Category Archives: Women

My Country Music Experiences

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

Many people have asked me what it’s like to be in this class and what we do. Well, I can honestly say I have learned more about the history of country music and artists in the country world than I could ever imagine. This class has taught me to expand my horizons and given me an insight on new experiences, which I’m about to list.

IMG_02091. I went two-stepping for the first time

I can honestly say I never would have though my first two-stepping experience would have been in Austin, Texas, but I’m so glad it was. I had no idea that going country dancing was a pretty popular thing for UT student to do. It was a very nice break from the usual sixth street adventures for a couple of reasons. Most of the men there were gentlemen who knew how to really twirl me around the dance floor, and I was able to learn new dances to songs I’d never heard before. It was definitely a memorable experience

2. Watching the 2015 CMA’s

This one stuck out a lot to me. I’m going to focus my attention on Miranda Lambe.rt because not only did she do an amazing job performing, but she also won Female Vocalist of the Year. I think I want to focus on this because Miranda went up there and performed like the badass she is with her pink tinted hair and accepted her award in a “Chris Stapleton” t-shirt. Miranda has influenced my outlook on country music a lot because she is such a strong female role in country music. Even with the recent divorce from Blake Shelton, she still gets up there and shows everyone what she is about and I think that is amazing.

3. Reading Texas Music Magazine

Actually, a big article that stuck out to me was “When Dallas Rocked”, which is all about how Austin is overstating that it is the “Live Music Capital of the World”. This article is all about a film that explains that Dallas use to be the place to be for music back in the day. I thought this was super interesting because I’m not from Dallas and I don’t go there often, so I never thought of it as being a big music scene. Then again, I think I am bias to Austin because I have experienced the live music here. This article did make me think of country music on a bigger level and how it’s a big deal for some places to have the claim of where things began. It gives me another perspective of how important music is.

Whether it’s two-stepping or reading articles, I never knew I could gain so much knowledge from this class. I’m so happy I decided to be a part of this adventure and I thoroughly enjoy teaching my family what I have learned about country music and the important roles it plays in our history. These experiences have taught me a lot and were a lot of fun, I can’t wait to continue my understanding of country music in the future. I started this semester with little to no true background information on country music, and I can honestly say I feel like I have learned a lot. I have a different outlook on certain songs and catch myself analyzing what they mean and picking out the instruments I hear in the background. I’ve also made it a habit that if I hear of an artist I’m not familiar with, I will immediately look them up and listen to their music. I think country music and these experiences have most importantly taught me to be open minded and aware of the music around me.

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Filed under Austin, Blog Post 5, Dallas, Live Music, Texas, Women

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

What I Grew Up To

Imagine every time you got into the car to go to a basketball practice, church or just out to dinner you knew exactly what to expect. Well, for my siblings and me, we did know what to expect. My dad would always play 3 country artists. I grew up in a small town in Maumelle, Arkansas and I can honestly say listening to these three country artists almost every day truly shaped sweet memories of my childhood.

  1. Garth Brooks

I know what you’re probably thinking… “Of course, who didn’t listen to him?”, but you’re right! To me, listening to Garth Brooks is a classic memory. Now, my dad and I tended to be a bit theatrical at times, so when it was just him and I in the car on the way to some event, we would always play “When the Thunder Rolls”. What a better song to play when you’re planning on acting and being all dramatic, right? I mean, really, who can’t resist to belt out and dance during the thunder parts of the song. The next most played Garth Brooks song was, of course, “The Dance”. My dad knew this one a lot better than I did, but I enjoyed it just as much.

  1. Dixie Chicks

Here we go, another wave of childhood memories come flooding back anytime I hear ANY of the Dixie Chicks songs. “Good Bye Earl” is still my jam until this day. While at the time, I only thought of it as a fun, upbeat song, I still bolt it out today knowing it is about domestic abuse. I think it’s a song that catches people’s attention and brings awareness to a serious issue. “Ready to Run” also deserves a huge honorable mention because my sisters and I use to act out that song all the time. While these are two of my favorites, every Dixie Chicks song that comes to mind has a unique place in my heart.

  1. Shania Twain

I saved good ole Shania for last because it’s a personal favorite. Her songs bring back probably the sweetest memories I have. Mainly because my dad belted out her songs louder than anyone, and if you knew my dad, you’d know why this was such a funny and entertaining site for me. “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “Man! I Feel like a Woman” are easily my top two favorite songs by her. I mean, come on, can you imagine your father singing “let’s go girls” at the beginning of the song “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and that not bringing a smile to your face? I didn’t think so.

63403_1612221839461_1793417_nNo matter what I tell people about my childhood from Arkansas, no story is told without mention of at least one of these country singers. That is how I know country music has touched my life and I have grown a genuine sentimental value from listening to it.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, Dancing, Garth Brooks, Reflection, Women

What Happened To The Wreckers??

the wreckersEverybody has that one album on their iPhone that transforms the “Shuffle All” button into something more like a shot of social cyanide when they’re handed the aux cord. For some people it’s Hannah Montana or Demi Lovato, but for me its Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp’s one and only album: Stand Still, Look Pretty.

The Wreckers had a short run, with very little success, but when I heard “Leave the Pieces” on the radio in February of 2006 it put me on the edge of my seat; my 12 year old self was so convinced she could relate.  The Wreckers were like, my Dixie Chicks for over a year, and when I listen to them now I still enjoy the hell out of it, I can listen to all 12 songs without being annoyed, even if deep down I know I couldn’t do that with any similar artists. They DID win a Grammy in 2006, so their music wasn’t all shame inducing. If you haven’t heard any of their music, or if you’ve only heard “Leave the pieces” and “My oh my” I strongly suggest checking out some of the other songs on that album- they’ve got some great lyrics.

They’re country-pop to the core, but strong female duos in this genre are few and far between, and I think they made a great run out of it, even if it was short and sweet. The 1950’s had The Davis Sisters, the 80’s had The Judds, the millennials have Maddie & Tae, and I had The Wreckers in 2006.

When the duo broke up in 2007 I was devastated, and I’m still secretly holding my breath waiting for them to make a comeback, as pathetic as that may be- I think because of their premature termination they get overlooked a lot- and even if I wouldn’t bump them in my buddy’s jeep on the way to 6th, I think they deserve more credit than people realize. It was definitely a poor career move on their part to split up in favor of pursuing their own solo music careers, because they’ve yet to release anything even remotely noteworthy since their split, I can’t imagine why they’d decide to split after such impressive feedback… Michelle Branch collects eggs from chickens in her backyard and Jessica’s current situation isn’t discernible, maybe she’s in “Tennessee” with the one that got away.

I hope this post leads you to rediscover (or maybe just discover) The Wreckers and their brief country music career.

“‘Cause I can guarantee / Things are sweeter in Tennessee”


Filed under Country Pop, Women

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