April 2018

Kacey Country

Learning about the music of country singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves.

National Standards: 7-9, 11

Prepare: Have the class read Kacey Country (page 40 of the student edition). The article discusses career and evolving musical style of country artist Kacey Musgraves.

Key points in the article:

  • Throughout her career, Kacey Musgraves has been hailed for not just abandoning tradition, but expanding it by bringing in outside influences.
  • Musgraves began as an indie artist in Austin, learning mandolin, guitar, and voice. She released three indie albums before being discovered on Nashville Star, which led to a contract with Mercury Nashville Records.
  • Next came a song collaboration with Miranda Lambert, Different Trailer, Different Park in 2013, and Pageant Material in 2015. Musgraves became increasingly recognized for her clever lyrics and writing.
  • Musgraves’ latest record, Golden Hour, explores deeper emotions than she’s ever shared in her music.

Begin: Discuss with students the pros and cons of country’s evolution as a genre. Topics may include:

  • The value of preserving tradition v. pushing for innovation
  • The popularity of country’s crossover hits
  • Musgraves’ unique approach of loyalty to tradition but openness to modern influence

Develop: Play the following video of Musgraves’ “High Horse”:

Discuss with students the variety of musical elements in the song and which genres they’re likely taken from. The song has clear influence from disco and the Bee Gees, as well as country influence on form, instrumentation, and lyrical content. What would the song sound like without the disco beat?

Expand: Now play the following video of Musgraves’ “Space Cowboy”:

What genre elements can students recognize in this song?
Especially in song form, instrumentation (steel guitar, mandolin), lyrical content, and vocal style, the song has stronger country influence than “High Horse,” but still bears strong modern influence in overall production.