Category Archives: Awards

When Will Country Let Go of Taylor Swift?

Country music is part of Taylor Swift’s past. In fact, she transcended the country music genre to become one of pop music’s top stars. However, country music awards continue to eagerly embrace the cultural icon, as demonstrated by her recent participation in the Academy of Country Music Awards.

At the ACMs, Swift received a Milestone Award that recognized her career achievements. To put things into perspective, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Miranda Lambert, and Kenny Chesney also received The Milestone Award. However, those artists sit firmly in the country music genre. Of course, the Academy of Country Music is well justified in maintaining a connection to Swift.

Taylor Swift honors her country music past. In Swift’s acceptance speech of The Milestone Award she thanked Nashville for teaching her how to write songs. Swift performed her first hit “Tim McGraw” on the ACM stage in 2007 when her career was beginning to take off. The next year Swift won the Top New Female Vocalist. After that moment her career accomplishments multiplied.

taylor-swift-acm-awards-2015-01Taylor Swift is a household name. The press follows her fashion, her relationships and her business decisions. Her album sales prove her success. Her new album “1989” spent 24 straight weeks in the top five of the Billboard 200. It was also the first album to sell one million traditional US copies in 2015.

Taylor Swift helps other artists. With the world’s fourth largest Twitter following, when she mentions an artist, her fans respond by buying the album in droves. She also gives singers with their first album a spot on her tours, helping to propel them to success.

Taylor Swift provides a huge ratings boost. Non-country fans likely watch shows just to see her. Now that she’s pop, is it too much of a stretch to see her at a country music award show? When her previous album “Red” came out and the sounds of pop music shined through, country radio still played those songs. However, 1989 is not played on country stations at all.

taylor-swift-acm-awards-20154As Swift accepted the award she said, “Somebody once told me that you truly see who a person is when you tell them something they don’t want to hear…And so to the country music community, when I told you that I had made a pop album and that I wanted to go explore other genres, you showed me who you are with the grace you accepted that with. I will never forget it.”

With these words, it seemed as if Swift said her final farewell to country music. She gave the country audience a bit of closure, but can country music award shows afford to let her go?


Filed under Awards, Country Pop, Movies and TV, Women

Randle’s Country Music Adventure

This semester I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the Rhetoric of Country Music class where we were challenged to take the learning beyond the classroom and actually participate in the country music world. I didn’t have to travel far to experience a live performance in west campus by Turnpike Troubadours, go two-stepping at the world’s largest Honky-Tonk, watch the movie Country Strong, and finally watch the 50th anniversary of the Academy of Country Music Awards. By participating in all of these things, my eyes were opened to how dominant country music is in Austin in particular and all over the country.

I grew up in a very small town in northeast Texas, so country music has always been familiar to me, even though I didn’t know much about it. I enjoyed the way it sounded on the radio, but I never knew the names of artists or how interesting the country music industry really is. I wanted to take the Rhetoric of Country Music class so I could learn more about the genre of music I’m always surrounded by, but I had no idea how much I would actually get out of this class. When I moved to Austin I had no idea that I was moving to one of the most historic cities for music, especially country music. It’s not just about the history, though, because Austin still has live country performances going on around almost every corner. There was even a live performance around the corner from my dorm in west campus, where Turnpike Troubadours was playing at a fraternity house. I loved the simplistic style of the band and how playing for just a bunch of college kids didn’t bother them. I also got the chance to go two-stepping at Billy Bob’s, the world’s largest Honky-Tonk located at the Fort Worth Stockyards. In addition to experiencing the performance side of country music, I also saw the huge role country music has played in movies like Country Strong. I also watched the Academy of Country Music Awards on television, which proved that there are numerous fans of country and the artists are among the most talented in music history.

However, the things that I mentioned are not where my country music adventure ends. I am constantly noticing the influence this project has had on my view of music in general. I always figured that music was divided into genres that acted as hard lines between different sounds. But now I realize that country music can blend into other genres as well and the hard lines do not exist. When I watch a country performance on television or even live, I notice all aspects of the performance instead of just the song. I look at the outfits, the instruments, the props, the delivery, and the audience. So much goes into making a song or performer successful that I did not realize before. I have also learned that the history of music is just as important as history you’d read about in a textbook in school. Music reflects the political, social, and economical aspects of the time it was created. Many country music artists have created songs about gay rights, feminism, poor vs. rich, etc. Country music speaks about real life situations and challenges people to think about the issues around them. I am lucky to be in Austin where the country music history is rich and still thriving. When I walk by a live performance in a bar, I wonder if that performer will one day be famous because many artists had humble beginnings that began right here in Austin. This project has taught me how to think critically about how music reflects real people and real issues in a creative way. Instead of accepting a song at face value, I notice all aspects and wonder what the artist is trying to accomplish as a performer. This project has also made me proud that I have grown up around the rich and diverse genre of country music, where the boundaries never cease to be pushed.


Filed under Austin, Awards, Honky Tonk, Storify, Texas

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

Keaton’s Experiences in Country Music


This class has really taught me a whole lot about country music that I didn’t know before. Through experiences such as two-stepping at Midnight Rodeo, seeing the Willie Nelson statue in downtown Austin, reading about Billy Bob’s in the Texas Music Magazine and watching the ACM Awards, I have earned a great deal of respect for the entire country music scene and view country music in a whole new light.


Throughout this semester I have learned so much about country music and the whole country music scene in general We have covered everything from the roots of country music, to the greats like George Strait, to good ol’ Texas country, brand new country and beyond. I felt like I knew a lot about country music coming into this class, especially being from Cowtown, or Fort Worth, Texas. I could have never imagined just how much about county music I have learned from this class. Doing the experiences for this class have also really helped me to appreciate just how much country music has had an impact not just on me, but on the entire music community.

One of the best experiences I have had with country music, not just this semester, but in general, was two-stepping at a few dance halls in Austin and Fort Worth. I think one of the most important things about country music is that you are able to two-step to it. Not only was learning how to two step fun for me, I also enjoyed just watching people dance around the floor. Anytime a “classic” song came on, there was a whole mix of young and old people who seemed to appear out of nowhere, singing the words and dancing along, it was a really nice experience to see.

Speaking of dance halls, the article I read over Billy Bob’s was actually a really great article. It’s always a bit nostalgic to read anything pertaining to Fort Worth. As I mentioned earlier, I was born and raised just outside of Fort Worth, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the Stockyards and been to the Rodeo and Billy Bob’s a good number of times. I felt like I was an expert of everything to do with Fort Worth coming into the class. However, on one of the very first weeks of class, we read a chapter from “Honky Tonk Debutante” that was all about Fort Worth, and I learned a whole bunch of stuff about the history of Fort Worth that I never knew about, so that was something really cool to me, and it made me really appreciate this class.

Another thing I did this semester was actually sit down and watch the ACM awards. I used to watch that every year with my grandparents, but hadn’t watched in a few years when the whole “Bro-country” music scene started to take over. Even still, I sat down and watched it this year, and was actually pleasantly surprised by the show. Now, that doesn’t mean I agree with everyone that won some of the awards, but I think that happens with any awards show I watch, but still, I felt like the ACM show had a really good mix of old and new country. They even kicked off the show with one of my favorites, the King of Country, George Strait. I watched this year with a more open mind to some of the newer artist that performed, and actually found myself enjoying their performances as well as those of my favorites like Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson.

Overall, this class has taught me so much about the history and the meaning behind a lot of things relating to country music. We learned about everything from themes that frequently appear, to the lyrics used, to the structure of the songs. Now, every time I listen to country music I find myself actually trying to find the meaning of the song, instead of just listening for the fun of it. I have a whole new sense of appreciation for country music thanks to this class, and I find myself enjoying every little experience I have with it. From country standards like two-stepping, to something as simple as seeing the statue of Willie Nelson in the middle of busy downtown Austin, this class has opened my eyes to a whole new world of country music and I know that this newfound sense of appreciation will stick with me for a long time.


Filed under Austin, Awards, Class work, Classic Country, Country Pop, Dancing, Reflection, Storify

Katie’s Country Music Reflection

For my project the four things that I focused on was going to Billy Bob’s and attending a concert, going to Nutty Brown and attending a concert, taking a picture at the Willie Nelson statue, and then watching some of the American Country Music Awards. It was great getting to explore some of the most iconic country music places in Texas, while being able to keep up with country music on a more national level. Through this project I was able to explore new places, listen to great music, learn about country music history, and watch artists make history.

Billy Bob’s and the whole Fort Worth experience

Nutty Brown is a local Austin treasure. On top of it being a famous venue, I also got to see one of Texas Country’s most famous bands. At Nutty Brown, I got to see the Josh Abbott Band perform. This was probably one of the most fun concerts I have been too. The venue creates this wonderful atmosphere that just makes you want to dance. It is an out door venue where people can stand close to the stage or sit back and relax at some picnic tables. In addition to the venue, the band was fantastic. They played all of my favorite songs and they put on an amazing live show. Another iconic Texas place that I went to was Billy Bob’s. This was quite the experience for me. Not being from Texas I had not clue that dance halls like Billy Bob’s existed. The place was huge and had everything, even containing a bull-riding arena. The performer that night was Sara Evans. She was fantastic and the place was packed for her. I wrote about my experience going to Billy Bob’s for one of my blog posts. In addition, one of my favorite things about going to both these concerts was being able to see a band that embodies Texas Country while the other one has made her success in Nashville. I was able to experience two country concerts through this project that have two totally different backgrounds. Moving on, I went and took a picture with the Willie Nelson Statue. I never realized how famous this statue was until this class. I went this past weekend to take a picture and had to wait in a line, granted it wasn’t a long line, but still there were other people wanting to get their picture with Willie. It is very neat to see how the Austin community honors Willie, with not only the statue but also naming a street after him and building the new Willie Nelson exhibit in football stadium. Since I stayed mostly local doing this project I decided to watch the ACMs. I had already written a blog post about the major performances that would be happening so I wanted to watch the show to see how those turned out. My favorite part of award shows is watching the performances anyways so it was a win win for me. According the article written by Billboard the two worst performances of the night were the cross genre duets. This is surprising and funny because this was the main focus of my blog article due to the amount of hype that was being created for these performances. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this project because I don’t believe I would have actually experienced these things, which would have been a shame.


Filed under Austin, Awards, Class work, Country Symbols, Dancing, Live Music, Movies and TV, Music Videos, Reflection, Reviews, Storify, Texas, USA