• 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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KACEY MUSGRAVES WEDS RUSTON KELLY!

Kacey Musgraves is now a Mrs., as she tied the knot with Ruston Kelly in an intimate ceremony on Saturday (October 14th) in Tennessee. She alluded to the wedding in a Twitter post early Saturday morning: “Today,” along with heart and bride emojis.

 


Her new husband revealed the news, as well, with a pair of Instagram posts, one of which said, “I’m like, getting married today.”

The night before the wedding, Ruston gave a sweet tribute to his bride-to-be: “Last night as a bachelor. Finally ready to throw in that towel cuz I actually found the real thing. Couldn’t be more proud to have all our family and friends here to honor this new badass union.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaN26NrAL1l/?taken-by=rustonkelly

Oh hey Sawyer are you so pumped for this wedding

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The pair were engaged on Christmas Eve at her childhood home in Texas.

NEWS AND NOTES: Keith, Jon, LBT, Eric, Kacey, Kip

Keith Urban will be honored with BMI’s (Broadcast Music Incorporated) Champion Award during the 65th Annual BMI Country Awards November 7th in Nashville. Keith is being honored by the performing rights organization for his assistance in helping the next generation of songwriters and musicians, as well as furthering music education.

Jon Pardi, who’s headlining his own Lucky Tonight Tour, has already planned dates for next year by heading out on Miranda Lambert’s Livin’ Like Hippies Tour beginning January 18th in Greenville, South Carolina.

Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” has caught the ear and the voice of Harry Styles, who recorded the song for the UK version of Spotify Singles. He later performed the tune during his show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

Eric Church is set to perform at the Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Association’s 2018 Hall of Fame induction ceremony February 24th. Maren Morris, Radney Foster, Jack Ingram, Joe Ely, Lori McKenna and Hayes Carll will also perform in honor of this year’s inductees – Buddy Holly, Liz Rose, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Mickey Newberry.

Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves and Kip Moore are among the performers announced for next year’s C2C: Country to Country Festival. Faith Hill & Tim McGraw, Luke Combs, Emmylou Harris, Margo Price, Midland, Lukas Nelson, Ashley McBryde, Lindsay Ell and Jillian Jacqueline will also perform during the three-day festival running March 9th – 11th in London.

COUNTRY STARS REACT TO THE HORRIFIC TRAGEDY IN LAS VEGAS.

Words are still hard to come by, emotions and unfamiliar feelings are flooding our hearts and souls and trying to process the horrific tragedy at the Rt. 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night (October 1st) is still something that we can’t quite do and which will affect us the rest of our lives. The Country Music family, community, fans and friends around the world have been shaken to the core by the devastating carnage from Sunday night.

It has taken days for me to post the following:

 

Eric Church performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Wednesday night (October 4th) and spoke eloquently and passionately about Sunday’s shooting in Las Vegas. He was one of the headliners at the Route 91 Harvest Festival and painted the picture of the fans who attended the festival. He dedicated “Why Not Me,” a song he wrote this week, to Sonny Melton, the Paris, Tennessee man who died protecting his wife from the bullets that were being sprayed into the crowd of festivalgoers. Check out the videos below.

 

While he performed “Here On Earth” the other morning for a national radio show, he’s also healing folks by talking to them and really listening to them, as well as giving much needed blood to the American Red Cross.

Heartbroken for all the victims and families involved in #LasVegas. Still in disbelief. I love you all

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#prayforlasvegas

A post shared by Luke Bryan Official (@lukebryan) on

There are no words. Praying for all the victims and their families affected by the tragedy in Vegas.

A post shared by Easton Corbin (@eastoncorbin) on

Our hearts are so heavy this morning… sick to our stomachs.

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https://www.instagram.com/p/BZw4F-PA725/?taken-by=canaansmith

Psalm 91/Route 91

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Lord be near (Route 91) Psalm 91

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https://www.instagram.com/p/BZroEAlFpFr/?taken-by=karenfairchild

…And the greatest of these is LOVE. ❤️ 1 Corinthians 13 #prayersforvegas

A post shared by Kimberly Schlapman (@ohgussie) on

On the worst day ever. It got even worse. #nowords #prayforvegas #musicisawesome #tompettyandtheheartbreakers

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At a loss for words over what happened in Vegas last night…My prayers are with everyone involved.

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Audio / Before performing “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” at Monday night’s Candlelight Vigil at Nashville’s Ascend Theater, Keith Urban offered hope and prayers from his family to everyone who was affected by Sunday night’s horrific tragedy in Las Vegas.

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Keith Urban (Candlelight Vigil) OC: …in the world. 1:23
“I I want to firstly offer the prayers and love of my whole family to everybody affected by last night’s horrific tragedy. I started this morning by finding out about it, and being shell-shocked all morning getting my kids ready for school. And our nine-year-old, as I was driving her to school this morning, said to, ‘Dad, you seem quiet.’ I said, ‘Yeah, it was a lot of people killed last night.’ She said, ‘Did you know any of them?’ I said, ‘Not that I know of.’ Then she said, ‘Well, why are you so sad?’ I said, ‘Well, first of all, these were innocent people horrifically taken. Secondly, they’re like family.’ It’s the one thing about country music that’s always been at the center of it. It is community. It’s about community. So, I did know those people in that way, and it just really hit me. I feel very grateful for this moment tonight to be able to put some light in the world.”

 

Audio / Before performing "Go Rest High On That Mountain" at Monday night's Candlelight Vigil in Nashville, Vince Gill gave his thoughts to the horrific events of Sunday night.

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Vince Gill (Candlelight Vigil) OC: …innocent people. :17
Thank you for the opportunity to come and lift up 58 families who lost somebody last night. An honor to be here as a voice for the innocent. May we never lose our voice for innocent people.”

 

Audio / Vince Gill's wife, Amy Grant, led a prayer at Monday night's Candlelight Vigil in Nashville to honor those who lost and risked their lives Sunday night in Las Vegas.

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Amy Grant (Candlight Vigil) OC: …each other. Amen. 2:21
Father in Heaven, thank you for the gift of each other. Thank you that none of us is born alone or dies alone. But you go before us and beneath us and beside us and within us. Thank you for loving arms that were there to catch every fallen child, man and woman. Thank you for your presence that never leaves us. Thank you for word said over and over again, ‘Fear not.’ ‘Fear not.’ Father, in silence, we lift up, we just imagine all of the people rebuilding their lives. Broken. Grieving. And as a group, I don’t even know how to imagine lifting them all up, but I’m just picturing us almost like slinging them on our backs, lifting them up in our arms to the light of your love. We lift them up now, God, in silence. We lift up grieving spouses, God. We lift up moms and dads grieving the loss of a child, a son and a daughter. We lift up the doctors and nursing attending to the hundreds of people recovering. Give us the grace, God, every day, to see each other. To see each other. To see our differences. To see our similarities. To observe. To learn rather than judge. Fill our hearts with courage to not be afraid. To love, love, love. Thank you that you began this story that we’re all a part of, and you will finish it. And it began in love, and it will end in love. Thank you for the gift of each other. Amen.”

Video / Eric Church performs "Why Not Me" on the Grand Ole Opry.

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Video / Eric Church honors the victims and heroes and fans at Sunday night's horrific tragedy in Las Vegas.

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