• Kacey Musgraves

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Two decades ago — long before Same Trailer Different Park turned her into a Grammy-winning country star with sold-out tours and Top 10 hits — Kacey Musgraves participated in her first (and only) beauty pageant.

“My hometown is pretty famous for its sweet potatoes,” she says, “and every year, they hold the Golden Sweet Potato Festival. They crown a Sweet Potato Queen and a Little Miss Tater Tot for little girls. I only competed for Little Miss Tater Tot once, when I was about three, and lost miserably to a girl in a sparklier dress.”

The pageant world, with its fake smiles and sky-high hairdos, wasn’t the best match for Musgraves. She was more interested in songwriting, finishing her very first tune at 9 years old and learning her first instrument, the mandolin, as a pre-teen. Years later, though, the peculiarities of daily life in a small town — along with the places she’s visited (and people she’s met) since moving away— are back on her mind.

It’s been years since Musgraves lived in Golden, Texas, her childhood home of roughly 600 people, but the whirlwind that followed Same Trailer Different Park — a debut album that topped the country charts, took home two Grammy Awards (including Country Album of the Year) and sent Musgraves halfway across the world on tour — made her think hard about where she came from. Pageant Material, her second album, pays tribute to those Bible Belt roots, shining a light on a hometown girl who’s grown up, expanded her worldview and done a lot of livin’ since skipping town. It’s an album about where she’s from and where she’s going, full of autobiographical details that are humorous one minute and heartwarming the next.

“I really wanted this album to have a classic feel, like a lot of the records I know and love,” says Musgraves, who name-checks artists like Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell and Ronnie Milsap as influences on Pageant Material‘s easygoing stride. “I intended on it having a laid-back yet lush, slightly kitschy, western vibe. And most of all, I wanted it to feel like me.”

Appropriately, all thirteen of the album’s songs were co-written by Musgraves, who teamed up with the same group of songwriters who’d helped bring Same Trailer Different Park to life several years earlier. Those names may be familiar — Brandy Clark, Luke Laird, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, along with additions like Natalie Hemby and Ashley Arrison — but the songs are new, dreamt up during a songwriter’s retreat in West Texas as well a handful of sessions back home in Nashville.

During the gorgeous “Late to the Party,” Musgraves lingers with her boyfriend before a big get-together, knowing that he, not the party, is the real destination. She kicks back and enjoys life at a slower speed with “High Time,” whose twangy chorus — punctuated by a whistled riff worthy of a high-lonesome cowboy — doubles as a nod to the childhood years Musgraves spent performing western swing music. On “Dimestore Cowgirl,” she breezes through some of the more surreal highlights of her days on the road, from an early-morning European boat ride that took her band past the White Cliffs of Dover to a night spent in the same middle-of-nowhere motel where Gram Parsons spent his final hours.  “I’m still the girl from Golden,” she admits during the song’s chorus, a reminder that no matter how big her career gets, she’ll always be a small-town native. Later, with “This Town,” she stresses the importance of staying pleasant in a cozy town where everyone knows you, and during “Biscuits” — a song inspired by her mother’s advice to “kill ‘em with kindness” — she explains some simple, yet important, things she’s learned her 26 years.

Musgraves recorded Pageant Material in a unique way, capturing the songs during a series of live studio sessions. The goal was to harness the energy of her concerts, rather than build a record track-by-track and overdub-by-overdub. To lighten the mood, she decorated Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A with fluorescent, life-size cacti and served fresh biscuits during breaks. She also brought a handful of plastic beauty pageant crowns into the studio and handed them out to her band, which included members of her touring lineup as well as pedal steel player Paul Franklin, drummer Fred Eltringham, and other top-tier players from the Nashville community. Musgraves pulled triple duty during the recording sessions, serving as singer, songwriter and co-producer on every track.

Since Pageant Material is such a personal project, it’s only appropriate that several family members contributed to the album’s creation. “This Town” begins with the voice of Musgraves’ beloved Memaw — grandmother Barbara Taylor — who worked as an ER nurse in Texas until her passing in December 2013.

“We always loved to get her going, telling stories about the crazy stuff she’d seen lately at work,” Musgraves remembers. “One night a couple years ago, we were all sittin’ around her in the living room and made her tell stories. I secretly pressed record on my phone. I just thought for some reason I should, never thinking I’d end up using it. This particular part of the record has been a source of sadness and happiness at the same time. I really miss her, but it makes me smile knowing that her voice has literally become embedded in my musical legacy.”

Likewise, Musgraves’ little sister, Kelly Christine Sutton, shot the photographs for the album, including the throwback cover art. On a record that deals so heavily with Musgraves’ roots — where she came from, how she grew up, and what her small hometown looks like from afar — the presence of her relatives adds an authentic touch.

Pageant Material lives in a western-tinged world, and the songs are like little stories,” Musgraves says. “They set a vibe and a tone, and all make sense living in the same space. I think I’ll always be affected by growing up in a small town, so it still inspires a lot of my writing. But there are some viewpoints on this record that I hadn’t written from yet. More than anything, it’s life and society, making mistakes and my relationships that continue to inspire me.”

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NEWS AND NOTES: Shania, Kacey, Chris, Lady A, LBT, Luke, Kip, George, Vince and more

Shania Twain is scheduled to perform on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon August 16th. Her new album, NOW, will be released September 29th.

Kacey Musgraves will appear on the season finale of CMT’s Nashville, which airs Thursday (August 10th) at 9pm ET.

 

Hillary Scott has been nominated for Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year for “Thy Will” for this year’s Dove Awards. Hillary and her family, the Scott Family, recorded and released “Thy Will” from their Love Remains album. The 48th Annual GMA Dove Awards will take place at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville October 17th at 7:30pm ET. The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) will exclusively air the awards show on Sunday, October 22nd.

 

Chris Stapleton and Lady Antebellum have been added to the lineup for the all-star concert, All in For the Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration. The event, which will be taped at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena October 25th, will also feature guest appearances by Little Big Town, Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson and Elle King, among others.

Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Kip Moore are among the artists performing at the Gulf Coast Jam in Panama City, Florida September 1st – 3rd. Jason Aldean, Brett Eldredge, Dan + Shay and Granger Smith will also perform.

George Strait, Little Big Town, Vince Gill, Hillary Scott and Toby Keith are among the first-round performers at this year’s ACM Honors, taking place at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium August 23rd. The concert event, which will also feature performances by Brad Paisley, Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas Rhett and Maren Morris, will air September 15th at 9pm ET/PT on CBS.

As previously announced, Special Award recipients celebrated at the 11th Annual ACM Honors will include Kelsea Ballerini (Gene Weed Milestone Award), Toby Keith (Poet’s Award), Bob Kingsley (Mae Boren Axton Service Award), Reba McEntire (Mae Boren Axton Service Award), “Nashville” (Tex Ritter Film Award), Dolly Parton (Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award), Shel Silverstein (Poet’s Award, awarded posthumously), and George Strait (Cliffie Stone Icon Award)The evening will also honor winners of the Industry and Studio Recording Awards, along with Songwriter of the Year Award winner, Lori McKenna. The Academy of Country Music will present trophies to previously announced Special Award recipients Eric Church (Merle Haggard Spirit Award) and Willie Nelson (Poet’s Award) at a later date.

COUNTRY STARS REACT TO THE PASSING OF GLEN CAMPBELL.

Glen Campbell passed away Tuesday afternoon (August 8th) after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The iconic singer, known for such classic songs as “Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Southern Nights” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” was 81. The Country Music Hall of Famer was an inspiration and musical hero to many of today’s country stars.

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Urban, who cites Glen as one of his musical idols, posted a heartfelt message about the legendary performer.
“What a powerful artistic and personal journey Glen Campbell’s passage has been. As a role model, singing guitar player he was a big influence on me.

His blend of genres created his own sound and style and his ability to entertain wasn’t limited to the stage. He blazed real trails through film (and especially television) where his charismatic southern charm and personality fit perfectly.

The night I won my first country music award, I got back to my hotel room and there was a fax on the floor.

“Welcome to the award winning world kid. You got it.” Glen Campbell.

Universal music, universal stories, universal spirit. No wonder he was a global superstar. I love Glen for so many reasons – but above all, for his humanity. My thoughts and prayers are with Kim and all of his extended family today. May peace be with you all. Go rest high on that mountain, Glen.” – KU

 

Keith performed at last year’s 10TH ANNUAL ACM HONORS™ for a special tribute to Glen Campbell, who was honored with the ACM Career Achievement Award. Dierks Bentley also performed during the tribute, who said “He just has a way of performing that I’ve always felt like he’s one of those guys that if all of the power went out and there was no PA system and no band behind you and it just had to be just you and a guitar, he could entertain that crowd just as well as if they had all of the lights and production, and it’s Glen. He’s such a great singer, great musician and so funny, and such a great storyteller. He really carved out his niche. There’s no one that’ll ever sound like him – a classic legend.”

Audio / A couple of years ago, Keith Urban said Glen Campbell was one of his biggest influences.

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Keith Urban (Glen Campbell) OC: …guitar player. :22
“I’ve always been a fan of what I like to call Guitartists, you know those guitar artists like Glen Campbell who’s probably one of my biggest influences. Those guys who knew a good song, had a great voice and played great and you know, just the all-around guys with the guitar you know? ‘Cause when you think of Glen Campbell you think off, I think of ‘Galveston’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’ then I also think of him being a phenomenal guitar player.”

 

 

 

Video / Keith Urban and Glen Campbell performing "Wichita Lineman" in Las Vegas during a stop on Keith's 2009 tour.

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NEWS AND NOTES: Keith, Luke, Eric, Sam, Lady A, Dierks, Darius, LBT, Chris, Kacey

Catch several of this year’s hottest performances from CMA Music Festival during ABC’s CMA Fest television special. Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Sam Hunt and Lady Antebellum will take the stage, along with collaborations between Dierks Bentley and Cole Swindell and Darius Rucker with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, among others. The music event will air August 16th at 8pm ET on ABC.

Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Volume 1 is the No. 1 country album in the nation this week. His Traveller album lands at No. 2, followed by Keith Urban’s Ripcord at No. 3.

Chris Stapleton‘s From a Room: Volume 1 has been certified gold by the R.I.A.A for more than 500,000 copies sold.

Kacey Musgraves (along with her fiancé Ruston Kelly) are among the singer-songwriters who are adding their vocals and music to poems Johnny Cash had written throughout the years that are being turned into a tribute album to the Man in Black. The collection, which will be called Johnny Cash Forever Words: The Music, will also feature contributions from Brad Paisley, Jewel, Jamey Johnson, T-Bone Burnett and the late Chris Cornell. Kacey and Ruston recently debuted their duet, “To June, This Morning,” at Blackberry Farm in East Tennessee. Johnny wrote the poem for his wife, June Carter Cash, more than 45 years ago.

Sam Hunt garners more nominations at this year’s Teen Choice Awards, which just announced its second wave of nominees. He grabbed two more nods, including Choice Country Song for “Body Like a Back Road,” as well as Choice Summer Tour for his 15 in a 30 Tour. Sam was previously nominated for Choice Country Artist and the all-genre Choice Song for his huge smash hit, “Body Like a Back Road.” Voting is now open at TeenChoice.com or fans can tweet the category hashtag with the nominee’s name through July 19th. The Teen Choice Awards will air live August 13th at 8pm ET on FOX.

Keith Urban’s lovely wife, Nicole Kidman, has earned an Emmy nomination for her role as “Celeste Wright“ in HBO’s Big Little Lies, alongside her friend Reese Witherspoon. The show was also nominated in the Outstanding Limited Series category and ended up with 16 nominations. The Emmys will air live September 17th at 8pm ET on CBS.

 

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