Author Archives: Gabrielle Hernandez

About Gabrielle Hernandez

Gabrielle Hernandez is a first year student at the University of Texas. Majoring in journalism, she hopes to pursue a career in New York City. Her main focus is in broadcast journalism. Country music entered her life at a very young age. She and her father would dance around the house listening to George Strait and Brooks and Dunn. She was born in the city but has the heart of a country girl. You can contact her through her personal blog at

Gaby’s Country Music Experiences

I knew that coming to school in Austin would be an experience. Coming from San Antonio, I was highly influenced by my hispanic background and the traditions of my own city. I always had the mindset that living in Austin would be an absolute culture shock. What I realized this semester is that these two cities, though very different, share one thing: country music.

Country music is has always held a high position in my life. I grew up listening to it and two-stepping was something you learned as a toddler. Seeing all the available country music opportunities in Austin made it a welcoming community. Unfortunately, my transition into college life has been rough, therefore I spent more time at home on the weekends rather than exploring all that Austin had to offer. That does not mean that I did not notice the country music influences around me. Though I did not go out and get to do as much around Austin as I had hoped, I used what free time I had to expand my country music experiences.

I do think that being in this Rhetoric of Country Music class has made me more aware of the role country music plays in everyday life. For one of my friends’ birthdays we went to Midnight Rodeo. We donned our dresses and cowboy boots, which was a normal outfit for myself but not the particular friend who was from Florida. I instantly noticed that she was changing her normal preferences to fit in and go two-stepping. She would have never listened to it in her spare time, but when thinking of a good place to have fun, two-stepping was her first choice. Sam Riggs was performing that night and it was an absolutely amazing show. This just showed me that country music, though people stereotype it as sad, is also what people look at as fun. Boots are essential when you got to UT, and they symbolize the carefree fun time that comes with living in Texas.

Watching television now constantly has me relating everything to country music. I started watching Nashville, which is all about country music. However, before this class I had no desire to watch it except for the fact that I loved Connie Britton. I was hooked as soon as I started. It was an amazing view into a world I realized I knew nothing about. Of course it is fictional, but that does not mean everything that goes on in the show is completely invalid. Viewers get to see the backstage view that otherwise is a mystery. I understand the added drama draws in viewers, but I think of that as a good thing. Once again, people who have not otherwise been exposed to country music are avid watchers of the show. Sure they might enjoy the drama and spectacle of the show, but country music is influencing their lives whether or not they realize it.

My favorite time of the year in San Antonio was rodeo season. I have gone to the rodeo almost every year of my life. This year I went to go see Hunter Hayes. Even before the performance began I noticed all the country music influences in the events. They used clips from country songs to pump the crowd up and get them involved. When Hunter came on stage, I found myself analyzing the performance. I noticed the country influences of other artists, and also how he could be considered more country pop. I listen to country music differently after this class. The lyrics, instrumentation, and delivery are all components I find myself recognizing on songs that I have listened to for years. I see this as an advantage. I am a journalism major so this training to look deeper and find a message is a great quality to have developed.

Another thing I noticed was that I was much more excited for the Academy of Country Music Awards. They took place in Dallas which made me feel pride for my home state. I watched the performances intently. I listened to each song from the categories and compared how they were similar and different. I can’t help but feel nothing but pride when an event like this takes place somewhere so close to me. One of my friends got to go to the show and I was extremely jealous. However, I realized something. Watching the performances live would be amazing, but the song doesn’t change. The lyrics are the same whether you are in a giant arena or a small dorm room. Country music isn’t about where you hear it, but about what you hear.

This semester has flown by, but my time here in Austin is nowhere near over. I have a few more years to expand my country music experiences. Hopefully once I am more comfortable here I will stay on the weekends and explore museums or iconic country music spots. I do know that Austin’s country music audience is large. Sure people joke about it being awful and annoying. Little do they know that it influences their life too. Boots are essential when you got to UT, and they symbolize the carefree fun time that comes with living in Texas. These are country staples and they find their way on people who don’t even listen to the music. They play country songs at sporting events. Whether people realize it, country music is making it into their lives. Country music can not hurt anyone, if anything it only opens people’s eyes to different ideas about life.


Filed under Austin, Awards, Live Music, Reflection, Texas, Uncategorized

Drive Down Memory Lane

I have traveled back in time a bit with my album analysis essay. When I was deciding what album to write about I decided to ask my dad what artist I should choose. My dad was the first person to introduce me to country music and I am very thankful for this. I ended up choosing Toby Keith’s Greatest Hits Volume One. My dad had a cassette of this in his blue pickup truck. I can vividly remember my tiny self sitting in the passenger seat as he drove me out to the small town of Nixon, Texas to visit family. Down the dirt roads we went singing along to “Should’ve Been A Cowboy.” In memory of the country music that influenced my childhood, I present a few of the songs I loved to sing along to back then.

First, sticking with the intro, is “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” by Toby Keith. I just remember him singing about “Miss Kitty” which I automatically thought at the time was about my Pre-K teacher who went by the same name. I loved this song, and still do.

Another one of my favorites was “All My Exes Live In Texas.” Sure I didn’t have any “exes” like  George Strait, but it was a catchy song. I loved songs about the state where I lived and since King George was from my beloved Texas, I appreciated it even more.

My dad took me to my first rodeo when I was six years old. The performers were Brooks and Dunn. I loved every minute of that night. I remember my dad and I dancing around the house to their music. He’s the one who taught me how to two step. The song that he and I dance to at every family event is “Neon Moon.” It is not necessarily anything about the message, but for some reason this has stuck as our dance song.

One of the greats, Garth Brooks, also played an important role in my upbringing. “Friends in Low Places” was a favorite. I was fun to sing with my whole heart to. I loved performing when I was little. You can bet this was one of the songs in my lineup.

This final song was and still is one of my absolute favorites. Tim McGraw’s “Don’t Take the Girl” is a sad song, but nonetheless one I never tire of hearing. McGraw is one of my favorite artists and I think it is because of this beautiful song.

You have now experienced a little bit of my childhood. I hope you enjoy listening to these songs as much as I do. Thanks to my dad for bringing me up as a country girl living in the city.


Filed under Lists, Reflection, Texas, Uncategorized

I’m Not Gonna Miss You

Gowns, tuxedos, the red carpet, and little golden men. Put them all together and what do you get? The 87th annual Academy Awards. This is the biggest night in Hollywood. You might be wondering “Yeah okay the Oscars are about movies…how does country music come into play?” Well, my friend, I have two words: Glen Campbell.

Campbell’s song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was nominated for Best Original Song. The song, written by Campbell as well as Julian Raymond, was featured at the end of his documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. They took home a Grammy for the song just a few weeks ago.

147391In 2011, the country-pop icon announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He is now 78 and suffering through the late stages of the disease. The song was written as a love letter to his family. It details how he won’t understand the pain they feel when his memory is lost to the disease. Raymond commented on the situation saying that Campbell unfortunately could not comprehend what the Oscar nomination meant because of this condition.

Due to his health circumstances, Campbell was unable to travel to the Academy Awards to perform his song. His family personally asked fellow country music artist Tim McGraw to perform the song in his place. McGraw and wife Faith Hill attended the awards last night, as well as Campbell’s wife and daughter.

B-fVwW5CAAA0avDSeated on a stool set on center stage, McGraw gave a performance that definitely tugged at some heartstrings. With nothing to distract from solely listening to the lyrics, Campbell’s song was absorbed by those who heard it. Anyone who has or knows someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can feel the heartbreak of the song. It is the person(s) the song is directed towards rather than the person singing the lyrics who is the one suffering emotional pain.

His song did not take home the Oscar, but I know his family took home something from the performance. It was a very heartfelt tribute to a great artist. I listened to Campbell himself perform the song and it is hauntingly beautiful. McGraw executed the performance with grace.

The music video for his song shows clips of Campbell through the years. With and without the disease, his love for his family shows through. “You’re the last person I will love/You’re the last face I will recall/And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you.”


Filed under Awards, Countrypolitan, Live Music, Song Analysis

Country Music at the Grammys

One of the biggest nights for the music industry took place on Sunday. The 57th annual Grammy Awards took place in Los Angeles and there were countless big name artists present. Hosted by L.L Cool J, the show featured many live performance as well as a star studded audience. I, being a award show junkie, sat down and was ready for a great night. Unfortunately, what I noticed this year is the underrepresentation of country artists. There are four categories that are specifically tailored to the country genre. However, only one was announced live on the air. I found this quite disappointing seeing as I am a huge fan of country music and most of the artists I love weren’t even present.

The winners of the night were not necessarily my picks but the competition was pretty tough. Miranda Lambert was the only country artist to receive her award for Best Country Album on air. Carrie Underwood won in the category of Best Country Solo Performance for her song “Something in the Water” while The Band Perry took the Grammy for Best Group Performance. In the final category of Best Country Song, the Grammy went to Glen Campbell for “I’m Not Going to Miss You.” I really wish they would have presented these awards live and give these artists, as well as the nominees, the recognition they deserved. A list of all the winners  can be found at

The first country performance of the night was by Miranda Lambert. She performed her song “Little Red Wagon” which I had not heard before. I have seen many of her previous performances, but this one was definitely edgier. She was dressed in black leather from head to toe, and the added pyrotechnics created an energetic atmosphere. The song itself was shocking since I thought it sounded like it was influenced by rock music. Her performance was great but I think it was more of a crossover into contemporary music rather than her typical “twangy” sound.

eric_church_463034182Eric Church also performed “Give Me Back my Hometown” at the show. It was a typical performance for him. He stood center stage strumming his guitar, all the while sporting his famous sunglasses. Once he concluded, the focus shifted to Brandy Clark who then performed “Hold My Hand” with Dwight Yoakum. Seeing Dwight was a surprise since I had no reason beforehand to expect his presence at the show. Nonetheless, this duo sounded fantastic.

While I love awards shows representing all genres of music, I am grateful for the ones that deal strictly with country music. I love seeing all my favorites artists enjoying themselves on a night of music, awards, and glamour. However, the Grammys were quite entertaining as a whole. Congratulations to all the winners, but especially to those artists representing country music.


Filed under Awards, News

Home Is Where the Rodeo Is

San Antonio, Texas. I hold so much pride for this city, seeing it is my hometown. There are so many unique aspects to the city whether it be Fiesta, the Alamo, or our five time NBA champions, the San Antonio Spurs. Yes I love all of these things, but the one event I look forward to most is right around the corner. The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is one of the best ways to experience the culture and music of country life. From the clothes to the food, this event has “country” written all over it. I have been to rodeos in other places such as Austin and Houston, but nothing compares to San Antonio’s. I think I may be biased in the fact that I call San Antonio home.

I remember my first rodeo like it was yesterday. I was a little six year old wearing a blue jean skirt, vest, cowboy boots, and a black cowboy hat. Needless to say I was dressed to the nines for the occasion. My dad took me and my friend early so we could walk around the rodeo grounds. After a short visit to the carnival, we finally went into the AT&T center and took our seats. We sat in the nosebleed section but watched each event in amazement. It didn’t matter where we were sitting, that we were there at all was good enough. Then it was time for the entertainment. Brooks and Dunn came on stage and I sang my little heart out. Having listened to country music since birth, this was the epitome of my six years of life. I have been hooked on the rodeo ever since.

My friends and I at our latest rodeo

My friends and I at our latest rodeo

My rodeo experience has come a long way since then. This past year I was fortunate enough to sit in the first row for the show. I knew I would never be able to experience a rodeo any other way. Being up close and personal with the rodeo clowns and cowboys was incredible. My friends and I sat with our boots up on the fence as cowboys riding horses passed by, occasionally kicking a bit of dirt our way. I have to admit though, it was a bit scary when the bulls came close to the fence.

Tim McGraw shaking my hand as he passed by

Tim McGraw shaking my hand as he passed by

Finally it was time for one of my favorite country artists to perform. I was on the edge of seat in anticipation. Tim McGraw gave one of the greatest shows I have ever experienced. He sang his new and old hits. Finally when he was finished performing he participated in a much loved post show ritual. He rode in the back of  a pickup truck saying “hi” to fans and shaking their hands. Words cannot describe how I felt when coming in contact with one of my favorite people. I know no rodeo experience will ever live up to that moment, and I owe it all to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

I am so appreciative that I grew up in a city that allowed me to express my love of country music. Rodeo season is quickly approaching and once again I will be in attendance. This year I will be seeing Hunter Hayes. Yes, front row again. Hopefully I will be able to see more of my favorite artists this year, but going to school here in Austin makes it difficult to make it down for the shows. Maybe I will give the Austin Rodeo another go round, but I know there is nothing like home.

1 Comment

Filed under Live Music