Author Archives: Emma Morgan

About Emma Morgan

Emma Morgan is a sophomore at the University of Texas. She is a Corporate Communications major with a minor in Business. While growing up in Houston, she developed a love for country music at a young age. Some of her favorite artists include George Strait, Alan Jackson, Josh Abbott Band, and Tim McGraw. She hopes to get the opportunity to further her knowledge and love of country music while in Austin.

iHeartRadio Country Music Festival

iheartradio_country_festival_l_0_1427982137This weekend I was lucky enough to attend the 2nd annual iHeartRadio Country Music Festival here in Austin. To say it was an extraordinary showcase is an understatement. Hosted by Bobby Bones, Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, and Darius Rucker this festival was a special once in a lifetime event with a stellar all-star lineup. This year it included Justin Moore, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Tyler Farr, Sam Hunt, The Band Perry, Little Big Town, Brantley Gilbert, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, and the icing on the cake was Tim McGraw. It was only fitting that the newest and hottest artists in country music traveled to the “Live Music Capital of the World” for a concert of a lifetime.

The iHeartRadio Country Music Festival is one of the largest and grandest country music festivals in the country and Austin has been lucky enough to host it for the second year in a row. It is sister concert to the iHeartRadio Music Festival held in Las Vegas and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Concert Tour. John Sykes, President of iHeartMedia Entertainment Enterprises, shared with Rolling Stone that “Every single one of these artists can headline an arena or stadium on their own, but on this night they will share the stage to celebrate the amazing music on our iHeartRadio country stations”. Clearly, this was not an event to be missed.

What I did not realize was that the concert was actually being filmed to air on NBC May 27th. Given that, walking into the stadium I was not expecting to see huge cameras pointing in every direction or camera crew pacing the floor. This aspect actually made the event more special because I felt like I was a part of something big. Cameras were set all around the arena and throughout the show there were segments of staged cheering and applause conducted by Bobby Bones and Jennifer Nettles themselves. It was pretty cool to see what it was like behind the scenes and how a televised show comes together.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 7.04.17 PMBrad Paisley kick started the show with a bang. I had never seen him in concert before so he was someone I was looking forward to watching. He definitely made it a production and got the crowd going wild. The Band Perry surprised the crowd by singing a cover of party song “Uptown Funk”, making the whole audience jump to their feet and dance. The trio sounded like they could’ve been the original artists of the song, which was remarkable considering they were country artists singing a pop party song.

I have always like Brantley Gilbert, but I did not enjoy his performance as much as all of the others. Before he took the stage, there was a video shown of him and his band looking like they could’ve been a part of a gang. Glimpses of head to toe bling and tattoos were not the quintessential things I expected to see at a country concert. In my opinion, the video jut didn’t fit the “country” mood of the night. Regardless, he was fun to watch and had abundant energy. Little Big Town sang hits like “Day Drinking” and controversial song “Girl Crush” which the audience cheered and supported despite the recent backlash. Overall, they were entertaining with Karen Fairchild standing out with her astounding vocals.

Following them was the great Darius Rucker. His performance was one of my favorites. His audience interaction was spot on and you could just tell how much he was enjoying singing in that moment. Rascal Flatts was also one of my favorite performances, which I wasn’t expecting. Despite having lost popularity in recent years, I thought their performance was amazing. From singing new hits like “Rewind” to throwing it back and singing “What Hurts the Most” and “Life Is A Highway”, I had so much fun singing along with them.

IMG_0231Finally, the one and only Tim McGraw closed the show and was nothing less than flawless. He was definitely the most anticipated artist and that showed when Darius Rucker crowd surfed the audience to introduce him to the stage. After we all sang a loud and proud “Happy Birthday” to him (since it was his birthday), he sung hits “Shotgun Rider” and “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”. He also threw in the oldies, “Something Like That” and a grand finale of “Live Like You Were Dying”. Those two songs are some of my favorite Tim McGraw songs so I was over the moon when he played both. He was the perfect closer to an unbelievable concert and made every second worthwhile.

The iHeartRadio Country Music Festival will be back in Austin for a third time next year. This wonderful showcase of beloved artists and songs will not disappoint anyone who loves country music. Grab your tickets while you can because you definitely don’t want to miss it! I know I don’t!

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Filed under Austin, Live Music, Reflection

Emma’s Country Music Experiences

Over the past few months, Rhetoric of Country Music has pushed me out into the exciting world of country music. From attending concerts to watching television, it has seemed like I have been completely immersed in country all semester long. I was able to dig into the past at record stores while watching today’s country music unfold in TV and award shows. It is safe to say that now I know much more about country music than I ever thought I would. I’ve always enjoyed country and it has always been around me however, this project led me to new experiences pertaining to country. My experiences start with watching the TV series Nashville every week. It’s been my favorite television show since it aired and it continues to peak my interest the more I watch. In March, I attended the Eric Church Outsider’s Tour in Austin with some of my best friends, which was one of the highlights of my semester. On Sunday April 19th, I sat down on the couch and tuned into the ACM Awards, which I have actually never watched before. Finally, I was able to look back at some older country artists and albums looking around Waterloo Records. Through immersing myself into country music culture I more fully understand the ideals and influences of country music from present day to the past.


This spring, I have had many opportunities to engage myself in the country music community and I thoroughly enjoyed my time doing it. Through watching TV series Nashville, I really feel like I understand the ins and outs of Nashville as the country music capital of the world. It also gave insight into the music making, record producing, and performing aspects, which are definitely important parts of the genre. Watching the ACM Awards let me take a closer look into current country artist’s songs and albums, helping me understand what the world of country music is like today. I was able to delve into older yet timeless records and artists while searching for records at Waterloo in Austin. I found many albums including a Johnny Cash Greatest Hits album, a Glen Campbell album, a Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris compilation album, and a 1979 Willie Nelson and Leon Russell album. Although I didn’t purchase these records, as I would have no way of playing them, it was fun to browse around the store to see what I could find. Seeing Eric Church in concert had to be the highlight of all of my country music experiences this semester. Having never heard much about him, I didn’t know what to expect going into the show, but I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining and fun he was to watch.

Each of my experiences was so different, which was good because I got to see different aspects of country music and everything that encompasses it. From getting a look into current country and looking back at older country music, I feel like I had a well-rounded experience. The biggest thing I learned from these experiences is that country is a melting pot of an array of sounds, voices, themes, instruments, and subgenres. I had always seen country, as having the same general sound and main ideas, but this is not the case. Country is a much-varied genre and it took immersing myself into the culture to fully realize just how amazing country music is.


Filed under Austin, Class work, Reflection, Storify

Eric Church’s The Outsiders Tour

About a month ago, a few of my closest friends and I braved the chilly rainy Austin weather and headed to the Frank Erwin Center to attend the Eric Church Outsiders Tour. After hearing from Dusty that I could get tickets for ten dollars as a UT student, there was no way I was going to pass up this concert. Having seen many country music concerts in the past, I knew I was in for a treat.

Eric-Church-Outsiders-World-TourBefore the concert, I had occasionally heard the name Eric Church but barely knew much about him or his music. I was familiar with a few of his hit songs like “Springsteen” and “Talladega” that are constantly played on country radio, but never really thought of him as a top performing country artist. That being said, going into this concert, I had no idea what to expect from him or his songs.

Dawning our best “country” clothes, cowboy boots and all, my friends and I waited anxiously for Eric Church to start playing. We got there early enough to (unfortunately) catch the opening band, Drive-By Truckers. These guys were definitely an interesting choice for a country concert opener. They were a heavy rock band that seemed to yell more than sing, making it extremely difficult to understand what they were even saying. It’s safe to say that most everyone in the arena was relieved when they finished their set.

However, the wait was worth it when Eric Church finally walked casually onto the stage wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, plain t-shirt, and baseball cap. He immediately got the crowd pumped up by shouting things like “Hook ‘em Horns” and anything else related to the great city of Austin. I was amazed at how relaxed and normal he looked and sounded. He had such energy and charisma it was hard not to completely immerse yourself in the experience. I was completely taken off guard when he announced that he was going to be playing whatever he wanted to, with no set list. He pumped up the crowd by telling us that there was no set time limit to how long he would play and that “he would stay there all night”. He wanted everyone to simply enjoy themselves and the music he was about to play. This was so cool to me because it seemed like nothing was going to stop him from having fun and performing the way he wanted to. Nowadays, most huge concerts like his are carefully scripted and arranged a certain way, but Eric Church made it clear that this was not going to be a cookie cutter performance.

Florida Country Superfest  Inaugural Season Day 1The crowd’s excitement rose as he jammed to popular songs such as “Drink In My Hand”, “Smoke a Little Smoke”, “Give Me Back My Hometown”, and “Homeboy”, making each performance special and important. His audience interaction was more than I could’ve hoped for. From signing a woman’s rhinestoned boots that were thrown to him onstage to talking to the audience like we were his best friends, he took the time to make every single person there feel included in the experience. Stories about his little boy and home life moved the show along in between more top hits like “Springsteen”, “Creepin’” and “Cold One”. My friends and I stood up out of our seats the entire show, dancing and singing along even to the songs we didn’t know. During one song there was a huge inflatable monster looking thing that randomly popped up in the middle of the crowd. The whole show up to this point had gone on with little effects, making it a very raw and natural performance. To me, it was an unnecessary effect that took away from the simplicity of the concert, but nevertheless entertaining.

Eric-Church-on-ACL-350x350Eric Church’s concert was unlike any other performance of a male country artist. It wasn’t staged or scripted. There was no glitz or tons of special effects. He wasn’t trying to sell himself or his music. It was simple yet extremely engaging and memorable. This was the most natural performance from a rising star I have ever seen and for that I really admire him. He definitely took me by surprise throughout the show and forced me to completely change my view of him. Now I definitely see Eric Church for the talented singer he is and have since become a bigger fan of his than I think I ever thought I would be. By his last encore, I was so thrilled that my otherwise ordinary and boring Wednesday night had turned into a memorable concert experience shared with my good friends. To anyone who loves Eric Church or doesn’t know a thing about him, I would highly recommend seeing him in concert for an exhilarating and memorable experience.

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Filed under Austin, Bro Country, Live Music, Reflection, Reviews

Country Music in TV Series Nashville

Some diehard country music fans might be turned off by the thought of watching a television series centered on country music and the industry. Despite seeming silly to some, I believe this show is full of talented artists and performers and has the ability to turn non-country music listeners into country music lovers like the rest of us.

nashville-promoThe TV series Nashville has become one of my favorite shows to watch each week. I love the drama surrounding each of the dynamic characters, but mostly I love the numerous country songs debuted in each episode. My mom and I used to watch together every week before I started college, and while I have always been a country music fan, she hasn’t. However, this show has caused her to grow into a bigger fan than I think she ever could have been. Nashville has the ability to capture our attention and increase our awareness of country music.

Nashville has been extremely successful in producing songs that are loved by all who watch it. At first, the characters might seem phony and invalid when it comes to country music, but the actors chosen for each role have enormous musical talent. I’m always so blown away with the songs performed in the series, that I have download them right away.

nashville-girls-500x281Connie Britton, who plays leading lady Rayna James, is an incredible singer in addition to her acting skills. If I didn’t know any better, I would think she was an actual country music star because she plays the part so well. Hayden Panetierre, who plays queen bee Juliette Barnes, has been known as a pop star for years. Despite this, she has definitely embraced country music, adding excitement and personality to her songs. She fits into the country music scene incredibly. Lennon and Maisy Stella, Rayna James’ daughters on the show, were cast after being discovered on YouTube. The two girls are real life sisters and have incredible voices. Through their amazing performances on Nashville, cast members such as Lennon and Maisy Stella, Clare Bowen, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson, and Chris Carmack, to name a few, have landed spots as guest artists to sing at the Grand Ole Opry. If this doesn’t show talent I don’t know what does.

brad-paisley-1-300Along with the talent of each of the actors, many country music artists have guest stared in episodes of the show, contributing to its authenticity. Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band, Brantley Gilbert, and Brad Paisley have performed right alongside the actors in the show. The actors and singers always mesh well and look natural and normal together, despite what some might think. The songs and performances never cease to surprise me, and every one draws me into the show more than before.

Regardless of the fact that most of the characters are not “real” country singers, Nashville is a show that is captivating, suspenseful, and heart wrenching. In addition, it has created great country music. If you’ve never watched an episode of this show and you love country music, I would highly recommend it because I guarantee you will fall in love with all it has to offer.


Filed under Country Pop, Movies and TV, New Country, Reflection

The Great Alan Jackson

As any Houstonian would understand, I got super excited a few weeks ago when the Houston Rodeo performer lineup was announced and I found that many of my favorite artists were coming either again or for the first time. I was especially excited to see that Alan Jackson was performing yet again, as he is one of my all time favorite country music artists.

I had the chance to see Alan Jackson at the rodeo about three years ago and it was one of the most memorable performances I have seen there. Before this show, I had never really listened to him or heard many of his songs, but I was excited to see him nonetheless. Little did I know that he would soon become one of my favorite country singers, next to George Strait of course. Some of my favorite country songs today are ones he sung that night. I immediately fell in love with them while watching him strum his guitar under the bright lights. Whether you are in the mood for an upbeat tune or a heartfelt ballad, Alan Jackson masters it all.

Here are few of my favorite Alan Jackson songs that I have grown to love ever since seeing him in concert.

“Livin’ On Love”

I love this song because of the simple and positive message behind it. The main idea behind what Alan Jackson is singing is that all you need in the world is love. It doesn’t matter what else is going on in your life, good or bad. He implies that there isn’t meaning to your life without love in it. All that matters is that you have someone to love whether it is a family member, friend, or significant other.

“Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”

This song is a patriotic reflection of the events of 9/11. Every time I listen to this song I get overwhelming chills. He sings about all of the different places you might have been or things you might have been doing when you found out about the horrific tragedy. I love this song not only because I think it is an amazing tribute to 9/11, but also because he sings the song in a way that is touching and emotional, yet it doesn’t consume you with sadness.

“Where I Come From”

Alan Jackson touches on his down home roots in this upbeat catchy song. He reflects on where he is from and who he is as a person because of it. I particularly like how this song relates to anyone who has been far away from home and feels out of place. I’m sure we have all experienced the uncomfortable feeling of being somewhere foreign where no one knows you or who you are, but Alan Jackson embraces this situation in his song.

“Remember When”

“Remember When” is my all time favorite Alan Jackson song as well as one of my favorite country songs in general. I’m really not sure what struck me about it when I first heard it; I just knew that it touched me. I love the beautiful instrumentation throughout the entire song as well as the underlying themes of love, life, sorrow, and happiness. Every single lyric resonated some sort of feeling inside me. If you like sentimental ballads, you will enjoy this song as much as I do.


Filed under Live Music, New Country, Reflection