Category Archives: Class work

Country Music HOF: Class Exercise


The Country Music Association (CMA) was founded in 1958 while country music was experiencing something of an identity and commercial crisis. With Elvis Presley, rock music, and the Top 40 format all on the rise, industry leaders feared that if they didn’t take action country music could disappear completely.

One of the CMA’s goals was to prove to the world outside of Nashville that country music had a significant audience and could make a lot of money. In a memo to radio stations interesting in tapping into the country audience, the organization offered the following guidelines:

Don’t approach the Country Music listener as a “different” type animal. . . . Don’t instruct your announcer to “sound country.” There is no reason for deejays to take on a phony accent, or drawl, because they’re programming Country Music. Don’t assume the Country Music listener is less intelligent than any other. . . . Be careful that your programming is not slanted down to your audience. Country Music fans are intelligent people. (Qtd. in Pecknold 147)

Since 1961, the CMA has also operated a Hall of Fame (HOF). The HOF’s procedures have evolved over time, but recently it has stuck to inducting members in three categories. The first category recognizes a “Veterans Era” performer, which means an artist or group that rose to national prominence at least 45 years ago. The second category recognizes a “Modern Era” performer, which means an artist or a group that rose to national prominence between 20 and 45 years ago. Lastly, the HOF makes an additional induction every year of someone who isn’t a performer. Sometimes it’s an instrumentalist, songwriter, or comedian. Other times, it’s a producer or studio executive. In our class, we’ll focus on the “Veteran” and “Modern” performer categories.

Today’s assignment

In class today, you will write a response to this post that includes two parts.

  • First, summarize the criteria that the HOF uses to decide the artists that it will induct. To do this, you will need to extrapolate your answer from a variety of sources including the excerpt from The Selling Sound and the HOF’s website. You’ll notice that both of these sources indicate several reasons that a performer may be inducted. Which to you seem like the most important?
  • Second, select one performer who has been inducted since 2009 and explain how he or she meets the criteria that you just outlined. You will need to do some additional research into the performer that you choose (using Wikipedia, etc.) to explain your answer.

Lastly, if you already know who you want to propose as a new member of the HOF in your final paper of the semester, then say who it is and briefly why.


Filed under Class work, Hall of Fame

Country Music Hall of Fame: The Class of 2015 & 5 People who Still Haven’t Been Recognized

Note to students: You’re welcome to comment on this post for a grade.

HOF Class of 2015Earlier this week, the Country Music Hall of Fame formally welcomed its new class of inductees, which included the vocal harmony groups the Browns (in the Veterans Era category) and the Oak Ridge Boys (in the Modern Era category), as well as the iconic guitarist Grady Martin. At some point, the new members and the old members who attended the ceremony got together for the kind of photograph that my family takes after weddings and other family reunions. Looking at the picture, I had the following thoughts:

  • Of course Brenda Lee is sitting in Grady’s son’s lap. She’s 70 years old and still the queen of the “Christmas party hop.”
  • What a shame that Jim Ed Brown, the best known of the three Browns, couldn’t make it. At least the Hall of Fame had the heart to bring the medal to his hospital bed before he died.
  • For all the complaining I do about the Hall of Fame, I have to admit they made a great decision inducting Connie White. Despite the record-shattering success she had with “Once a Day” in 1964, she’s exactly the kind of woman performer that the Hall of Fame typically overlooks.
  • In this group, Vince Gill (58) and Garth Brooks (53) look like teenagers. Vince needs to shave.

I also couldn’t help but wonder about all the people without medals who were left to stand around eating cocktail weenies on toothpicks while the picture was being taken — among them Garth’s wife Trisha Yearwood and Connie’s husband Marty Stuart.

But Trisha and Marty are only two of many worthy performers who are still waiting for the Hall to welcome them in. Being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame wouldn’t mean anything if they let everybody in, and yet there are some exclusions that make me scratch my head more than others.

Here are five names that I would love to see recognized next year with plaques in that hallowed Nashville rotunda:

1. Rose Maddox

The Maddox Brothers and RoseRose Maddox led a storied career as a sassy country belle for more than 40 years. As the lead vocalist of the Maddox Brothers and Rose in the 1940s and 1950s, she helped invent rockabilly music, she popularized the flashy suits that everyone from Porter Wagoner to Marty Robbins would be wearing by the late 1960s, and she primed the live country scene in California for the likes of Wynn Stewart (also uninducted), Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard. As a soloist in the 1960s, she had several chart hits, and her influence can be heard in many of the women who followed her into the industry, among them Jean Shepard, Wanda Jackson, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton — all of whom (but Wanda, see below) have beat poor Rose into the Hall of Fame. Seriously, what more can a gal do?

2. Skeeter Davis

In 1953, Skeeter Davis and her friend Betty Jack Davis made history as the first female group to hit #1 on the country charts with “I Forgot More than You’ll Ever Know about Him.” Their hopes of becoming a successful duo were dashed later that summer, when Betty Jack was killed in a car accident. A few years later, Skeeter re-emerged as a solo performer, and in the early 1960s she racked up a number of pop-country crossover hits including “The End of the World,” which is one of the decade’s most enduring songs in any genre. In the 1970s, she shed her image as an innocent girl singer and recorded edgier material including the anti-war song “One Tin Soldier.” Along with Dottie West she is one of the few major stars of the Nashville Sound era who hasn’t yet been recognized by the Hall of Fame.

3. Stonewall Jackson

While we’re on the subject of big stars from the 1960s who’re still waiting for their Hall of Fame plaques, let’s talk about Stonewall Jackson. As one might expect from a guy who was named after a Confederate general, Jackson brought an appreciation of history to some of his biggest hits, among them 1959’s “Waterloo,” which uses Napoleon’s defeat as an allegory for falling in love, and 1966’s “The Minutemen (Are Turning in Their Graves),” which draws a contrast between the American Revolution and the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s.

He hasn’t recorded a new album since the late 1970s, but he has continued to perform on the Grand Ole Opry. Why he hasn’t been inducted yet is anybody’s guess. Maybe it’s because the lawsuit he filed against the Opry in 2008 for age discrimination turned some powerful Nashvillians against him. Maybe it’s because the Hall of Fame knows that late night TV shows and The Onion will have a field day if it inducts an artist whose name conjures such strong images of the Confederate south. Whatever the hold-up is, I just hope the Hall gets over it while the guy’s still alive to enjoy it. The pictures of him attending other people’s induction ceremonies are heartbreaking.

4. Wanda Jackson

I fell in love with Wanda Jackson last year, when I caught her performing a live show at the Continental Club. Even at age 77, she was a ball of fire, shrieking like a sex-starved inmate during “Riot in Cell Block #9,” yodeling her way through “I Betcha My Heart I Love You,” and turning the heat up on Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has rightfully recognized her contributions to rock music, but really, rock was a short detour for Jackson, who started her career singing country music and returned to country music when the rockabilly moment passed. In the 60s, she racked up an enviable number of Top 40 country hits, including “The Box It Came In” (1966) and “My Big Iron Skillet” (1969), which warned no-good husbands that their wives might do them in if they didn’t clean up their acts. As a sign of her versatility, Jackson has also recorded albums in German and Japanese.

5. Hank Williams, Jr.

Hank, Jr., has sold 70 million albums over the course of a career that began in in 1964 and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. With eleven #1 songs (and more than 30 others that reached the Top 10), he is, as my country blog-hero Trigger puts it, “the most decorated artist to not be in the Hall of Fame who has been eligible for an extended period.” I don’t care for the guy’s politics, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s a major and positive influence on country music, or that the Hall hasn’t taken too long getting ’round to recognizing him. Make it a “Family Tradition,” y’all.

CMHOF-LogoWith the 2015 induction complete, the Country Music Hall of Fame can turn its attention to selecting the next three members to join its exclusive ranks. This country fan can only hope that when the new class is announced early next year that one of these five deserving names will finally be called.

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Filed under Awards, Class work, Hall of Fame, News, Women

Our ‘Buzzfeed’ Articles All in One Place

Before we turn our attention to writing new papers, let’s take a minute to celebrate the old ones. Here is a comprehensive list of the Buzzfeed-style articles that everyone wrote. Take a look, leave some comments, share your favorites with your followers on Facebook and Twitter, etc.

chesneyCrossing Lines

nataliemainesLiving & Learning

underwoodLoving & Leaving

Garth Brooks's wings

Raising Awareness & Showing Support

paisleyLooking Forward & Back

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Filed under Buzzfeed article, Class work, Lists, Politics

The Country in Fort Worth

As told from Urban Dictionary, “Fort Worth is the craziest dopest place in Texas”. From a different perspective, Urban Dictionary also says, “Save yourself some time and just move to Dallas.” Twenty years ago, I was born in Fort Worth, Texas and with every passing year, the love for my city grew. The people I familiarized myself with, including my family, friends, peers, etc., all felt the same way. When people ask where I am from, I simply say I am a Fort Worthian, or I originate from the Worthiest of Forts. Living in this great city for my entire life has led me to build a permanent and meaningful community. Those who are Fort Worth bred are proud and share a unanimous collective effervescence. This mutual feeling was accumulated most prominently in schools, where kids would share their ideas and family customs. The Fort Worth public school I attended allowed us to listen to our iPods during recess, and some teachers let us listen to them during class or passing periods. Music is one of the things that enabled me to bond with my fellow classmates. A wide array of genres was also blasted at McLean Middle School. One of the more prominent types of music blared was country music. Growing up in Fort Worth has inadvertently exposed me to the world of country music. Texas is teeming with country music, whether you think it or not. Living in Fort Worth supported the introduction to this type of music. One event that endorsed country music was the Fort Worth Stock Show. At the end of every January and beginning of every February, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo comes to life. The promotion of livestock, horse and bull riding, petting zoos, roller coasters, and country music all coincide into a dollop of fun. This is just one of the factors that constructed my outlook on country music. When high school rolled around, more and more of my friends started going to country concerts at Lone Star. Mardi Gras Texas Style was the one country concert that every kid from Fort Worth and Dallas attended. Bands such as Randy Rogers Band, Turnpike Troubadours, Cody Johnson Band, and more, play their music. Being involved in the Fort Worth community really and truly helped formulate my outlook and perspective on country music. A song that everyone loved in middle school and high school, probably even today, is Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band. This song was huge in Fort Worth. Radio stations including 99.5, 95.9, and 96.7 all repeatedly played this at the same time, almost as though they planned it. Listening to Zac Brown automatically lifted any dark clouds and always put my friends and me in a good mood.


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 1, Class work, Texas

Country Music: California’s Forbidden Fruit

Where I grew up in southern California, country music is like a forbidden fruit. If you think about it, talk about it, or listen to it (God forbid), you’re inevitably evil. No one in their right mind would find country music pleasant to listen to. If you ask your average civilian from my hometown what their favorite type of music is, it would likely go something like this: “Uhm I’m in to rap, hip hop, indie…I mean I love a little bit of everything…oh, except country, of course”.

Of course.

Similarly, my dad always jokes that if it isn’t about trucks, beer, breaking up with girls, or your dog dying, “it ain’t country”. This is a reasonable observation, but it hurts my heart a little nonetheless.

Despite the lack of country music enthusiasts within the area I grew up, I can’t complain about much else. Surrounded by palm tress, in-n-out, and the beach, I feel very fortunate to consider myself a part of the southern California community. But living here for 18+ years has definitely had an impact on the way I view this genre of music.

For example, it’s considered common courtesy to ask the passengers in your car if they like country music before tuning your radio to the one country station that’s available. I cut people a little slack though, because up until the summer before my junior year of high school, I was the same way. The genre had no appeal to me whatsoever and I just didn’t like the way it sounded. It took stumbling on the playlist “Country Favorites” on 8tracks to get me hooked.

The playlist features artists such as Luke Bryan, Chris Cagle, and Gary Allen. I found every song to be incredibly catchy and evoke this positive feeling of nostalgia that I had never experienced with other types of music. The collection of songs touched on everything I dreamt of about the perfect summer: having a boy fall hopelessly in love with me, driving down a long road and singing at the top of my lungs, staying up and watching the stars, making memories with lifelong friends, and whatever else I thought was cool when I was 16.

Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” was the epitome of this summer dream I had. He discusses the feeling of invincibility that many experience when they’re a teenager. Many young people long to “never grow up” and feel as if “[they’re] comin’ alive” as Owen sings.

It’s possible that the negative connotation southern Californians generally associate with country music is due to the fact that the genre tends to be associated with Southern culture. They may assume it doesn’t relate to their own lifestyle or beliefs. However, many of the ideas surrounding growing up, feeling on top of the world, and falling in love are universal, and therefore completely compatible with the lifestyle of a typical southern Californian.

tumblr_nfneiv8TdB1rcrcdeo1_1280In the next few years, I am hopeful that more country artists will begin sprouting up from the west coast, and more people will start to love the genre as much as I do. And maybe, just maybe, Jake Owen will eventually change his lyrics to “a southern California summer, barefoot blue jean night”.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Class work, New Country