Author Archives: Elissa Killebrew

Best Female Country Songs of the 90s

When you think about 90s country, the success of the female country scene comes to mind. This was the age that brought a more contemporary sound to country music. This was the period when huge stars like Faith Hill and Shania Twain made their career debuts. Women were leading the charts with their girl-power hits. Women became serious contenders in country music, and these hits could give bro-country songs a run for their money. There are so many great hits from men and women during this era that changed country music, but here is a look at my opinion of the top 5 female country songs of the 90s.


5. Trisha Yearwood “She’s In Love With The Boy”

Writers: Jon Ims

Album: Trisha Yearwood (1991)

This forbidden love song told a story of a young small-town couple trying to gain approval from the father. It spoke to girls everywhere who were experiencing young love in the rebellious teen years.  It was Yearwood’s lead single from her debut album, made it to No. 1 on the singles charts, and launched Yearwood’s wildly successful career.


4. Faith Hill “This Kiss”

Writers: Beth Nielsen Chapman, Robin Lerner, Annie Roboff

Album: Faith (1998)

This song was every girl’s anthem with the up-beat music and catchy lyrics like “centrifugal motion” and “perpetual bliss.” It brings to life the feeling of a first kiss with your crush. This song was one of Hill’s early crossover hits, which launched her into the pop direction. You can still hear this one on the radio, as it remains relevant in contemporary country.


3. LeAnn Rimes “How Do I Live”

Writers: Diane Warren

Album: You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs (1997)

This song launched Rimes’ career as it stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 69 weeks. Rimes was only 14 years old when the song reached success. Although Yearwood also recorded this song at the same time, Rimes still earned a Grammy nomination, and it remains one of the biggest standout songs of the 90s.


2. Martina McBride “Independence Day”

Writers: Gretchen Peters

Album: The Way That I Am (1994)

This song may have never made it to No. 1, but it was one of the greatest and most controversial country songs in music history. The song received mixed responses due to the depiction of domestic abuse, which was visualized in the music video. However, McBride won two CMA Awards and a Grammy for Best Country Song. In 2014, Rolling Stone ranked the song in their list of 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.


1. Shania Twain “You’re Still The One”

Writers: Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Shania Twain

Album: Come On Over (1998)

Shania Twain was one of the best country singers of the late 90s. “You’re Still The One” was Twain’s first Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit and remains one of her most successful singles. This song, written by Twain and her then-husband, won two Grammys and beat out Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Now that’s a pretty remarkable achievement. Twain went on to be one of the most influential female country singers of the 90s.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, Lists, Reflection, Women

Country Music Forever

It’s really interesting how country music has had such a big impact on my life growing up, especially since I’ve lived in the south my entire life. It wasn’t until I moved to Texas when I was 11 years old that I actually fell in love with the genre. Country music has a deep history in Texas and popularized some of the best country artists to this day (and my favorite, George Strait). From the places I’ve been to the shows I currently watch, the country music lifestyle is continuing to influence my life in pretty subtle ways. I love this class because it has really made me appreciate my loyalty to this genre.



I went to Threadgill’s a few weeks ago with my friend not knowing much about it other than the fact that it was another Austin hot spot. You walk into the restaurant and there are pictures all over the walls of some of greatest artists throughout the history of country music. Country music lover Kenneth Threadgill opened the restaurant in 1933. Fun Fact: he was the first person to own a beer license in the county. Janis Joplin even made a few appearances in the restaurant. If you want to experience live country music while eating good ole’ southern cooking, Threadgill’s is the best place to go.

Nashville (TV Show)


I started watching this television show as soon as it aired on ABC in 2012. The show stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere and focuses on their character’s clashing careers. Country superstar Rayna James (Britton) struggles to uphold her career with the contemporary direction country music is heading. Her stardom starts fading when Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) becomes the hot new star, appealing to the younger audience. There’s a lot of speculation if the show is based off real life situations that have happened in country music. Maybe Rayna represents Faith Hill’s diminishing career as rising country star Carrie Underwood, played out as Juliette Barnes, comes into the scene. Because Hill and Underwood had rumors swirling several years ago about tension between the two, maybe the creators based their lead characters off their public debacle. Regardless, I am a huge fan of this show and all the drama that is played out on the screen. It really shows the struggle of making it big in the industry, and it even features the renowned Blue Bird Café where several big-time artists were discovered.

2015 CMA Awards

chris and luke

I have been tuning into the CMA Awards for as long as I have been a country music fan. All of my favorite artists coming together to show-off their best work is my favorite awards show of the year. The show has been hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood since 2008, and as their careers are better than ever, I don’t see them slowing down. The Entertainer of the Year award of course went to Luke Bryan, the hottest singer in country music today. Female Vocalist of the Year went to Miranda Lambert while Vocal Duo of the Year went to Florida Georgia Line. It seems that country music is starting to accept a pop sound and these successful singers are focused on creating crossover hits. Probably the biggest shock of the night happened when Chris Stapleton won Male Vocalist of the Year. His debut album was released in May, and he walked away with three awards that night. This is an artist I think all country fans can get excited about. He’s bringing back the traditional country sound with his hits like “Tennessee Whiskey” (which he performed with Justin Timberlake on the show) and “Traveller.” With all the mainstream country music, I’m glad to see that people will still appreciate the classic sound that popularized the genre through the 80s and 90s. Chris Stapleton won some incredible awards that night for someone who has only been on the radio for a few months. Who knows, maybe Chris Stapleton will be the next George Strait.

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Filed under Austin Food, Awards, Blog Post 5, Country Pop, Movies and TV

My Summer at KOKE FM

KokeFMThis past summer, I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the radio station KOKE FM. For those of you who have never heard of the station, its a country alternative station – meaning they play every type of country from classic to outlaw to current. Not only did I learn a lot of rewarding career experience from the internship, but I also learned so much more about country music in general. For example, I had never heard of Chris Stapleton, knew the significance of Merle Haggard, or knew people still appreciated Willie Nelson’s music before this summer.

I interned for the 6am morning show, meaning I had to get up at 4am to make it to work by 5am every weekday morning – yes I went to work when most people were coming home from the bars. My boss was the man who owned the station and on-air talent Bob Cole. Bob was actually inducted in the Country Music On-Air Personality Hall of Fame in 2003, so my boss was pretty awesome. I actually really came to enjoy the early mornings because my job was fairly simple and everyday was something different. One day the guys bought 10 different vanilla ice cream brands to see which ones could [temporarily] replace Blue Bell. Random country singers would come on the show. Some days the guys even let us interns talk on-air.

IMG_1014There was one day in particular that I will probably remember most about working at the station. One day I was logging the show like I always do, and a short, older man with the whitest hair and tattoos covering his arms walked through the door. It took a long stare and at least 30 seconds of processing to realize that THE Dale Watson had just walked 3 feet away from me and flashed his Dale Watson smile while saying “good morning” in his deep Alabama accent. He just walked himself into the studio with Bob like he had been there a thousand times before. And there I was fangirling so hard when my other boss, Eric Raines, told me that Bob wanted to see me. As I pulled myself together, I walked into the studio and Bob introduced me to THE Dale Watson. And THE Dale Watson shook MY hand as he repeated my name, and I swear my heart stopped for a solid 5 seconds. Bob wanted me to go get Dale some coffee, and I happily did so while nervously overthinking how much cream and sugar THE Dale Watson wants in his coffee. As I gave the coffee to Mr. Watson, he thanked me and said my name AGAIN. So that is the day I met THE Dale Watson and fell in love with my job even more. I’m a dork.

IMG_0910All the guys I worked with knew so much and currently have standing relationships with so many different country artists. Honestly, working there makes me appreciate everything I’m learning in this class so much more because if I want to end up doing my own country radio show, learning the true history and meaning behind the genre is the best way to be successful at it. I can’t say enough how lucky I was to score that internship and be able to learn so much more about country music as well as producing a radio show. If you’re interested in radio and country music, I highly recommend interning at KOKE FM. But if you just like listening to country music, turn the radio to 98.5 every now and then to hear some of the best country music ever made deejayed by some of the coolest guys I’ve ever worked with.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Classic Country, Live Music, New Country, Outlaw, Reflection

Haters Gon’ Hate (Country Music)

Why do people hate country music? I think that is the one thing I absolutely don’t understand in life, especially down here in the South. Country music fits all emotions, covers all issues, and relates to all types of people. But why do so many people drink the country music haterade?

country hateradeI guess my teen years really helped expand my love for the genre. Teen angst was real, but I always felt better when a country song would come on the radio that I could deeply relate to on an emotional level. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and that’s pretty much the recurring theme when you’re 13 and wanting to fit in.

Country music is stronger than ever these days with cross-over artists like Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, and Florida Georgia Line. These songs are obviously more pop-sounding to reach the mainstream audiences. But as a true country music fan, I’d rather listen to the 80s and 90s era of country than almost anything I hear on the radio today.

When you’re at a party and the night is coming to a close, and some brave soul turns on “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks, what person would refuse to shout obnoxiously to the beginning lines “Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots”? It is a complete game changer when you go from dirty rap to good ole’ classic country. The night may be dwindling down but my heart is happy when the two-stepping breaks out. Even if you had the worst night, you can’t hate on the person that is twirling you across the floor to some good lookin’ George Strait.

Country music is the best way to live. There are so many country songs about different issues and events that have happened throughout history. “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” by Alan Jackson relates to the horrific tragedy of 9/11. There are so many country songs about American pride like “Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn and “American Soldier” by Toby Keith. Country is sensitive and rarely offensive unlike many songs we hear on the radio today.

Any person can find some country song they can relate to. “Brokenheartsville” by Joe Nichols relates to the heartbroken. “Bye Bye” by Jo Dee Messina is a great moving-on anthem. “Wild One” by Faith Hill speaks to all the rebellious teen girls. “Red Ragtop” by Tim McGraw references a couple’s life after abortion. Almost any Jason Aldean song can give the guys a sense of nostalgia of younger years. Give me a situation; I’ll find a country song for it.

In my opinion, everyone should love country music because I don’t see any reason to hate it. Country music truly brings me back down to Earth. It calms me down, it hypes me up, it makes me cry, and Brad Paisley can make me laugh on any given day. Maybe I’m just okay with feeling emotions, but everyone feels them at one point or another; who wouldn’t want a country song there for comfort? I may never understand the country music haters, but I’ll defend the genre until I die.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Classic Country, Country Pop, Reflection, USA

We Are Home in Country Music

Home. Maybe it’s the place that built you, the place you run back to, or where your heart is. Wherever your home may be, in country music it can be a place that defines where you were, where you are, and where you’re going.

I grew up going from house to house every few years. For the longest time I considered my home to be the place I was born and lived for 8 years. Like Miranda Lambert’s song “The House That Built Me,” the house that built me was in a small town on a little street corner in the most peaceful neighborhood. It’s where I spent my time expanding my imagination and growing my innocence. It’s a house full of memories and pen stains of marked heights, similar to the handprints on the front steps that Lambert references in her song. Country acknowledges that, like a first love, you can’t forget your first home. But other songs dig a little deeper.

As I grew older, I don’t find myself yearning to go back to the house where I spent my childhood. “Home” took on a different meaning when I entered the college bubble. Now I relate this term to the way Blake Shelton describes it in his song “Home.” It’s a place I can always go back to whenever I’m lost and need to find myself again. “May be surrounded by a million people. I still feel all alone. I want to go home.” It’s the place my parents reside. It’s a place full of irrevocable love. Country’s description of home is the idea of safety and peace; a place that can’t be tarnished by outside forces. Country’s deeper meaning of home is really felt in this song. It describes home as more of a relationship than an object.

As I transition into adulthood, I know the meaning and feelings I have toward the term “home” will change again like it has before. “Home Is Where The Heart Is” by Lady Antebellum is the best way to describe an adult searching for her new home. Lady A describes packing up and leaving behind her small town to find her dreams elsewhere. I know someday in the near future I’ll be the one packing up once again and heading out of the great state of Texas to chase my dreams and find a home. At the end of this song, there is a realization that stresses the underlying meaning of establishing a home: love. Home is where the heart is and home is where the love is.

Whether it is your first home, where your parents are, or where you’re going to end up, you find your home through love. Country music interprets home differently through several songs, but it doesn’t escape this recurring theme in country music altogether. To me, country music in itself is home; it’s safe, peaceful, emotional. It’s my past, my present, and my future.

Elissa Killebrew

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Filed under Blog Post 1, Country Pop, Country Symbols, New Country, Reflection