I’m a Texas girl, doesn’t matter if I live to be 200 I’ll always be a Texas girl and one thing I was raised on was country music. I named my cats after Hank Williams Jr and Waylon Jennings’s son Shooter for goodness sakes, so when this usual good ol boy genre finds itself in the middle of a rap style beef-fest and smack hits the fan even those of us laid up here in a country state of mind have to tip our proverbial hats back and take a look around.
Eric Church, singer of Guys Like Me, Love Your Love The Most and with the current release of his album Chief has fired the first shot across the guitar strings and aimed for Blake Shelton and other country music acts that have found a place in the reality tv realm be it like Blake, a judge on NBC’s hit The Voice or American Idol alums that “got a record deal” apparently Church takes a wild wide swing and doesn’t care who all he inadvertently hits, including Blake Shelton’s wife Miranda Lambert who had him on her 2010 tour.
Now honesty requires me to admit I’m a fan of both Miranda and Blake and I live a short truck ride south of Miranda’s home town. Texas girls tend to voice our opinions so while I support someone’s ability to speak out, allow me to state a few reasons and examples of why Mr. Church should have stayed with his “Smoke a Little Smoke” and left well enough alone.
Let me start off with the first reason I alluded to, that 2010 tour with Miranda Lambert, who I got to know on a little show on USA Networks called Nashville Star. While she didn’t end up winning that reality show, she did get a record deal and subsequently won many awards such as Academy of Country Music awards for both Top Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year in which Mr. Church was also nominated. All in all Miranda has won 19 major awards including a 2011 Grammy for Best Female Vocal Performance. Not to bad for a reality show contestant that just got a recording deal because of a tv show right?
Let’s think about another reality show that took place before Nashville Star and American Idol. Remember Star Search? Ok, in all fairness there were two incarnations of it, the one I remember with Ed McMahon and then a reincarnation hosted by Arsenal Hall that if memory serves me right Naomi Judd helped judge. Let’s start with ladies first shall we? Ms. Naomi is the mother part of the Mother/Daughter duo called The Judds. All in all they have won 22 of the 48 awards they had been nominated for including 4 Grammys and the Academy of Country Music award for Vocal Duet of the year from 1984-1990 to name just a few. If Mr. Church is to be believed, Naomi’s stint as a judge on this show and others makes a joke of her music heritage. I’d not advise Eric to say that in front of her or her die hard fans.
Star Search didn’t just have country stars as judges as part of it’s bragging rights. Sawyer Brown was Season One’s Vocal Group winner. In addition to 100,000 dollar cash prize they also won a recording contract and went on to have over 50 songs in the US Billboard Hot Country charts. Yet Star Search doesn’t just have Sawyer Brown in it’s lists of former competitors. LeAnn Rimes, Phil Vasser, and Ty Herdon are among the country acts that have been on the stage as well as major stars from other genres as well like Aaliyah, Alanis Morissette, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Brittney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
In all fairness, Mr. Church didn’t mention Nashville Star or Star Search, so why don’t we go back to American Idol which he did mention. First name that comes to my mind in Country music is Carrie Underwood who appeared on Season 4 of AI. Carrie is a Guiness Book of World Record’s holder for Female Country Artist with Most number one Hits on such chart from 1991 to present. (Ok so she’s tied with Reba McEntire who guest mentored on The Voice with Blake Shelton.) She is still making hits and is still gaining awards, like her 5 Grammys and many nominations including 5 CMT Music Award Nominations that are still to be determined. American Idol is responsible for 12 artists that have sold over a million albums to date, 3 of which are country artists or have had a song in the country charts. (Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson’s duet with Jason Aldean, Kellie Pickler)
I could keep going on with people like Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride Sara Evans and Miranda Lambert (She just keeps popping up right? LOL) who have taken part of what I knew as the Colgate Country Showdown but I now think is called the Texaco Country Showdown. The finals of the competition have been televised in the past so an argument could be made this too is a reality music contest. Would Mr. Church dare question the artistry of Garth or the contributions he made to country music?
I’m not even going to get started on The Grand Ole Opry or people who preformed and starred on HeeHaw back in the day. The fact is, music is constantly evolving as is the way people are exposed to it. Whether someone is performing on a television show or conducting an interview with a magazine that isn’t normally thought of as the standard reading material of their chosen genre the important thing is they act as ambassador’s and bring new fans to not only themselves but hopefully to country as a whole. We don’t do that by bickering and tearing down the people who are serving as the reigning Male and Female Country Music Association’s Vocalists of the Year.
I will appologize in advance if the excerpts I have read from Mr. Church’s interview in Rolling Stone were taken out of context. I haven’t wasted my money on that particular publication since 2004 and don’t believe that Eric Church’s attempt to appeal to a different audience since he doesn’t have a major platform like Reality TV will be enough to encourage me to break that particular boycott.
Think about it, do we really want to have country versions of Kayne West interrupting during our award shows or a 50 Cent/Kayne “I’m gonna sell more albums than you will or I’ll retire from writing” smack down? Please, that is one of the things that I like about Country Music, I think that somewhere, somehow they could meet up on someone’s back porch and share a cold drink and solve the world’s problems if only they ruled the world. Leave that shit to the other folks, we don’t want it or need it here in Country Music, yet at the same time, don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself. Maybe there is a fine line all country artists have to walk, but luckily, country music has a song for that right?
Till Next time…