Nashville Rules the Grammy Awards

As a Nashvillian who is quite proud to make Los Angeles my other home, I was very excited to see such a strong showing for Nashville talent tonight at the Grammy Awards in LA. There have been several eras in pop music history when Nashville artists became mainstream and were recognized by the major awards shows, and mostly for traditional country music (“Urban Cowboy”, Dolly Parton, and Barbara Mandrell in the 80’s), but there has not been a year on record that I can remember when Nashville talent so dominated popular music and the Grammy Awards.

Among the Nashvillians featured on tonight’s awards show: Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Kings of Leon, Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Sheryl Crowe, and Carrie Underwood. Not just a country list by any means. But even traditional country singers like Miranda Lambert fared well (though not on the televised show). Nashvillians Rhonda Vincent and Steve Earl also were honored for outstanding bluegrass and folk albums.

Why has this happened? Nashville is not turning out as many artists as it did during the 80’s and 90’s, but the ones Music City produces today are capable of transcending the country genre. Taylor Swift and Zac Brown Brand can reach beyond the country genre simply because they are a) young, and b) removed the whining steel guitar and other traditional country elements from their music which many of the younger generation do not like. They also sing about universal themes rather than honky tonks and crying in their beer (though I suppose that may be universal). But this also is happening as postmodernism touches music so that there is a blurring of the genres, and artists even perform together that we would never have imagined on the same stage. Andrea Bocelli and Mary K. Blige? Carrie Underwood and Celine Dion? Lady Gaga and Elton John? (ok, that one is a bit more predictable I suppose). This same phenomena also is breaking down radio categories so that top 40 stations play Taylor Swift, contemporary Christian stations play The Fray, and country stations play … well, country songs (they are still living in the modern age).

I also think that American culture, and particularly the younger generation, is attracted to something else about many of Nashville’s artists: authenticity. No value is more endearing to the Millennial Generation, and to Generation X too, than authenticity. Taylor Swift gets off tune in live performances, but the crowds love her anyway because she and her songs are heartfelt and genuine. Country songs speak of loss, heartache, love and faith in a way that better represents America’s heartland than those songs that originate out of cosmopolitan cities or inner city hoods, as fun as those songs can be. Nashville artists are nice, appreciative, and real — and that goes a long way in difficult times when people are looking for something that connects and something that speak to the heart.

I am proud of my home town and its success on the national charts, but I will have to say that Lady Gaga and Beyonce were so deserving of Best Album of the Year tonight too. Both had extraordinary albums that were well written and produced, were artistic in their concept and were just a lot of fun. It’s too bad they couldn’t share the award with Taylor.

The performances all were solid for the most part, save Taylor’s, but none was more impressive than Pink. I am not sure that I have ever seen a more artistic spectacle at an awards show, and she now has earned even greater respect from me because of her amazing performance.

It was a fun night at the Grammys, and I’m excited that, at least for this year, Nashville took the cake and brought home some Grammy awards. Keep it coming!

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