03 Pop Country vs Traditional Country

This week I got asked a great question that got me thinking and I felt like it was worthy of a  thoughtful response. On Instagram @realcountrymusicpage asked me “do you support pop country or just traditional country?”  

Now, I know this is a hot button topic and there are some really strong opinions on both sides of the conversation because as music lovers we’re passionate and loyal when it comes to the music we support and love. But as the creator of a show that claims to champion for aspiring country artists I thought it was a fair question to ask where I fall on the matter. The answer is yes! This show exists to support and encourage music makers and dreamers, regardless of the kind of music they’re making. 

In an interview with Dan Rather asked Vince Gill “do you like the way country music is going today?”  loaded question right? But I think Vince answered so eloquently in his response when he said

“I do. It’s not my cup of tea, but I don’t know if I was Merle Haggard’s cup of tea when I first got going and I don’t know if Merle Haggard was Roy Acuff’s Cup of Tea. I don’t know if Roy Acuff was Jimmie Rodgers’ cup of tea.” He went on to say “I love seeing kids come along and being moved by what they’re moved by. I don’t care if they’re moved by the same things I am. I love seeing young people just out there doing what they love.”

I really share Vince’s sentiment here. Personally I’m a huge fan of traditional country. It’s the music I make, it’s what I was raised on and it’s what I love listening to. I don’t listen to pop country or bro country because it’s just not my scene, but that’s just me - to each his own. If you love it live it!

Now, if you had asked me this question a few years ago I likely would have had a really bitter response and that’s because I spent years as an artist barking up the wrong tree and in return I spent years being told that I wasn’t contemporary enough for today’s market and my songs were “too country”. I was told over and over again to lie about my age, to dress the part and to rearrange my songs to leave the listeners hopeful and I'll be honest, it pissed me off.

Since when did country music become about always leaving folks hopeful? Some of my all time favorite country songs will break your heart and you’ll let ‘em because they’re just that good. And did we as a musical community really believe that music had an age limit? I mean come on! Imagine if all the artists you love stopped making music when they hit a certain age because they were told they had aged out of the genre? The world would miss out on so much great music! 

But somewhere along the way, when I seductively was close to quitting  (I’ll talk more about that down the road) I took a long hard look at all my heroes. They didn’t play by the rules and as a result they had to fight hard to get their music heard and they faced a lot of blow back and resistance. Something in my mindset started to shift and I realized that my fight was different from that of my heroes. To hear the rest of the story tune in to episode number 3 of the Opry Dreamer podcast.

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Thanks for Reading and I'll see you at the Opry!