Category Archives: Movies and TV

Fitting Country into College

Editor’s note: This is an example of Blog Post #5.

There’s not much free time when it comes to your sophomore year of college, sometimes it seems like your professors are piling on the work just for the fun of it. But I somehow managed to fit in a few country themed events this semester. So without further ado, in no particular order, are my top three fun country themed events from the first semester of my sophomore year of college.

  1. IMG_9315Brad Paisley Concert (and it was for free!)
    Apparently one of the perks of going to the best University’s in the world is getting to see one of your favorite country stars for FREE. The weather wasn’t the best, in fact it was pretty gross, with 10 inch thick humid air hitting me like a brick, but somehow I still had fun. The best part by far was watching Brad Paisley perform and seeing the UT Tower in the background. It definitely made me realize how great this school is and how much I love the influence country music has on this state.
  1. On Wednesdays, we watch Nashville
    Two words: Rayna James. And five more: I wish I was her. This show is ADDICTING y’all. The producers have managed to keep almost all of the scenarios relatable and realistic, but yet it’s about a country music superstar and the other superstars that surround her? Props to them. The star power of Rayna, Luke Wheeler, Juliet Barnes, and all of the other fictional country music singers on the show are counterbalanced by the raw talent of Rayna’s daughters, Daphne and Maddie. Between their sound and the musical styling’s of Deacon Claiborne, these characters keep the show grounded and bring country music back to its roots. It’s great to hear pop country sounds mixed in with the sweet sound of just a voice and guitar.
  1.  Surprise! I went two- stepping.
    This actually isn’t very surprising since this is Texas, but still fun nonetheless. When someone suggests going two-stepping, I’m always immediately on board. This isn’t to say I’m good at it. In fact, I spent most of the night tripping over myself and elbowing a lot of people in the face, but it was so worth it. Honestly, “dancing” around in circles and laughing at how ridiculous I looked compared to the country-dancing veterans was one of the most entertaining things I did all semester.

10641040_777644538959654_1514473168129487529_nSo there you have it, proof that I did leave my room/library this semester. And to say it was worth it would be an understatement. I learned a lot too, that country music isn’t just Luke Bryan shaking his butt in a huge arena- it has roots dating back further than I even imagined. It’s grown and evolved and gradually transformed into the music I hear today. Luckily, all three of the things listed above helped further that understanding. I saw today’s country with Brad, got a mix of it with Nashville, and danced to all kinds of music in a way that generations of country music lovers have done before me. What could be better?


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5, Concert, Country Pop, Dancing, Lists, Live Music, Movies and TV, Reflection, Texas

The Low Down on Justin Timberlake

jt cmas

JT and New Artist of the Year Chris Stapleton break it down at the 2015 CMAs.

Ex-boy bander Justin Timberlake performed at this year’s CMAs and can now be heard on some country music radio stations. As a listener of all genres of music I think that this could actually be an interesting and achievable endeavor for Justin; however, I know that many of you (with little knowledge of JT) might be nervous about this. Never fear, your resident JT expert is here to save the day and fill you in on what you’ve missed throughout his career. Here is the low down on the “soul of Memphis” as Brad Paisley would say.


Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Justin was raised a southern boy with a very distinct southern voice. The world was first introduced to Justin’s talent when he got a spot alongside, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and other star kids on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1993. On MMC, Justin got immense amounts of training in singing, dancing and acting (all of which he could already do very well). In 1995, Justin would go on to leave MMC at the age of 14 and later that year form superstar boy band *NSYNC.

***Side note: My favorite part of Justin’s career started this year (also happens to be the year I was born). And in just 3 years, I would be able to mutter the words “I love Justin” while I was toddler dancing around watching him and the rest of the boys on my parents TV (back when MTV played music videos 24/7). ***


LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 1999: *NSYNC, (clockwise L) Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass and Justin Timberlake sit for a portrait in Los Angeles 1999. (Photo by Bob Berg/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Chris Kirkpatrick;Justin Timberlake;Joey Fatone;Lance Bass JC Chasez

*NSYNC: Justin with the curly platinum-blond hair on the right, then Lance, Joey, JC and Chris on the left.

*NSYNC: the boy band to end all boy bands. Justin, Joey, JC, Lance and Chris took on the world from ’95 to ’02. Although Justin had previously been on a TV show, which he gained recognition from, he was thrust into the spotlight when he became the non-official lead singer of this group of talented guys. *NSYNC really created a name for Justin in the pop music scene. The Grammy-nominated group reigned victorious in pop music while attracting screaming girls from all over the world.


In 2002 hearts broke everywhere at the dismemberment of *NSYNC; however, Justin quickly arose from the ashes of boy-bands-who-were and started producing solo albums and acting in major Hollywood films. He has won more awards as a solo artist, including nine Grammy’s, than with his boy band. As his emergence as a solo artist prevailed, he proved that he was not only a pop artist but also could pull some R&B and soulful vibes, as well. This southern boy has proved himself in more areas than many hopeful singers and actors can think of in a lifetime.

jt and brit

The early 2000s power couple, Britney and Justin. (And look at that cowboy hat… Ready for country music, am I right?)


Justin is a man of few flaws (in my eyes) which comes from his pretty squeaky clean image. His portrayal in the media from his *NSYNC days was the cute, blond, curly headed boy dating Britney Spears and making girls cry as he walked by. He was perfect. Today his image remains the same. His very public friendship with Jimmy Fallon makes him funny, his recent marriage to Jessica Biel makes him desirable but unattainable and his overall career in music, movies and TV makes him well rounded and an admirable celebrity.


During the 2015 CMAs, Justin took the stage with New Artist of the Year winner Chris Stapleton to take on Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and later his own “Drink You Away” (a very country sounding song, if you ask me). Well, you don’t have to ask me because apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. The CMA audience liked Justin’s performance so much that “Drink You Away,” a song released in 2013 shot up on the iTunes charts and is now getting airtime on country radio.

So what’s to come of Justin Timberlake in country music? No one can be sure but from what we know of him and his career and his sound, we can be sure that it won’t suck. Nope, not one bit. I think this southern Tennessee boy has covered everything except country, so honestly it’s time.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 4, Live Music, Movies and TV

From acting to country singer?

Most musical artists that actually have successful careers in the music industry focus solely on music and nothing else. This can be especially proven true for country artists due to not many artists being involved in other career jobs. Artists might find another similar job such as vocals coaches, backup roles in songs, or maybe judges for singing shows such as American Idol, but these other jobs almost all relate to the music industry.

h9EiF8ggJana Kramer finds herself separated in the category of starting in the career of acting and making herself relevant in the country music industry later on her life. Kramer started off in 2002 acting and appearing in small roles in hit TV shows such as All My Children, Grey’s Anatomy, and CSI:NY. One of her first big breaks was when she earned a recurring role in the show Friday Night lights which was a big hit on NBC. While she earned gigs in a lot of big shows, most being small roles in only a few episodes, her biggest breakthrough in acting was when she earned a larger role in the show One Tree Hill on the channel CW.

Not only did this role in One Tree Hill bring her into the spotlight in the acting industry, it brought her into the spotlight for her singing career. As the character Alex Dupree, she was initially introduced to be a model for another characters fashion line but as the show progressed, Alex Dupree started pursuing a musical career. Kramer appeared in season 7 in the second episode and her last episode was the seance episode in season 9. She left the show to pursue her musical career which sprouted directly from this show.

81XpdZ2Tz8L._SL1425_One of her first big songs was first premiered on One Tree Hill in February of 2011, which was named “I Won’t Give Up” and hit number 75 on the Billboards hot 100 chart. This was the beginning of her musical career which was catapulted by the tv drama.

Another song of hers, which is my favorite, is “Whiskey.” I heard about it from a friend who was a huge fan of the TV show, One Tree Hill, and I was in the car with her driving to get lunch one day and she played it and it instantly became one of my favorite songs (even though it is a girly song.) The melody and lyrics are so simple and catchy, I found myself wanting to listen to it over and over again. This was another song she premiered on One Tree Hill but it was later in April of  2011.

Jana Kramer’s musical career has taken off since she started her gig on One Tree Hill. Her first album was released in 2012 and was called “Jana Kramer.” Her next album was released on October 9th, of this year. While she isn’t a household country name yet, she has been gaining popularity and I think she’ll be a big name one day.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Movies and TV, Music Videos

Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash

reese1Growing up listening to country favorite, Johnny Cash, my family eagerly awaited the release of the movie based on his life and career, Walk the Line, in 2005, two years after Cash’s death. The movie portrayed Cash’s struggles and his constantly teetering career beautifully. The cast of the movie performed each part with stunning similarity to the assumed characteristics of the real life stars. My favorite part in the movie, however, was Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash.

Reese Witherspoon has always been a great role model and southern sweetheart to all her fans. She has had plenty of roles in movies that strengthen fans’ love for her. She stepped up to the next level when she performed as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. Not only did she perform the character of June with magnificence, but she also learned to sing for the part, stunning fans and critics everywhere. Who knew Reese had such an amazing voice for singing?

It wasn’t something she learned overnight, however. According to an article from “Taste of Country,” Reese, and Joaquin Phoenix alike, went through vigorous vocal training from famed music producer, T-bone Burnett. An article from IMBD stated also that Reese really did learn to play the instruments she uses in the movie and sang for the movie without being dubbed like actors are in most singing scenes. Speaking to MTV in 2004, before the movie was released, Reese spoke of her role in the film. “It’s been so hard; it’s been really, really one of the hardest movies I’ve ever had to make. I had to do four months of rehearsals. I had to learn to play autoharp. I had to take singing lessons. I had to record an album, which was the most challenging, horrifying experience of my life. Me singing in front of people while they’re listening to me is just horrifying. And it gets exponentially horrifying when extras show up and have to watch you and you have to pretend you’re at a concert and singing and they like it.”

Reese never did get to meet June Carter Cash, as she died before production of the movie began. Witherspoon did, however, get to listen to a pre-recorded interview with June and speak to her children in order to learn more about the woman she was to portray. She also got to research June’s closet for inspiration before shooting for the film began. In the same interview with MTV about the movie, Reese said, “I met with the family, I met with her children. I talked to them. I visited her house, got to walk through her closet and stuff. I know that sounds strange, but just to see her things and see all her musical instruments and see where she lived and spent a lot of her time, a lot of that kind of stuff has been really helpful. Friends of the family have been on set and I’ve had a lot of time to sort of absorb that side of it.”

Witherspoon certainly wooed the crowds with her portrayal as June. She won an Oscar for best performing actress in 2006 for her role in Walk the Line. She stayed humble, as always in her career. I still, to this day, will have a mood that leads me to open up the soundtrack to Walk the Line on my phone and begin playing Witherspoon’s covers of June. I have a deep respect for June Carter Cash and her music, but something about the way Reese Witherspoon performed June’s songs brought new life to the lyrics and tunes played. Reese, you’re a truly talented woman.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 3, Movies and TV, Women

Bringing Back The Country In Miley Cyrus

Through the pits and peaks, highs and lows, and ups and downs, it is still evident that Miley Cyrus is musically talented. Starting her career at an early age, Cyrus has always been exposed to the music industry. People now recognize her as a trouble making, rule breaking, pop culture artist who always has her tongue sticking out. However, what some people may have forgotten is that somewhere deep within Cyrus’s heart lie her innate country roots.

miley!!!!@@!!Having Billy Ray Cyrus as a gene donor, Miley Cyrus was born with country in her blood. Many may not see it now, especially since Miley has done a 180 on her appearance both musically and physically, but Cyrus once was young country phenomenon.


Cyrus was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, otherwise known as the home of country music. She grew up on a family farm and lived a country life. Cyrus quickly adopted the love of country music by constantly being surrounded by country music icons, such as her own father, Billy Ray Cyrus, and her godmother, Dolly Parton.

For 5 years, Miley Cyrus devoted her time to having a hidden identity, known as the pop-singer Hannah Montana. Cyrus and her secret identity had a comedy sitcom on Disney Channel, Hannah Montana, which augmented Cyrus’ fame and fan base. Within the show, Cyrus oscillated between the characters of Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana and also between music genres of country and pop.

miley-cyrus-billy-ray-cyrus-dolly-parton-25-years-of-dollywood-jolene-duetIncluded in the show was Billy Ray Cyrus, who coincidentally played the role of her father. Sporadic musical performances by him and country guest appearance Dolly Parton, who also coincidentally played Miley’s godmother, demonstrated the importance of country music to the Cyrus family. It also spread the love of country music to the Disney Channel viewers.

Towards the end of the Hannah Montana series, the “Hannah Montana Movie” was released. Within the movie were country songs that became an instant hit. “Hoedown Throwdown” had kids and teenagers raving about and dancing along to the fast-pace, country banjo beat. On the other hand, “Butterfly Fly Away”, a duet by Miley and Billy Ray, had a slow guitar tone, sounding like a lullaby, that shined a light on the special relationship of a father and daughter, which is a common theme sung about in country music today. Although this duet was popular among the country crowd, their other father-daughter collaboration, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” made it on the country charts and was nominated for CMT Music Award during the CMT Music Awards in 2008!

As years passed, Cyrus outgrew her Hannah Montana phase and wandered away from her country past. She chopped her hair and started living a life that her fans, and parents of fans, did not condone. Although this drastic change had led people to lose faith in her, Cyrus continues to prove them wrong by recording covers of songs by country legends. Cyrus’ cover of “Jolene” and her country-modified version of, “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”, originally sung by Dolly Parton and Bob Dylan respectively, dropped several jaws. Cyrus continues to cover songs and put a country twist on them, alluring her past country fans and keeping them on their toes. Could this possibly foreshadow the direction of all of her musical productions?

Many think that Miley Cyrus’ pop culture music and lifestyle are just a phase and that soon she will snap out of this funk. Judging by the sounds of her current recordings and knowledge of history repeating itself, it may be destiny that Miley disposes of these habits and reverts to her original country ways.3977141851_378b02e767


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, Movies and TV