Author Archives: Shannon Smith

About Shannon Smith

Shannon is a 2nd generation Longhorn, an Austin native, and a 3rd year Undergraduate TexasMedia Advertising student at The University of Texas at Austin. She has worked part-time for a portfolio management company called Loan Science for a little over two years now. She has decided to go down Advertising Management track in The Stan Richards School of Advertising. Her goal is to go into the media side of advertising for an agency in New York or Los Angeles when she graduates. Country music has always been a big part of her life, so this semester she decided to enroll in "The Rhetoric of Country Music" class.

Follow Your Arrow

Country music has always featured controversial topics, but the most popular seems to be about alcohol and drugs. While other genres like rap talk about it literally, country music seems to put a comical twist on these bad habits. The artist that I believe to do the best job of tackling this subject is female country artist Kacey Musgraves. Some of my favorite songs of hers include “Follow Your Arrow,” “Blowing Smoke,” and “Merry Go ‘Round. “ Rolling Stones states “25-year-old Kacey Musgraves has become one of the loudest symbols of young country musicians embracing progressive values.”

Kacey is not only a wonderful singer, but also an incredible songwriter. She has co-written “Mama’s Broken Heart” for Miranda Lambert and “Undermine” for the ABC series Nashville. The Guardian explains that Kacey “has a way of making people feel special not by telling them that they’re special, but by reminding them that no one really is.” This is easily seen in her new songs “Biscuits” and “Cup of Tea.”

My coworker is friends with Kacey’s sister Kelly and tells me that Kacey is a little crazy, but she is as real as her songs. She loves to smoke and do drugs and doesn’t care what people think. She isn’t being fake, or trying to portray herself as someone she isn’t. I am proud that she comes from Texas and I love that her songs aren’t written for everyone. Her songs are written for the people who want to listen and can relate. She hasn’t commercialized herself in the way Nashville does to so many female country artists. Kacey is probably my favorite country female out right now and I really can’t wait to see her in concert again.

The first time I saw Kacey Musgraves in concert was when she was opening for another act. I unfortunately don’t remember who she opened for, I only remember sitting there with my mother when we heard “Follow Your Arrow” for the first time. We both looked at each other and said that she is going to be big some day. My mother still listens to Kacey today and has stated to me on several occasions that she want to see her in concert again

I have posted some of the songs I have mentioned in this post below. I really hope you enjoy them and I am curious to hear what you all think about this newer female country artist.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Politics, Texas, Women

Shannon’s Country Music Experience

I have loved getting to know the city of Austin and all it has to offer. For my country music experience project I am reflecting on:

Dancing at Midnight Rodeo
San Antonio Rodeo with Brad Paisley
Watching the CMA Awards with my mom
Watching the movie Cars with my friends.

I hope you enjoy!


This has been a wonderful semester because I have had the opportunity to learn more about country music. Country music has always been my favorite type of music. My mom would constantly have a country music CD playing in our house. I was not originally familiar with older country music sub-genres, or how country music has changed over the years, but after taking this class I feel more knowledgeable and cultured on the subject.

My first country music experience happened last November with my mother. Each and every year we take the time to sit down and watch the Country Music Awards. We both love country music and enjoy watching Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley host. We don’t typically have time to watch the ACM awards together only because it comes on during the middle of all of my school projects. This year Brad Paisley leaked out the sex of Carrie Underwood’s baby. My mother absolutely loves Blake Shelton and I am a big Miranda Lambert fan, so it was great seeing them take home Male and Female Vocalist of the Year. This is a tradition we will continue to honor in the future and I always look forward to my mother’s candid reactions.

The second country music experience occurred in San Antonio with my ex-boyfriend. For our anniversary we decided to take a trip the San Antonio Rodeo to see one of our favorite artists, Brad Paisley. We always love watching all of the rodeo events, but we mainly go for the concert. Unlike most concerts, the rodeo demand that the artists stay on schedule and limits the interaction with the audience. Our seats were almost are far back as you can get in section 224, but we still had a blast.

The next thing I did was have a fun movie night with my friends. We all love the movie Cars, so it was perfect that we choose a movie that was on the country music list. I love Rascal Flatt’s song “Life is a Highway” so the fact that this movie features that song makes it a great movie in my book. This movie also includes Brad Paisley’s “Behinf the Clouds,” Sheryl Crows “Real Gone,” and James Taylor’s “Our Town.” Say that this movie has an amazing soundtrack is an understatement. The playful storyline was just icing on the cake.

The last thing I did was go to Midnight Rodeo with my some of my friends. We drank and danced all night long. I really enjoy dancing with different people and learning different styles of two-stepping. We went on a night where there was a performer, so we got to see John Wolfe. This artist reminded me of George Straight because the song style and the tone in his voice was almost exactly the same.

This class had taught me a lot about country music and the city of Austin. Now, I find myself listening to the older country music songs by Loretta Lynn and even Bob Wills. This project was a lot of fun and really opened my eyes to everything Austin has to offer.


Filed under Uncategorized

Death in a Country Song

Country music has always been known for telling a captivating story. While many people believe that all country song are about beer, girls, and trucks, artists are still writings songs that break the norm and touch people’s heart. Country music tells beautiful stories about birth, intriguing stories about life, and unfortunately the sad truths about death. After doing my album analysis of Martina McBride’s Eleven, I started thinking about how many country songs cover the tragic story of death and sickness.

Martina McBride’s “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” is about a wife and mother of three who finds out she has breast cancer. The song follows her before, during, and after her treatments. Luckily, the woman in Martina McBride’s song doesn’t die, but instead pushes through the treatment with the support from her husband. This song ends on a happy note because no one passes away, but unfortunately not every song has such a happy ending.

Alabama’s “The Christmas Shoes” played on my iPod yesterday and I couldn’t help but tear up. This emotional song is about a young boy who is trying to buy some shoes for his mother for Christmas. The listener quickly learns that the mother is very sick and not expected to live past Christmas. The boy doesn’t have enough money to pay for the shoes, so the man behind him at the cash register helps him cover the cost. This is another song where someone is very sick, but instead of making a healthy recovery, the family is doing whatever they can to make the mother more comfortable.

Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” also ends with someone close to death, but instead takes a more inspirational turn when the man tries ensure everyone that he is going to a better place. This man’s temporary home was Earth and now he has stated that his is going home to heaven. I have seen Carrie Underwood perform this song in concert twice and each time I can’t help but think how comforting it must be to anyone who is about to, or already has lost a loved one.

The last song I will talk about is “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. I had never really listen to the lyrics of this song until heard The Band Perry preform it live last summer. This is a very sad song about a person deciding how they want to be buried if they were to die young. Most young people never even consider this, but this song is about the singer not being afraid of death.

Most rap or hip-hop song are about living life to the fullest, but country songs do a beautiful job of tackling the more emotional topics that many artists don’t like to think about.


Filed under Lists, Live Music, Music Videos, Reflection, Reviews

1990s: New Country vs. Country Pop

After reading “The Commercial Country Explosion” chapter from Jocelyn R. Neal’s book, Country Music (2012), I really began to think about the differences between “New Country” and “Country Pop” from the 1990s. I grew up listening to both of these country genres and never realized the distinction until now.

The ‘90s made way for a fresh batch of country music artists who wanted to make a new sound for themselves. On one end you had new country, a simple song form (verse-chorus) that involved two-step, waltz and Cajun two beat rhythms, while country-pop contains pop riffs and the short memorable hooks. The country pop sound really evolved with the changes in technology and began to feature sound effects, a full harmony backup and dense musical textures. New country on the other hand highlighted the fiddle, steel guitar, and a sharper drum sound. These genres also introduced the distorted electric guitar solos that today audience loves so much.

The instrumentals weren’t the only thing that distinguished these two genres. The artist’s voices were inherently different as well. New country included male artists like Garth Brooks and Tim Mcgraw, whose baritone voices began to smooth out the honky-tonk twang. New country’s female artists, like Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride, became known for their open throated ballad singing. Country pop featured auto-tune and took on younger and sexier sounds with artists like Shania Twain and Keith Urban.

The themes that these two genres tackled were also inherently different. Country pop was very optimistic and included concepts of personal fulfillment and independence (“Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain). New country featured songs about societal problems, feminist concerns, and working class values (“Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks). Both themes really helped push society and country music into the 21st century.

I personally love both genres because my mother used to play both around the house while I was growing up. There are so many differences between the two genres that I could never pick a favorite. I have included some of my favorite songs from both genres below so that you can see the differences for yourself. The 90s amazing time for country music because the artists began to put on stadium concerts and really connect with their fans on a whole new level. Country music wouldn’t be what it is today without both country pop and new country.


Filed under Country Pop, Country Subgenres, Live Music, New Country, Reflection

Is Blake Shelton the New Face of Country Music?

The Washington Post released an article on January 24, 2015 called, “How Blake Shelton replaced Taylor Swift as the face of country music.” This article was prompted after Blake Shelton hosted “Saturday Night Live.” The article goes on to explain that Blake Shelton “is the first country singer to host the famed late-night sketch show since Taylor Swift, who took the stage in November 2009, way back when she was decidedly still a country star.”

This isn’t Blake’s first television debut and rumors have been confirmed that it won’t be his last. Blake Shelton is one of the main coaches on today’s most popular singing competition, “The Voice,” and the “Rolling Stone” announced on January 27th that Blake Shelton would kick off his acting career in Adam Sandler’s new ‘Ridiculous 6’ movie.

Blake Shelton’s country music career started after he debuted his first hit single “Austin” in 2001 and it remained number on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for five weeks. Since then Blake Shelton has broken the Country Airplay record with 11 consecutive No. 1 singles, and is currently the reigning CMA male vocalist of the year.

I myself attended one Blake’s concerts last year and that is when I became a huge fan. I think that Blake Shelton is an incredibly humble performer and would make a great face for country music. Blake Shelton has made if very clear that he will remain loyal to country music and his own beliefs. He seems to thrive in the spot light and so far has made country music proud. Pop culture named Taylor Swift the face of country music and I do believe that they have now voted on Blake Shelton. Many fans criticize that Taylor Swift was never country, but “CMT All-Time top 40” placed her at No. 16. It is undeniable how many pop fans Taylor Swift has opened up to country music in her career, so I believe that is unfair to write her out of country music all together.

Blake Shelton has over 10.2 million followers on twitter and is married to country superstar Miranda Lambert. I don’t know how todays country artists feel about Blake Shelton being announced “the face of country music,” but I honestly can’t think of a better candidate, who has the opportunity in today’s media to bring in more country fans. I am studying TexasMedia advertising at The University of Texas at Austin and I personally believe he does a brilliant job of connecting with his fans and evolving with technology. I would have to agree that Blake Shelton is the new face of country music whether the country fans like it or not.


Filed under Live Music, Movies and TV, New Country, Reflection