meta-scriptMiranda Lambert Wins Best Country Album For ‘Wildcard’ | 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show | GRAMMY.com
Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert

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Miranda Lambert Wins Best Country Album For ‘Wildcard’ | 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

Miranda Lambert, a country powerhouse throughout the 2000s and 2010s, won Best Country Album for ‘Wildcard’ at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show

GRAMMYs/Mar 15, 2021 - 05:25 am

Miranda Lambert won Best Country Album for her 2020 album Wildcard at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards. This win marks the country singer’s first win of the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show and second altogether.

Her album bested fellow nominees Ingrid Andress, Brandy Clark, Little Big Town and Ashley McBryde.

Stay tuned to GRAMMY.com for all things GRAMMY Awards (including the Premiere Ceremony livestream), and make sure to watch the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, airing live on CBS and Paramount+ tonight, Sun., March 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

Check out all the complete 2021 GRAMMY Awards show winners and nominees list here.

 

Tanner Adell
Tanner Adell attends the 2024 CMA Awards.

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT

list

12 Must-See Acts At Stagecoach 2024: Tanner Adell, Charley Crockett & More

Before the country music festival returns to the California desert April 26-28, get to know some of the most buzzworthy artists set to take this year's Stagecoach Festival by storm.

GRAMMYs/Apr 23, 2024 - 11:28 pm

In a matter of days, some of country music's best and most promising acts will come together in Indio, California for Stagecoach Festival 2024. The annual event has spotlighted an eclectic mix of talent since 2007, but this year's impressive roster of performers helped Stagecoach earn its largest number of ticket sales in the festival's 17-year history.

Held April 28-30 at the Empire Polo Club — the same scenic desert landscape as the long-running Coachella Music and Arts Festival — this year's Stagecoach Festival offers a diverse blend of artists that spans from headliners like Miranda Lambert and Eric Church to surf-pop icons the Beach Boys, hit rockers Nickelback and hip-hop star Post Malone

Along with this diverse roster of superstars, the 2024 Stagecoach lineup is filled with a captivating list of artists on the rise. From a singer/songwriter enjoying a much-deserved comeback to a skillful 25-year-old putting his own spin on the '90s country sound, this year's crop of talent is paving the way for the future of country music.

Stagecoach Festival 2024 is completely sold out, but country fans who didn't snag their ticket in time can still enjoy all the festivities by streaming performances live via Amazon Prime all weekend long. Before you head out into the California sun or get cozy in front of your TV, take a moment to learn more about these 12 must-see acts coming to Stagecoach this year.

Tanner Adell

Since the release of Beyoncé's country-inspired album COWBOY CARTER, singer/songwriter Tanner Adell has become one of the genre's most talked about new artists. Before she was tapped as a guest vocalist on Beyoncé's cover of the Beatles' classic "Blackbird," and original track "AMERIICAN REQUIEM," Adell had already garnered a dedicated fan base online. 

Thanks to viral hits like "Buckle Bunny," the playful title track of her 2023 debut album, the Nashville-based talent has earned praise from both critics and country listeners worldwide. From heartfelt ballads to beat-driven bops made to get you on the dance floor, Adell blends elements of radio-ready modern country and rhythmic hip-hop with ease.

Adell's Saturday performance at Stagecoach promises to be a fiery and fun showcase of her polished pop-country songbook.

Zach Top

While growing up in Washington state, Zach Top forged a deep connection to the sound of traditional country music. From Marty Robbins to Keith Whitley, the influence of the genre's past is deeply entwined in every track of the talented 25-year-old's brand new record, Cold Beer & Country Music

Top's 12-track LP has earned plenty of buzz for its new take on the neo-traditionalist style that dominated country radio in the late 1980s and early '90s. With engaging vocals reminiscent of the late Daryle Singletary and thoughtful lyricism, Zach Top provides a fresh new take on a familiar and formative sound.

Brittney Spencer

Over the past five years, Brittney Spencer has repeatedly proven why she's one of the most important and captivating voices within modern country music. From her acclaimed 2021 single "Sober & Skinny'' to her celebrated collaboration with country supergroup The Highwomen, Spencer's vocals are consistently as emotive as they are effortless.

Spencer's charismatic personality and boundless energy take center stage through every performance, making her live shows a can't-miss event. Her Sunday afternoon set at Stagecoach offers a chance to hear cuts from her stellar debut album, My Stupid Life, which dropped in January.

Vincent Neil Emerson

Texas native Vincent Neil Emerson first earned widespread praise with the 2019 release of his debut album, Fried Chicken and Evil Women, earning him comparisons to influential artists like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. His narrative-driven lyrics and hauntingly raw vocals have won the hearts of country fans far outside the Texas plains.

Over the years, he's collaborated with fellow alt-country favorite Colter Wall and recruited the creative genius of Rodney Crowell, who serves as producer on Emerson's self-titled 2021 LP. With his most recent album, the Shooter Jennings-produced The Golden Crystal Kingdom, Emerson once again channels the old-school magic of the traditional country that only comes from a rare type of Texas troubadour.

Katie Pruitt

Although Katie Pruitt has been locally lauded as among the best of Nashville's modern crop of singer/songwriters for years, her rise into the mainstream is still overdue. The Georgia native's stunning 2020 debut album, Expectations, was hailed for its raw honesty and effortless vocal intricacies. 

When she takes the stage during the final day of Stagecoach 2024, Pruitt will be armed with a brand new batch of awe-inspiring songs. Released on April 5, her sophomore album, Mantras, delivers an unpredictable, genre-bending sound that displays a sense of artistry far beyond her years. Don't miss your chance to see Pruitt's mesmerizing live set, which is guaranteed to have you dancing and maybe even wiping away a few tears.

Carin León

In just a few short years, beloved Mexican singer/songwriter Carin León has evolved from a regional hitmaker to an internationally known talent. His reflective and honest songs have connected with audiences globally, becoming one of Spotify's most streamed modern Mexican artists. 

Earlier this year, the two-time Latin GRAMMY-winner made his Grand Ole Opry debut, and will serve as the opening act for rock legends the Rolling Stones' Hackney Diamonds Tour when it heads to Glendale, Ariz. this May. (And just one week before his Stagecoach debut, he also made his Coachella debut.) Fans who catch his Friday set may be lucky enough to see a live rendition of "It Was Always You (Siempre Fuiste Tú)," his fresh collaboration with fellow Stagecoach 2024 artist Leon Bridges.

Trampled By Turtles 

Thanks to their unique blend of bluegrass, folk, country, and a dash of rock and roll, Minnesota-based outfit Trampled by Turtles has become a music festival staple — and will make their third Stagecoach appearance (and first in 10 years) on Saturday. Their high-energy live sets channel the psychedelic magic of rock's jam band scene, subbing plucky acoustic instrumentation in the place of rolling electric guitar.

The long-running band will treat fans to an array of tracks from their impressive career, which spans 10 albums, including their critically praised 2022 LP, Alpenglow. Even if you aren't already familiar with Trampled by Turtles' extensive list of releases, you're sure to be captivated by their hypnotizing performance style and positive energy that radiates from the live stage.

Charley Crockett

Texas-born talent Charley Crockett is one of few modern artists who have proven worthy enough for the coveted title of "troubadour." The seasoned singer/songwriter's appearance at Stagecoach will coincide with the release of $10 Cowboy, his soulful and synth-tinged 16th studio album.

Crockett's mix of traditional country and thoughtful folk, infused with gritty 1970s pop, creates a nostalgic charm that captivates the live stage. His descriptive story songs and distinctive twang echo the genre's early greats while expanding those classic country themes into new and surprising sonic territory. His Stagecoach 2024 set is sure to deliver a blend of fresh album cuts along with fan favorites from his already-expansive catalog.

Lola Kirke

You may know Lola Kirke as an accomplished actress in both television and film, but the British talent is also one of country music's most surprising new artists. Her stylized mix of traditional country and edgy pop-rock is refreshingly fun and tailor-made for Stagecoach's good-time vibe. 

In recent months, Kirke has shared a string of infectious singles leading up to the release of her latest EP, Country Curious. In March, she dropped a stellar take on the Paula Cole classic "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?" featuring Stagecoach 2023 alumni Kaitlin Butts. Make sure you clean off your boots before Kirke's set, because there's a good chance she'll have a very special line dance lesson ready for the crowd.

Willie Jones

For nearly a decade, Louisiana-born talent Willie Jones has captivated country fans with fresh and genre-bending tracks, propelled by deep, rich vocals. Since first making waves with his rendition of Josh Turner's "Your Man" during an audition for "The X-Factor" in 2012, Jones has been paving his own path in the genre. 

He's recorded two full-length records, including his irresistible 2023 LP Something to Dance To. His Stagecoach set will certainly be a boot-stomper, offering concertgoers a chance to experience the magic captured on his latest EP, The Live Sessions, which arrived on April 5.

Sam Barber

Missouri native Sam Barber has evolved from a hopeful musician to a viral sensation with a major-label record deal. While passing the time at college, the gifted 20-year-old began recording covers of his favorite country tracks and shared them on TikTok, quickly garnering thousands of eager listeners. His down-to-earth charm, paired with surprisingly seasoned and gritty vocals, also earned the attention of Atlantic Records. 

In 2023, they shared Barber's debut EP, Million Eyes, which spawned the breakthrough radio single "Straight and Narrow." Now, fresh off the release of Live EP 001 and a string of new singles, Barber will bring his thoughtful yet edgy country sound to Stagecoach, marking another rapidfire career accomplishment.

Luke Grimes

Although you may know him best for his role as the chaotic charmer Kayce Dutton on the acclaimed television series "Yellowstone," Luke Grimes' creative talents expand far outside the small screen. A lifelong musician and lover of country music, Grimes took the stage at Stagecoach 2023 in support of his debut EP, Pain Pills or Pews. The project's raw and honest tracks earned critical acclaim and quickly led Grimes back into the studio, tapping Dave Cobb as producer for his vulnerable new self-titled LP, which arrived on March 8.

Whether you're a longtime fan of his acting or an already devoted listener, Grimes' set marks a pivotal moment in his ever-evolving musical career — and one of many can't-miss moments at this year's Stagecoach Festival.

Why 2024 Is The Year Women In Country Music Will Finally Have Their Moment

Tyler Hubbard Press Photo 2024
Tyler Hubbard

Photo: Jimmy Fontaine

interview

Inside Tyler Hubbard's New Album 'Strong': How He Perfectly Captured His "Really Sweet Season" Of Life

On the heels of Tyler Hubbard's latest album release, hear from the country star about the biggest influences for 'Strong' — from his "unique relationship" with his hometown to making Keith Urban jealous.

GRAMMYs/Apr 15, 2024 - 07:53 pm

Country fans first got to know Tyler Hubbard as the voice of Florida Georgia Line. Upon his solo debut in 2022, they got a deeper look into his life as a devoted family man. Now, the chart-topping singer/songwriter wants to show his skills as the genre's feel-good party starter.

Hubbard's second album, Strong, turns up the energy with 13 tracks that focus on spreading the joy he's feeling in his own life. There's several parallels to his self-titled debut, including another tribute to his late father on "'73 Beetle" and reflections on his small-town Georgia upbringing with "Take Me Back" and "Back Then Right Now." Yet, every narrative feels more celebratory — buoyed by Hubbard's purposeful delivery, his hopeful lyricism, and uptempo melodies.

It's a natural evolution for Hubbard, who has projected positivity in his music and his image since his FGL days. And now that the world has welcomed him as a solo act — including two No. 1s at country radio with "5 Foot 9" and "Dancin' in the Country," and several sold-out shows in 2023 — he felt it was only right to bring good vibes with his second LP. 

"I was carrying the momentum from last year — the first album, being out on tour, the energy from the fans," Hubbard shares. "If you come to my live show, it's a lot of happy, fun dancing energy, and that's what I've really enjoyed kind of leaning into right now."

Ahead of Strong's release, Hubbard sat down with GRAMMY.com to chat about his album process. Below, he breaks down the most important components, from writing nearly every song on his tour bus to happily riding in the "good time lane."

Building On The First Album

The first album was more of an introduction to who I am, and this album is more settling in. It's inspired by the live show more than anything, and the fans themselves, as opposed to me and my story. 

I kind of want [these songs]to feel like distant relatives to the first album. I'll use that analogy a lot of times in sessions and just say, "Let's elevate, and let's move forward and progress, but let's keep it in the same family." 

When I was writing both these projects, it was a tough time. You know, going through the pandemic and all that brought along, transitioning into different careers and not knowing what was gonna happen with FGL for a while. Obviously, my marriage really inspired the song "Strong," but there's sort of that principle [from album one to album two] of going through a hard season that you come out on the other side of it stronger. 

Writing On The Road

Last year, I was getting in front of my audience for the first time [post-pandemic] and really getting to see what they wanted, what was resonating, what was working, maybe what was missing in the set. So I was able to pull that energy from the fans right back to the bus. The majority of this album I wrote on the road last year, which is where I love to write songs. I love to write in town too, but [there's] something about being out on the road — you just feel a little extra creative and a little less distracted. 

Back in the day, when we were starting off and really roughing it, we didn't have anything else to do but our careers, so we'd come home from the road and we'd write three or four days a week, and then we would go hit the road and play shows. But now that I'm a husband and a father, I try to compartmentalize it, so when I'm home during the week, I can take some time off to be with the kiddos and my wife.

And fortunately, now, I have my own bus, so I can bring writers out, and we can just hunker down on my bus all weekend and write songs. It's pretty fun because you kind of feel like you're binge writing a bit. But once you get in that creative space and your wheels are turnin', it's nice to stay there for more than four or five hours like we do in Nashville, turning it off at 4 o'clock and going home. It keeps it fun.

Creating Music For The Stage

We were mainly thinking about the live show [when we were writing]. It just felt like [we were writing] songs I couldn't wait to play live. 

There's some heart, there's some depth, there's emotion and vulnerability in a lot of these songs that I like to play live, but overall, I want it to just feel fun. There's enough stuff in our world to make us sad, so I'm just like, if I can put music out that makes people feel good, that's what I want to do. 

Especially in the context of our genre and our culture — it feels like there's a lot of sad boy country going on right now. You know, nothing wrong with that, I like to get real and emo a bit. But I think if everybody's doing one thing, I try to lean to the other. And right now I love where we're headed, in the good time lane.

I was soaking up everything Keith [Urban] was doing [while touring with him last year]. I watched his set most nights. He's kind of the king of fun tempo live energy. [We were] either [trying to] make Keith jealous or make Keith want to record one of the songs we write. So some of these songs are probably inspired by trying to get a Keith Urban cut. 

"Park," "Wish You Would" and "Vegas" are [three] of those songs. They go really well live and have been really, really fun. The crowd starts moving in a weird way when ["Wish You Would"] comes on. It looks like they're just, like, lettin' loose and not really coordinated at anything. [Laughs.]

"Back Then Right Now" is the single, so people are knowing that one [more] and it's cool to see them singing it and engaged. "BNA" is gonna be a lot of fun to play live. I could probably play this whole album top to bottom and be pretty happy with that being the set.

Honoring Where He Came From

I wanted this album to still be dynamic — as uptempo as it is, I still wanted the fans to be let in a little bit more into who I am and deeper into my life. Hopefully with each project I put out, I have some songs that let people in a bit more and tap into a vulnerable place, and challenge me as a person and a writer to just continue to go there. 

I have a unique relationship with my hometown. I love where I came from, and I'm proud of where I'm from, but it's not somewhere that I'm still living — I've been in Nashville longer than I was in Georgia, I've been here for over 18 years. A lot's changed since then. The house I grew up in is not there, my dad's gone, my mom's moved to Alabama. 

It's an interesting dynamic, because in our genre, it's cool to be really proud of where you're from, and really pay homage to where you're from. And I still do — a lot of these songs are literally born because of where I came from. But at the same time, I don't have that same relationship with where I'm from. I just thought it was a little bit of a different approach on the relationship with the hometown with ["Take Me Back"]. I hope people can relate to it.

Recruiting Trusty Collaborators, Like Producer Jordan Schmidt

The collaborators and songwriters on this project, there's a couple of new ones, but there's a lot of guys that I have a big history with. A lot of that's just due to the fact that if I'm bringing writers out on the road, it's guys that I know and trust, and that I've had success with. I'm not speed dating on the road — it's just very intentional, efficient time.

They've proven themselves, and so there's no reason to not go back to 'em. I just can't reiterate enough how thankful I am to be in this city, in this songwriting community. I have so many people that make me a better songwriter and push me as an artist and come with great ideas. It makes it that much more fun to write songs and do what I love.

Also, to know me, and who I am, and where I'm headed, and what I want to do and say, that helps tremendously because we're not just shooting in the dark. I think "Wish You Would" is a song that's a little unique and feels really fun. If I was going to pick a direction, that's a cool, fresh sound that I'm really enjoying right now.

Leaning Into Feeling Good

I'm in a really sweet season. Not just with the work stuff, but my family is in such a good spot. My kids are 3, 4 and 6, so they're in a really fun, just joyful season. I can have a bad session or a tough day, and I can go home and get overwhelmed with joy and love in the house. It's just awesome energy. I'm really grateful for that, and I'm really kind of leaning into it. 

I hope [fans] understand how grateful I am to be here to be still doing this 13 years later, and to be able to have another opportunity to experience a lot of firsts again, and get to continue to connect with them. I just love what I do, and I gotta give the fans a lot of credit for allowing me to do it. 

8 Artists Bringing Traditional Country Music Back: Zach Top, Randall King, Emily Nenni & More On Why "What's Old Becomes Beloved Again"

Oliver Anthony performing in 2023
Oliver Anthony performs in Nashville, Tennessee in 2023.

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

interview

After Viral Fame, Oliver Anthony Bares His Soul With 'Hymnal Of A Troubled Man's Mind': "I Want To Truly Make A Difference"

On the heels of releasing his debut album, Oliver Anthony details how the project parallels his unexpected breakthrough hit, "Rich Men of North Richmond": music that's "as raw, from the heart and sincere as it can be."

GRAMMYs/Apr 5, 2024 - 06:20 pm

Last August, Oliver Anthony became the quintessential definition of overnight success. His working class anthem "Rich Men North of Richmond" went from viral sensation to history-making hit, helping the singer become the first to top the Billboard Hot 100 without any prior chart history.

But while "Richmond" showcases Anthony's brutally honest songwriting and raw delivery, its message and success are far from what define him. And he's proving just that with his debut album, 'Hymnal Of A Troubled Man's Mind.'

Helmed by Nashville superproducer Dave Cobb, the 18-track collection is rife with stories of addiction, depression, faith, and fury as Anthony documents the decade leading up to his unexpected rise to stardom (it also features eight Bible verses as interludes). A stark departure from "Richmond" in some ways and others not, the album is proof that his viral moment wasn't a fluke. 

One element that remains is Anthony's defiance of adhering to any cookie-cutter artist blueprint, which was further evidenced by the Easter Sunday arrival of Hymnal Of A Troubled Man's Mind. It's one of the many ways Anthony is showing that he's still fiercely independent, and that his unprecedented ascent hasn't changed the man he is or the music he makes.

"My day-to-day life hasn't changed a whole lot other than just not having to wake up for my job every morning," Anthony — who was born Christopher Anthony Lunsford, but pays tribute to his late grandfather with his stage name — admits. "I have this new career, but at the same time I don't know how long I'll be doing this either. At the end of the day I want to truly make a difference, not just play a bunch of shows to make a handful of executives a bunch of money only to get a pat on the back."

On the heels of releasing Hymnal Of A Troubled Man's Mind — and playing a sold-out hometown show — Lunsford spoke with GRAMMY.com about how he's navigating the balance between fame and privacy, and staying true to himself through it all.

Your stage name is your grandfather's name, so he clearly means a lot to you. Can you tell me a bit about the man Oliver Anthony was, and why he inspired you to pay tribute to him in such a way? 

Originally I was using his name as an alias because a lot of the songs I was writing talked about things my employer wouldn't approve of, like smoking pot. It was a way of hiding my identity so they couldn't Google my name and find everything. 

Another reason I did it is because we looked a lot alike. I'm the only redhead in the family other than him, and we're both 6'6" and left-handed. 

He was also just a very down-to-Earth guy. He never was one to talk much and never took the bait on politics and other stuff, he was always very down the middle. He was a hard worker too, taking a job later in life at a chemical plant where he moved up in the ranks despite being mostly self-taught. 

He was a role model of mine in many ways. During his final years, he experienced cognitive decline that made his death more of a slow goodbye. When I started writing all of these songs I was still really grieving his loss.

The full listing of your stage name, at least in the beginning, was Oliver Anthony Music. What was your intention with adding the "Music" part onto it?

The "music" is supposed to capture the timeless era from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to into the late 60's and 70's. I'm not trying to paint it as an ideal time in American history by any means, but it was just a very real time. People weren't just living then, they were surviving. I wanted to capture that era of America before we became reliant on ordering everything from Amazon, going to the grocery store for all our food and depending on people on TV to tell us how to think, where to go or what to do.

That's what Oliver Anthony Music is supposed to encapsulate — that precious time in our history that, in certain parts of the country, still exists. When you go into rural Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and the Carolinas, it almost feels like time is slowed down a bit, almost like they're 20 or 30 years in the past. 

That's why we recorded this album on 1940's microphones inside an old church. We didn't even hire a photographer for the album cover. Instead we used a Polaroid camera that Dave Cobb had sitting in his drawer. This was never intended to have all the flash of modern production. It's supposed to just be as raw, from the heart and sincere as it can be.

Is "Rich Man's Gold" a song about your grandfather and how the circumstances of his upbringing shaped him into the man you remember? 

It also focuses on the contrast between the lifestyle we live now compared to the one we lived not long ago. The main verse in the song talks about how we weren't born to just pay bills and die. The point behind that is so many people today have encapsulated their lives in student loans, credit card debt, financing new vehicles they don't need, and buying big houses as a way of filling a void they'll never be able to fill. 

I think true fulfillment in life comes from basic things we overthink, like love and connection with our family, neighbors and friends, and just living a more purposeful life. A lot of us go to work at a job we don't really like because it pays the bills, even though it falls well outside our passion, leaving us only a couple hours a week to spend doing what we truly love. Then before you know it, you're old and die and that's it, you don't get another shot at it. 

Time is the most precious thing we have, and at any moment we don't really know how much left of it we have. The song really hones in on all that to show how a lot of people are alive, but they're not really living.

How has the overnight success you've experienced changed, or not changed, who you are as a person? 

I've kept a lot of my same friends and would say that my personal life hasn't changed a whole lot. I've still got the same s—ty Suburban with a salvage title and 330,000 miles on it, and the same s—ty clothes — although I have been able to put money into a few investments to set my family up with some financial security. But I've been really careful not to change my life a lot. 

I never, ever want to get to a point in my life where I feel like I'm better than everyone else. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. That's one thing that's been a problem from the beginning because I never wanted to get on Facebook and say "Hey, look at me!" When "Richmond" blew up, I didn't want to post a lot, and instead opted to let things run their course. But due to the monetization of social and online media, people were incentivized to make posts about me since I was a trending topic, with much of it being completely fabricated. 

So it's been a weird balance of figuring out how I can, with good conscience, keep my voice out there without being an attention seeker. It's a weird balance because if I'm not posting and speaking my mind, then somebody else pretending to be me is going to do it instead.

I really just want to use what little discernment I have to make decisions that I'll look back on in 20 or 30 years and feel proud of, and not like somebody strong-armed or pressured me into something that my heart wasn't into.

One of the ways you showed that after going viral was by promoting other amazing Appalachian artists that RadioWV has featured. Who are some Appalachian artists you've been listening to or think deserve a bigger platform for their music?

To be honest, what I listen to is pretty limited and is mostly made up of people who are dead. I mainly discover new music through YouTube videos — I don't have Spotify, Pandora or anything like that. I've had the chance to meet and talk with folks like Logan Halstead, and am a big fan of his work, though. 

It drives my wife absolutely crazy, but anytime we're in the truck together and I've got control of the dial I'm putting on Hank Jr., Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lightnin' Hopkins and random stuff like Cuban dance music. I like listening to a lot of old material and folk music from other countries. It just feels more real, and nobody is trying to shove it down my throat. 

At least when I'm listening to somebody who's dead, I know that they didn't manipulate me to somehow stumble across it like how so much is today with algorithms and pay-to-play. That's also what was so cool about "Richmond," because it blew up in such an organic way with no record label or management pushing it. 

Getting back to your original question about Appalachian artists, there's so many people from the region that would blow the doors off anyone on country radio right now, that most people may never actually get to enjoy because they simply aren't getting the exposure. I'd love to see things go back to the days of good music being played and bad music doesn't rather than it all being about how much money you've got behind the song.

You previously hinted at getting into ministry in the future, and this new album of yours is littered with Bible verses. With that in mind, what does your foundation in faith mean not only to your music, but who you are as a person? 

Leading up to everything that's happened, it's obvious from listening to my music that I was severely depressed and dealing with regular suicidal thoughts and anxiety attacks. Every part of my life, from my career to my marriage, my family and my future seemed very grim. I was in a bad place leaning on alcohol, like a lot of adult men do, because they have a tough time opening up about their struggles. 

At some point I got in touch with Draven Riffe from RadioWV and made plans to record a few songs on my property the following weekend. We got to talking about the personal issues going on in both our lives and how we'd both just decided to give our lives to God. I felt like I didn't have anything left in me, so I just told God that I've done things this long by myself and haven't been able to figure anything out, so please guide me where to go and show me what to do. 

I ended up recording seven songs with Draven that weekend, but the most special moment definitely came on "Richmond." As soon as we finished recording, I looked up at him, and we locked eyes. After a moment he said, "I know we just met and I don't want you to think I'm crazy, but I swear I could feel the presence of God with us when we recorded that." 

The song ended up doing what it did, but the icing on the cake came months later during my first show after going viral at the farmer's market where over 12,000, including Jamey Johnson, showed up. I talked with him afterward and he told me he had been off songwriting but that God spoke to him and told him he needed to meet me that day. To have one of my favorite artists of all-time show up at my first gig because God told him to after everything I'd been through, it became so clear to me that I was doing what I was meant to. 

A lot of people joke that they sell their souls to the devil, but in my case I truly feel like I've signed my soul to God. He put me here to give me purpose because my life had been without it up until then. 

I don't know that I'd even call myself a Christian, but I definitely believe in Jesus Christ and find a lot of wisdom in the timeless knowledge of The Bible. There's parts of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Matthew — all of which have excerpts on the record — that are full of practical advice on living, whether it's with marriage or finances, lust or alcoholism, or even how to interact with your neighbor. That advice written many years ago is still so relevant in today's society even though most things are totally different. 

My first time in a church in 10 years was for our Easter show the other day, so I'm definitely not the church-going devout religious kind of person. I just got to a point in my life where I didn't have any other choice than to let God take control of things. You can see just how much change has happened since then — it's undeniable.

Aside from ministry, is there anything else you want to pursue with your newfound platform?

Our family just bought this old farm that was operational until a couple years ago. We're in the process now of getting it going again. Once it's operational we want to start educating the public and maybe bringing people out for workshops on gardening and other homesteading basics. 

I also want to partner with other people in that space, like Joel Salatin, or some of these YouTubers that are getting people excited about gardening on only a quarter-acre in their backyards. It tastes better than anything you can buy — even at a high-end grocery store — and can be done for little to nothing. It's so rewarding to do and something I hope to repopularize as part of this whole thing.

It sounds like you're really trying to practice what you preach in terms of what you sing about and how you embody that spirit in everything you do.

Music and my whole life in general is just trying to hold on to that beautiful, raw, less glorified and flashy way of living that's still readily available in this country. There's so much noise and everything moves so quick now that it's hard to slow your brain down enough to get excited about gardening, being outdoors and clearing the land or raising livestock. There is no instant gratification to that, it's a process. 

If you get on YouTube and scroll through 100 Shorts your mind will start going a million miles per hour, which makes it hard to want to slow down to clean up after some stupid cow afterward. It makes it very hard to integrate the two things together into how we live today. 

What has making this music taught you about yourself? 

One thing I've learned is that if I want to try to have good mental health and be a normal functioning member of society, I've got to create music. In the same way that some people use a journal to write out their thoughts, songwriting is how I'm able to get my feelings and perceptions out of my own head. When life is going really well, it's harder for me to write songs because usually my motivation stems from things going wrong. I could probably write some catchy lyrics, but they wouldn't mean anything to me. 

Everything I write about I feel deep down inside, which can also be said about some of my favorite songs. That's the beauty of music — writing it as a way to clear your head and listening to it to remind you that you're not alone.

8 Artists Bringing Traditional Country Music Back: Zach Top, Randall King, Emily Nenni & More On Why "What's Old Becomes Beloved Again"

Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.
Beyoncé accepts the Innovator Award onstage during the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on Monday, April 1.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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Beyond Country: All The Genres Beyoncé Explores On 'Cowboy Carter'

On 'COWBOY CARTER,' Beyoncé is free. Her eighth studio album is an unbridled exploration of musical genres — from country to opera and R&B — that celebrates the fluidity of music and her Texas roots.

GRAMMYs/Apr 3, 2024 - 08:50 pm

"Genres are a funny little concept, aren't they? In theory, they have a simple definition that's easy to understand. But in practice, well, some may feel confined."

With those words, spoken on "SPAGHETTII" by Linda Martell — the first commercially successful Black female artist in country music and the first to play the Grand Ole Opry solo — Beyoncé provides a proxy response to her original call on Instagram 10 days before COWBOY CARTER was released: "This ain’t a Country album. This is a “Beyoncé” album." 

She delivered on that promise with intent. Through a mix of homage and innovation, Beyoncé's latest is a 27-track testament to her boundless musicality and draws  from a rich aural palette. In addition to its country leanings, COWBOY CARTER includes everything from the soulful depths of gospel to the intricate layers of opera. 

Beyoncé's stance is clear: she's not here to fit into a box. From the heartfelt tribute in "BLACKBIIRD" to the genre-blurring tracks like "YA YA," Beyoncé uses her platform to elevate the conversation around genre, culture, and history. She doesn't claim country music; she illuminates its roots and wings, celebrating the Black artists who've shaped its essence.

The collective album proves no genre was created or remains in isolation. It's a concept stoked in the words of the opening track, "AMERIICAN REQUIEM" when Beyonce reflects, "Nothing really ends / For things to stay the same they have to change again." For country, and all popular genres of music to exist they have to evolve. No sound ever stays the same.

COWBOY CARTER's narrative arc, from "AMERICAN REQUIEM" to "AMEN," is a journey through American music's heart and soul, paying tribute to its origins while charting a path forward. This album isn't just an exploration of musical heritage; it's an act of freedom and a declaration of the multifaceted influence of Black culture on American pop culture.

Here's a closer look at some of some of the musical genres touched on in act ii, the second release of an anticipated trilogy by Beyoncé, the most GRAMMY-winning artist of all-time: 

Country 

Before COWBOY CARTER was even released, Beyoncé sparked critical discussion over the role of herself and all Black artists in country music. Yet COWBOY CARTER doesn't stake a claim on country music. Rather, it spotlights the genre through collaborations with legends and modern icons, while championing the message that country music, like all popular American music and culture, has always been built on the labor and love of Black lives. 

It's a reckoning acknowledged not only by Beyoncé's personal connection to country music growing up in Texas, but the role Black artists have played in country music rooted in gospel, blues, and folk music. 

Enter The World Of Beyoncé

Country legends, Dolly Parton ("DOLLY P", "JOLENE," and "TYRANT"), Willie Nelson ("SMOKE HOUR" and "SMOKE HOUR II"), and Martell ("SPAGHETTII and "THE LINDA MARTELL SHOW") serve mainly as spoken-word collaborators, becoming MCs for Queen Bey. Some of the most prolific country music legends receiving her in a space where she has been made to feel unwelcome in music (most notably with the racism surrounding her 2016 CMA performance of "Daddy Lessons" with the Dixie Chicks) provides a prolific release of industry levies. Martell, a woman who trod the dark country road before Bey, finally getting her much-deserved dues appears as an almost pre-ordained and poetic act of justice. 

"BLACKBIIRD," a version of the Beatles' civil rights era song of encouragement and hope for the struggle of Black women is led softly by Beyoncé, backed by a quartet of Black female contemporary country songbirds: Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts. 

Beyoncé holds space for others, using the power of her star to shine a light on those around her. These inclusions rebuke nay-sayers who quipped pre-release that she was stealing attention from other Black country artists. It also flies in the faces that shunned and discriminated against her, serving as an example of how to do better. The reality that Beyoncé wasn't stealing a spotlight, but building a stage for fellow artists, is a case study in how success for one begets success for others. 

Read more: 8 Country Crossover Artists You Should Know: Ray Charles, The Beastie Boys, Cyndi Lauper & More

Gospel, Blues, & Folk (American Roots)

As is Beyoncé's way, she mounts a case for country music with evidence to back up her testimony. She meanders a course through a sequence of styles that serve as the genre's foundation: gospel, blues, and folk music.

"AMERIICAN REQUIEM" and "AMEN" bookend the album with gospel-inspired lyrics and choir vocals. The opener sets up a reflective sermon buoyed by  the sounds of a reverberating church organ, while the closer, with its introspective lyrics, pleads for mercy and redemption. The main verse on "AMEN", "This house was built with blood and bone/ The statues they made were beautiful/ But they were lies of stone," is complemented by a blend of piano, and choral harmonies. 

Hymnal references are interlaced throughout the album, particularly in songs like "II HANDS II HEAVEN" and in the lyrical nuances on "JUST FOR FUN." In the later track, Beyoncé's voice soars with gratitude in a powerful delivery of the lines, "Time heals everything / I don't need anything / Hallelujah, I pray to her." 

The gospel-inspired, blues-based "16 CARRIAGES" reflects the rich history of country songs borrowing from the blues while simultaneously calling back to songs sung by field laborers in the colonial American South. "Sixteen dollars, workin' all day/ Ain't got time to waste, I got art to make" serves as the exhausted plea of an artist working tirelessly long hours in dedication to a better life. 

Rhiannon Giddens, a celebrated musician-scholar, two-time GRAMMY winner, and Pulitzer Prize recipient, infuses "TEXAS HOLD 'EM" with her profound understanding of American folk, country, and blues. She plays the viola and banjo, the latter tracing its origins to Sub-Saharan West Africa and the lutes of ancient Egypt. Through her skilled plucking and bending of the strings, Giddens bridges the rich musical heritage of Africa and the South with the soul of country, blues, and folk music.

Pop, Funk, Soul & Rock 'n' Roll 

All in, Beyoncé is a pop star who is wrestling with labels placed on her 27-year career in COWBOY CARTER. Fittingly, she brings in two other pop artists known for swimming in the brackish water between country and pop, Miley Cyrus and Post Malone. Her intentional inclusion of two artists who have blurred genres without much cross-examination begs the question, Why should Beyoncé's sound be segregated to a different realm? 

On "YA YA" Linda Martell returns as the listener's sonic sentinel, introducing the track like a lesson plan: "This particular tune stretches across a range of genres. And that’s what makes it a unique listening experience." The tune sinks into the strummed chords of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" before leaping into a fiery dance track that features reimagined lyrics from the Beach Boys, with soulful vocal flourishes and breaks that show the throughline connection between '60s era rock, funk, and pop music.

Robert Randolph lends his hands on "16 CARRIAGES" with a funk-infused grapple on his pedal-steel guitar. It's a style he honed through his early years touring and recording with his family band and later in his career as an in-demand collaborator working with names including the Allman Brothers, and Norah Jones

The lesson is solidified as the album transitions into an interlude on "OH LOUISIANA," featuring a sped-up sample of a classic track by Chuck Berry. This moment emphasizes the pop superstar's nod to civil rights era music history, spotlighting a controversial artist celebrated for his pioneering contributions to rock 'n' roll. (It's a part of music history Beyoncé knows well, after starring as Etta James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, a veiled biopic of the legendary Chicago label Chess Records.)

Classical & Opera

Opera was missing from many listeners' Beyoncé Bingo card, but didn't surprise those that know her background. Beyoncé was trained for over a decade starting at an early age by her voice teacher David Lee Brewer, a retired opera singer who once lived with the Knowles family. 

COWBOY CARTER gives sing-along fans a 101 opera class with "DAUGHTER." In Italian, Beyoncé sings passages from the 1783 Italian opera "Caro Mio Ben," composed by Giuseppe Tommaso Giovanni Giordani. The aria is a classic piece of vocal training that fittingly shows off her full range — taking us back to the earliest days of her vocal teachings.

Hip-Hop & R&B

Midway through the album on "SPAGHETTII" Beyoncé announces, "I ain't no regular singer, now come get everythin' you came for," landing right where expectations have confined her: in the throes of a romping beat, experimenting with sounds that blend hip-hop with R&B and soul. The track notably highlights the talent of Nigerian American singer/rapper Shaboozey, who also shows up to the rodeo on "SWEET HONEY BUCKIN'" brandishing his unique mix of hip-hop, folk-pop, and country music. 

Beyoncé worked with longtime collaborator Raphael Saadiq on this album, a career legend in the R&B industry, who lends his mark to several tracks on which he wrote, produced, and played multiple instruments. Beyoncé also utilizes the Louisiana songwriter Willie Jones on "JUST FOR FUN," an artist who draws on a contemporary blend of country, Southern rap, and R&B in the hymnal ballad. 

The violin-heavy "TYRANT" and "SPAGHETTII" both underscore hip-hop's long love affair with the classical string instrument (See: Common's "Be," and Wu Tang Clan's "Reunited" as the tip of that particular iceberg) with a blend of soulful R&B lyrics paired with beat-based instrumentalization. 

In a world quick to draw lines and label sounds, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER stands as a vibrant mosaic of musical influence and innovation. Ultimately, Beyoncé's COWBOY CARTER isn't seeking anyone's acceptance. As a Texan once told she didn't belong, her critical response claps back at this exclusion.  It's also a reminder that in the hands of a true artist, music is limitless.

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