Author Archives: Abby Shamis

About Abby Shamis

Abby Shamis is a student at the University of Texas at Austin. Currently a Junior, she is pursuing her degree in Kinesiology - Exercise Science in hopes of becoming a licensed physical therapist. Abby is a Chicago, Illinois native and grew up as a competitive figure skater. Now a days, Abby enjoys listening to all kinds of music and watching some college basketball and professional hockey (specifically the Chicago Blackhawks).

A Rising Star in Multiple Genres: Sam Hunt

Country music has recently seen the rising of a new star whose history differs from most other artists. This artist did not grow up thinking that they would top the country music charts, but instead aspired to play college football (which he accomplished, by the way). This artist is Sam Hunt, and he is taking country music by storm.

Hunt’s first album came out in October of last year, but the singles from that album are still topping the charts. Hunt’s song “Take Your Time” is currently number one on the US Country charts.

Although he defines himself as a country artist, listeners of country music are criticizing Hunt for not being country enough. His sound has some rap and hip-hop influences with the way that he talks throughout parts of the song, but he is fusing those elements with country music, expanding his, as well as country music’s, ever-growing fan base.  His “look” does not necessarily fit in with the country music mold, either. Instead of the cowboy hat and boots, Hunt usually dons a baseball cap and t-shirts, aligning him even more so with the hip-hop genre. To learn more about the blending of country music and hip-hop, visit the Country Music Project’s Hick Hop page.

Hunt appearance looking more like a Hip Hop artist's.

Hunt appearance looking more like a Hip Hop artist’s.

However, many times change is a good thing. The blending of the genres here is great for country music because it transitions listeners to explore the genre.  With the added exposure of country music, the genre will by all accounts grow in popularity.  While I think Hunt is pushing those boundaries a bit too far for the traditional genre’s taste, his doing so will be positive for country music as a whole. Being a steady stream of artistry while maintaining a balance of traditional and modern sounds is important when taking on the country music scene. Sam Hunt may be a bit blunt in his attempts to mash up the genres to create great music, but he is in fact creating great music.

Hunt is not new on the scene to making hit songs, though. He helped write hits for country music icons like Kenny Chesney with his song “Come Over,” and Keith Urban with “Cop Car.” He also assisted in writing Billy Currington’s “We Are Tonight.” With Hunt’s vast talent in songwriting, his ability to connect with audiences, and of course his voice, it is no surprise he is an all-star on the charts.

sam-hunt-2014-promo-650x400Sam Hunt has made a name for himself in the country music world. Whether he will continue to follow along that fine line between country and hip-hop, or veer in one direction or the other will be interesting to see. I would like to see him experiment in all directions, in the hopes of finding a comfortable place for him to create music, no matter what genre that may be under. I’m looking forward to seeing what else he has stashed in his pockets and ball cap, but am also thrilled at the way he made waves in the country music scene.  Everything needs to be shaken up from time to time, and Sam Hunt did that by showing his talent, all the while bringing people together to listen to good music.


Filed under Country Subgenres, Hick Hop, Reflection

Abby’s Experience in Country Music

This semester, as a part of the Country Music Project, I had the chance to engage in the country music community in a whole new light. I learned all about Willie Nelson, became abolsutely hooked on the show “Nashville,” watched the ACM’s, and read the Texas Music Magazine.  Through these activities, I was able to connect with country music more than I ever thought I could, and learned a new appreciation for the music genre’s history and very promising future.


This semester, as a part of the Country Music Project, I had the chance to engage in the country music community in a whole new light. I learned all about Willie Nelson, became abolsutely hooked on the show “Nashville,” watched the ACM’s, and read the Texas Music Magazine.

This spring, I really immersed myself in country music.  It has been something I have always dabbled in, but never fully immersed myself in before.  Taking this class was a huge step for me to begin with.  I did not know much about country music and its rich history, but I quickly found out how much I would come to learn and then fall in love with it.  I started out hesitant, by bringing my parents to visit Willie in statue form in downtown Austin.  He piqued my curiosity about Nashville, which made me look at the hit show in a whole new way.  I could relate to how business-y the city is, and how different that is from Austin.  I realized the creativity and freedom that Austin holds and how in Nashville the musical freedom does not always come so easily.  I saw the way country music stars such as Tim McGraw were portrayed at the Oscars versus how country music stars were at the American Country Music Awards.  And lastly, I read the Texas Music Magazine which provided me with a new group, Whisky Myers, that I happen to really like.


While doing all of these things, I became proud of myself for diving in to something that I haven’t always been the comfortable and familiar with.  My pride quickly turned to hunger as I strove understand why country music is the way it is today.  The broad category of country music and all of the subgenres that fit within this title can be confusing sometimes, but by taking the knowledge I had learned and applying it to real experiences made the knowledge more tangible.  The subgenres project taught me the most about country music, and because of that I feel like I understand the genre so much better.  Because I was able to apply my knowledge, I could understand the differences and similarities between Austin and Nashville.  I could see how Nashville turned Willie to come to Austin.  I could appreciate the way the artists were celebrated and revered for their creativity at the awards show.  And I could open myself up to a new band, and be surprised at how much I like one of their songs, which quickly turned into exploring more of their music.  When I look at my Storify, I see my semester in country music. But what stands out the most is how artist-oriented my semester has been.  I came in knowing a couple of Dixie Chicks songs and a little bit of Kenny Chesney (thanks to my parents’ tastes), but am leaving the semester with a wealth of new artists to listen to.


Filed under Austin, Class work, Reflection, Storify

Luke Bryan is Checkin’ Out of Spring Break

As a college student who just got back from the sandy beaches of spring break, I was stunned when I heard the news that Luke Bryan is calling an end to his domination as the spring-break-southern-state-country-music-concert-phenomena. After seven years on the spring break concert scene, Luke Bryan says it is time for him to let it go of his infamous spring break series, now that he is nearing forty years old (I don’t care what he thinks, I would see him in any concert any day no matter how old he is).

timthumb.phpI was shocked by this news because of the hype I realized he received while on my freshman year spring break trip, just two short years ago. Some friends and I had road tripped all the way down to Gulf Shores, Alabama and the entire car ride my friends played Luke Bryan’s 2013 Spring Break album Here to Party. To this day, I hear one of those songs and I can’t help but smile at the memories of lying on the beach and touching my toes in the Gulf of Mexico for the very first time. While I never got the chance to see any of his spring break concerts live, the song “Just a Sip” from that 2013 album will always bring me back to that very sunny trip to Alabama.

Luke Bryan’s reign as a country music spring break all-star started in 2009 with his album With all my Friends. From there he went on to have six more albums, and with each album came concerts in places like Gulf Shores, Alabama andluke-bryan-spring-break-ep-cover Panama City, Florida. The next six album tours were Spring Break: Hangover Edition, It’s a Shore Thing, Suntan City, Here to Party, Like We Ain’t Ever, and Checkin’ Out. His songs have been an anthem for students travelling down the beaches of America while they escape from the reality of school, homework, tests, and real life for just one week. And now, although his reign his over, those anthems will be sure to live on.

While it is always sad to think of the end of an era, it may just be a positive transition for Luke Bryan in to a new artistic light. He’s criticized with being “too bro country” for country music, but this could be a turning point in his career. He is gifted with a good voice, a pretty face, and the ability to make people want to sing along to his catchy songs. I would love to see some more out of him than just the party anthems he is most famously known for. Recently, he has dabbled in to some more somber themes that reflect on some of the hardships in his life, such as the song he sings about the loss of someone close to him “Drink a Beer.”

Luke-Bryan-CountryMusicIsLove-e1423094611227Although it is a bit bittersweet that Luke Bryan is ending his era as the Spring Break tyrant, I think that there are good things that lay ahead for him. I’m a Luke Bryan fan ‘til the end, and will remain loyal to him through whatever bro-country controversy that he may bring upon himself. But it is my hope that he now takes this newfound maturity at the age of almost 4 decades to reach out to more listeners with his music and show how talented he truly is.


Filed under Bro Country, Country Pop, Dancing, Live Music

A Quick Trip With Willie

Last week, my parents came to Austin to visit for the weekend. They were extremely excited to leave the bitter cold in Chicago and come down to one of their favorite cities (even though it would only be just a bit warmer than back home). They have been coming to visit once a semester for the past three years and each time they come and spend some time in Austin, they love it more and more. We have done all kinds of tourist-y things in Austin, but one thing we had not done was educate ourselves on some good ‘ole country music.

My mom and I visiting the Willie Nelson statue

My mom and I visiting the Willie Nelson statue

And so, this time when they visited I made sure to tell them, as well as show them, all about Willie Nelson. We all agreed that Willie Nelson had to have been a big deal in the music industry to deserve a statue in the middle of the downtown area of the state capital and the live music city of world.  We paid the statue a visit, and then became more curious about him as an artist as well as a person.

And so, we gave ourselves a little bit of a history lesson. My parents had no idea that Willie Nelson had moved from Nashville to Austin where he became a key figure in the “Outlaw Country” scene (I had already learned this fun fact, so hah!). He made his transition from the clean-shaven songwriter in Nashville, to the long-hair-don’t-care outlaw that started here in Austin, and is how he remains today.  The city of Austin played a huge role in his transformation, and in turn he had a large impact on the city of Austin.  Another interesting fact we learned was that Willie Nelson was raised by his grandparents, who had studied at a music school in Chicago. It gave us a little more of a connection to Willie, and that was exciting.

After our history lesson was over, we proceeded to listen to some of Willie’s songs. One song that we happened to like was “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”  It was a song I had never heard before but quickly took a liking to for it’s mellow tone and somber message of love and sadness.

My mother and father always knew that Austin had a huge live music scene, but I do not think they realized just how large of a scene it is and how far back that went. Thanks to our quick trip with Willie, my parents and I got to see a whole new side of Austin and the variety of things it has to offer.

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Nashville: New Episodes Starting Feb. 4

nashville-tv-show-1-480x240As an urban city dweller from northern Chicago who has quite literally “Gone to Texas,” my take on the hit TV series Nashville is most likely different than most. I am coming up on the end of my third year here at the University of Texas at Austin, but what brought me to the fine state of Texas is different than most: the weather. Two and half years ago I took my first step in Austin, Texas, ready to leave the cold weather behind and embrace the southern charm of a southern state. One thing I did not expect to like so much however, is country music.

While my country music education is not as extensive as some, I have found ways to immerse myself in the music outside of only listening to the country music radio station (which is how my taste for it all really started). One way I have done that is by watching the show Nashville. It began as something that linked my mother and I together, while being so far apart. It was something we could do together, without having to physically be together to watch it. But then, I was addicted.

I love the lifestyle in Nashville. I was fascinated by the simple lifestyle, even for the rich and famous. I love the Bluebird and have made it a point to add visiting the musical landmark on my bucket list. I was enthralled by the concept “old money” and the power that it gave its owners. But most of all, I loved the music.

My favorite music is that of the character Deacon Claybourne, more specifically though is the song “A Life That’s Good.”

The song is simple and sweet and while there is a sad undertone, it is still uplifting. This happens to be a recurring theme within the show. Things do not always go as planned, but family, and those that you love, are there through it all. I would say that most fans of the show are held captive by the drama of the show, most of which includes complicated love triangles and broken hearts. But if you can look beyond the glitter, the flashy lights, and the political hierarchy that runs the city of Nashville, what will capture your attention most is the music.

Artists flock to Nashville (in real life as well as the show), each looking for their “big break” and each contributing different necessities to the country music genre. Whether it is song writing, performing, or the few stars that can do it both, every contribution is important but also meaningful. It gives a look in to country music that is deeper than the surface, and in to what it really means. Every song is a story, a story that is told by a person or for a person. I cannot help but hear a country song now (or really any type of song for that matter) and wonder who the person was that wrote it. And what message are they trying to tell me? Thanks to the show Nashville, I have learned a lot about the genre, but also gained much more appreciation for the artists.

The highly anticipated premiere after the holiday TV vacation airs this upcoming Wednesday, February 4th.

Visit the show’s website.

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Filed under Movies and TV, Nashville Sound, Reflection, Reviews