Author Archives: Sierra Smith

How Austin Changed My Perspective of Country Music

Coming from a small town in southern California, I never really understood the impact that country music has had on numerous people and places all across the U.S. Since coming to Texas, I almost had no choice but to integrate myself within the country culture that this state is so proud of sharing. I was hesitant at first to give up my California roots, but after experiencing country music’s influence in Austin by participating in two-step dancing, attending a country concert, and watching the a country music award show, it has really furthered my appreciation and knowledge of this genre, and ultimately changed my perception of country music overall.

IMG_0841First off, I have been a dancer my entire life, but two-stepping was something I never knew how to do. When I went to Broken Spoke here in Austin for a chapter wide mixer, it was my first time really learning this style of dance. I remember not knowing any of the songs that I was dancing to that night, unlike everyone else. But since dancing and listening to the variety of country songs that played that night, it really increased my interest, and intrigued me to learn more about this genre. With that said, this night definitely marks the foundation of where my appreciation for country music all began.

Also, about a month later, my friends convinced me to go to the Josh Abbot Band concert with them. It wouldn’t have been my first choice to go see them in concert, but since tickets were cheap and I was beginning to like country music I decided why not! I never realized how big of fans my friends were of the Josh Abbot band until I heard them belting at the top of their lungs to “She Likes Texas.” Unfortunately, I didn’t join in, as I was unfamiliar with the song after only being minimally exposed to country music thus far. But, after seeing the whole crowd sing along to several of the band’s songs, it really showed me what I am missing out on when it comes to this genre of music. Since this concert, I have taken a greater interest in the genre by familiarizing myself with other popular country artists, and expanding my music library to create a more diverse array of songs.

Lastly, after experiencing both these events, as well as taking this class, I was inspired to watch the 2015 Country Music Awards. It was amazing for me to see just how many country artists I recognized that performed, were nominated, or won awards, such as Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Hank Williams Jr., and Chris Stapleton. Because I am now familiar with country artists and have an appreciation for the history of the genre, watching this show was a much more enjoyable experience for me. Since watching this show, it really made me realize just how much my knowledge of this genre has progressed since being first exposed to country music.

Overall, my perception of country music has tremendously evolved over the course of this class. I originally came with stereotypical thoughts regarding this genre, and since have really come to appreciate what this genre has to offer. Not only was I able to learn about the history and techniques behind country music by taking this class, but I was also able to experience this genre first hand through interactive events that have ultimately expanded my knowledge of the genre, and influenced me to take an active role in furthering my appreciation for country music.

1 Comment

Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5, Concert, Dancing, Movies and TV, Reflection

What Happened to Faith Hill?

Faith_Hill-CountryMusicRocks.net_When you were young, who was your favorite country artist to listen to? Some may say Garth Brooks, George Strait, or Shania Twain (who were all popular during the 1990s), but ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed listening to Faith Hill and her pop style of country music. Usually my dad is the one who introduces me to different genres of music because of his passion for the music industry, but it was actually my mom who first introduced me to country music. She always used to put on Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow, or Shania Twain in the car wherever we would go. But lately, I haven’t heard much of Faith Hill, which saddens me because, at the time, she was my role model.

Faith Hill is known as one of the most successful country artists of all time having sold over 40 million records worldwide, with several number 1 hits throughout her entire career. Hill got started in the music industry quite early, performing at local churches and rodeos in Ridgeland, Mississippi. But by the age of 19 Hill had really found a passion for country music as she decided to drop out of school and move to Nashville to pursue her life long dream of becoming a famous country singer. There she debuted her first album Take Me as I Am, released in 1993, and her song “Wild One,” which soared to the top of Billboard’s charts for a month straight…This ultimately kick started Hill’s career.

10705By the time that Hill was becoming increasingly popular, she decided to come out with a second album in 1995 titled It Matters to Me. During this time of her career, she began touring and ended up meeting the famous country singer Tim McGraw, and the two have been married ever since.

GTY_tim_mcgraw_faith_hill_jef_140618_16x9_992At the turn of the century, Faith Hill became more interested in the mainstream, pop-oriented sound of country music. This is the period of time where most of my favorite Faith Hill songs come from, such as “This Kiss,” “Breathe,” and “The Way You Love Me,” simply because of the catchy music, the romantic lyrics, and the popularity of each song. “This Kiss” became an automatic country hit with more than 6 million copies of the album being sold.

“Breathe” debuted at the top of the Billboard Country and all genre charts in 1999 as well as on the Billboard Top 100 Chart in 2000.

Not to mention, “The Way You Love Me” charted in the top 10 in 2000 as well!

This was Hill’s big breakthrough as an artist as this album Breathe won her 3 Grammys for the Best Country Album, the Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, and the Best Country Female Vocal Performance, as well as an American Music Award for Favorite Country Album.

Since then, Faith Hill has created a name for herself as “the girl next door.” She gives off that sexy image, but yet is still inspiring to young girls like me who were listening to her number 1 hits at this time across all media platforms. Hill was also said to have influenced Taylor Swift as she was her “idol since [she] saw her on both VH1 and CMT…”gal-cmt-07-jpg

Faith Hill has always been one of my favorite country female artists because of her inspirational songs, and her positive presence in the spotlight. It’s a shame that she has stopped creating such catchy and fun music for her fans, but regardless, she will always be the one I remember when I think of my first experience with country music.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, Women

Cam: The New Up-And-Coming Country Singer

Some people may think that seeing female artists become popular in country music is a rare sight. However, over the years, more women have been increasing their presence within this genre despite the difficulties of doing so. Everyone can agree that we have seen Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, etc. come to fame with their songs hitting number 1 in country music charts. But recently, there has been a new and upcoming female country music singer who is said to have her new single “Burning House” become a number 1 hit as well.

31957468_800_800Camaron Ochs, or more commonly known as Cam, is an American country singer born and raised in San Francisco, California. Country music for Cam has always been a passion of hers as she grew up listening to Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, and Willie Nelson. With this passion for country music, she decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee to begin a career as a singer/songwriter. She released her debut song “My Mistake” in 2014 and it was featured at No. 58 on Billboard’s Country Airplay. But, more recently, Cam has come out with her second (and more popular) single “Burning House” that has reached the top 20 on Country Airplay and is already No. 4 on Billboard’s US Hot Country Songs. Last week her single was No. 7 and is up 3 spots, expected to hit No. 1 soon! “Burning House” has been on the charts for 18 weeks straight, and is looking to continue its streak within the next coming weeks. Part of the reason for its popularity is that it has caught the attention of all teenage girls because of its unique and emotionally intense dream sequence about clinging to a former lover.

This song uses the imagery of a house fire as a metaphor for Cam’s previous dying relationship. Years after the couple had been separated, Cam was invited to a party that her ex would be attending. All night she tried to come up with ways on how to apologize for her actions in the past. She opens with the first verse of the song stating that she “had a dream about a burning house/you were stuck inside/I couldn’t get you out/I laid beside you and pulled you close/And the two of us went up in smoke.” This song was written and based off a dream she had one night about him burning up in a house of flames, and her rushing into the house ready to die alongside him. She continues by stating, “Love isn’t all that it seems I did you wrong,” where she explains how she is the one at fault for how poorly the relationship had ended. This is an uncommon stance for most women when they sing about love and their past relationships because most of the time you hear them singing about revenge on another instead of admitting their own mistakes. Songs like “Before He Cheats,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” and “Gunpowder and Lead” all show a different perspective on how women typically sing about their past relationships. That is exactly why this song by Cam is so unique and relates to so many girls who are experiencing the same thing she is.

Throughout this entire song you can see how Cam wants to make things right between her and her ex again. She is at a loss of how to fix it, and ultimately realizes that its best to hold on until the flames have died. With this song already taking off and becoming increasingly popular, who knows what to expect next from Cam!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Blog Post 3, Song Analysis, Women

Diversity: The Biggest Factor in Corrupting Our World

Was there ever a time in your life that you let differences between you and someone else get in the way of love? Many people might think that having differences between one another is a valid reason for love not to exist, but in Collin Raye’s song, “Not That Different,” he states otherwise. Throughout country music there have always been songs written about love and relationships. Within this genre you tend to hear both the positive and negative sides of love, but rarely do you hear both incorporated into one song. “Not That Different” is a song I grew up listening to because my dad used to be a big fan of Collin Raye. Ever since hearing this song, it has stuck with me throughout the years due to the fact that its message doesn’t have to be strictly related to just relationships; it can be interpreted on a broader scale of love between any two people. When you break this song down, its overall message talks about how people can have so many differences, yet we still are all the same. As you will see, Collin Raye presents a message to all of us that we should look past the differences with others into their personalities that lie underneath.

Within the lyrics of this song, Raye states, “We’re from two separate worlds,” but “I laugh, I love, I hope, I try/I hurt, I need, I fear, I cry/And I know you do the same things, too.” Raye continues the song by stating that these factors are “What they had in common” and that they are “Strong enough to bond them for life.” But, the line that really ties the entire song together is when he sings “So we’re really not that different, me and you.” Despite the fact that this song is particularly about Raye trying to convince a woman to look past their differences and to love him, people can still take this powerful message of the song and apply it to loving people around the world regardless of the bigger differences people face in life.


Throughout history, people have always let differences in race, gender, religion, skin color, sexual orientation, etc. affect how people treat one another. But it is important to know, despite these differences we have in comparison to other people around the world, that we all share similarities deep down inside…we are all still human. I have always found this song to be one of my favorites because of its compelling message on how love can overcome stereotypes, socioeconomic and political boundaries. Therefore, I think that this song is important for people to hear and to understand so that our world can continue to grow in a positive direction and turn away from its corrupt and judgmental state.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Song Analysis

Is That Where the Kardashians are From???

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “California?” Most people would think Hollywood, the beach, nice weather, hippies, surfing, big city, entertainment capitol, etc. All of those descriptions come with positive connotations surrounding that one word “California.” I have experienced these stereotypes first hand as I was born and raised in the valley of southern California, otherwise known as Calabasas. Whenever I describe where I am from, most people immediately associate me with being similar to the “Kardashians:” rich, stuck up, fortunate, famous, fake, pretentious, and typically someone who looks down upon others. Despite those negative descriptions, that is not at all what I consider to be “my community.”

keeping-up-with-the-kardashians-cast-376659793Yes, I am from Calabasas, but I never grew up intending to live up to the “Kardashian” lifestyle. The community where I consider myself a part of is full of busy and motivated pedestrians, crowded streets, big rolling hills, grand houses, and people who love to be outdoors enjoying the warm southern California sun. But underneath the surface level depictions, Calabasas is a community that will open its arms to all types of people regardless of race or sexual orientation, and for that reason alone, I couldn’t be more proud of where I come from.

Calabasas really shaped my outlook on country music considering the genre is almost non-existent there. No one that I know of enjoys or often listens to country music, so I was never introduced to it formally until I moved here to Texas. This is the exact reason why I chose to take this class so that I could begin to learn about this specific type of genre and surrounded myself with people who share the same interest as me.


Unfortunately, not knowing many country songs to begin with, choosing one that reminds me of my community was more challenging than expected. I originally had chosen the song Feeling Fine California by Kristian Bush because I thought it was a perfect song to describe where I grew up in California, but I wanted to dig deeper into the meanings of some of these country songs, which led me to choose Boondocks by Little Big Town. This song really hits home for me especially since its lyrics talk about how he is proud of where he comes from. Even though the artist and I come from different small towns, I can relate to him and the way he feels about his hometown through his passion in his voice and the powerful lyrics he sings. Additionally, he sings about the things that he has learned from being in that small town such as learning about life, love, working hard, and Jesus, just as I did while being from my small town.

As an out of state student here at Texas it sometimes feels like I don’t belong simply because 95% of the students here were born and raised in Texas. But despite what others think, just as the song states, I am proud of where I come from, and that’s where my heart and soul will always remain.


Filed under Blog Post 1