Submitted by Isaac Weeks — Correspondent
Kacey Musgraves is the classic case of the overnight sensation who actually took awhile to become successful. Performing in bars and honky-tonks for several years in support of albums that she self-published, the 25-year-old musician was discovered by a trio of country musicians who continue to help her today: country superstars Lady Antebellum.
I was just getting to know them personally, and they took me under their wing, Musgraves recalls. It was just kind of a new kid on the block type of deal, you know? They took me overseas to play a bunch of shows with them in 2012, and we really became friends across the pond. Pretty soon after that tour ended, they asked me to open up for them on this one.
This one being the current Lady Antebellum Take Me Downtown Tour coming Friday night to Walnut Creek in Raleigh. Musgraves will open the show, which may take many in the audience by surprise, considering the singer-songwriters recent meteoric rise in country music.
Hitting it big
Since signing her first major record label deal with Mercury Nashville in 2013, Musgraves has become the latest female performer to take the industry by storm. With the release of her hit album Same Trailer Different Park, she soon found herself not only being mentioned in the same sentence as such powerhouses as Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert, but she found herself in competition with them at awards shows.
Perhaps the most stunning example of Musgraves rise to fame was being nominated twice at the 2014 Grammy Awards for Best Country Song, with her Merry Go Round winning.
I was just completely in shock and completely flattered, she says. It is the highest compliment you can get from such a prestigious organization.
There are a lot of songs out there, many of which never get any radio play. There are thousands and thousands of songwriters that, if theyre lucky, maybe one of their songs may be heard by an audience. I cant even describe the feeling that comes with the Grammys highlighting one of my songs as one of the best songs of the year, when there are so many good songs out there, and how hard it is for any of them to be honored.
The musician has made a name for herself in a short time by showing that shes not afraid to ruffle the feathers of some of her more conservative contemporaries. She has found herself under the microscope of country music radio and television for her hit song Follow Your Arrow, with its frank lyrical discussion of sexuality and drug use. This led to Musgraves being presented an ultimatum at last years Country Music Association awards show.
Yeah, I was told either the song would be censored or I could change the lyrics, the singer recalls. I didnt think the latter was really an option, especially when Im singing about following your own arrow. Im sure they viewed it as a small sacrifice for me to get the song heard on television, but it really backfired on them, because it made people search out the unedited version even more.
Musgraves says that she is still amazed at how open audiences have been with the issues that the song brings up.
The reception has been incredible! That songs popularity has done more for my career than any other song Ive written yet, she says. Its been so cool to see it changing peoples lives, opening so many minds, and Im just a small part of the way that the world is moving.
Musgraves believes part of the issue may be that the world is moving quicker than those in charge of the country genre would believe.
Theres nothing controversial about the song to my ears, she says. I feel as if I am doing my job as a songwriter, writing about things that have had a major impact on my life and all around me as well.
Strong country women
Musgraves also takes her position as a female artist seriously, recognizing that things are changing for women in country music.
There for a while, it seemed that male country singers had a little more substance to their music than the females, who were counted on to have big voices and pretty faces, she says. Now it seems that country music has pulled a 180 on itself, where the women are singing intelligent, gritty lyrics, and their songwriting voices are just as strong as their singing voices.
With the critical and commercial success that Musgraves has found over the past year, she realizes that her time as the opening performer at concerts is coming to a close. She hopes she can help a new performer in the same way her friends in Lady Antebellum have helped with her career.
So many people have been so great to me starting out, she says. Ill always pay it forward in any way I can.