Discussion: Country Music Around the World

Country music, by and large, has been confined to the North American continent since its inception as a commercial art form in the 1920’s. On the one hand, that’s understandable because much of country music is grounded in the rural American experience. On the other hand, country music touches on universal subjects, and revels in sharing common experiences.

It seems that people forget that the majority of the world is composed of farmland and small towns. Five minutes outside of Paris and you’re in the middle of the country. What does the European Union fight over more than anything else? Farm subsidies. The Australian outback is as close to Texas outside of the United States as you’re going to get; and South America subsists on primarily agricultural exports.

So why haven’t country music stars reached abroad to further their careers to a great extent? It always amazes me that more big name artists don’t promote their albums and tour abroad. Brooks & Dunn went on a tour of Australia earlier this year. They thought about keeping it small at first, but after they sold out those shows, they moved to arenas.

The CMA has recently recognized this achievement through its International Artist Achievement Award. Previous winners include: BR5 49 (1996), The Mavericks (1997), Trisha Yearwood (1998), Shania Twain (1999), Reba McEntire (2000), Lonestar (2001), Bellamy Brothers (2002), Dixie Chicks (2003), Dolly Parton (2004), Keith Urban (2005), Dixie Chicks (2006) and Dwight Yoakam (2007). However, while this is an impressive award, the CMA has little to choose from—these artists are among the very few that have made the effort.

In recent years, I’ve noticed a shift. Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts recently made trips to London, and Dierks Bentley played festivals in Sweden and France.

My question for you all has two potential paths, depending on where you are from: (1) If you are a country music listener from outside of the United States, please tell us where you are from, your top three favorite artists, and what you love about country music. (2) If you are a country music listener from the U.S., which three artists would you choose as ambassadors to the world on behalf of country music, and why?

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0 Responses to Discussion: Country Music Around the World

  1. I wasn’t aware that the Dixie Chicks won the CMA International Artist Achievement Award twice. I would definitely choose them as ambassadors of the format, along with Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood.

  2. Chris D.No Gravatar

    I would also pick the Dixie Chicks and Trisha Yearwood, but I would prefer Lee Ann Womack. None of those three sing any “hick” songs that would probably disgust European listeners, since the concept of rednecks seems to stay within the USA.

  3. FelipeNo Gravatar

    Well, lets go…

    I’m Brazilian, and once I heard that here was the 4th nation for country music in success, after USA, Canada and Australia. I don’t know if that’s truth, but even here we are not used to listen to it, it could be worse. 1 year ago, I moved from a big city to a small town, and here I could realize that on the farms and this stuff, there’s some people who are listening to it! And here we have “sertanejo”, a style much related to country. I really don’t like it, but just to show that we’re not that bad.
    There some names really famous here, like Shania Twain and Allan Jackson. Shania (or Twain, here we aren’t used to talk the last name =]) is idolized here!! Wow, I think it’s weird, because I don’t see her being so adored in American forums, for example. Now we are kinda forgotten…

    Well, I think I can make a top 3 list… I just love women singing, so you can imagine what it is (Carrie, Martina, Ashton Shepherd, Julie Roberts, Sunny Sweeney, Dixie Chicks… hehehe).

    What I love about country music? Oh… everything… hehehe The sound is great, and the lyrics too… with amazing voices… The thematic is very important to me, I like it…

    Well, I’m in a hurry, so if I wrote something wrong, I’m sorry…(By the way, I don’t have a great English)

  4. I think that “White Trash Wedding” might qualify as a hick song.

  5. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar

    Does it count if it’s done tongue-in-cheek? ;) The bluegrass element might make up for it.

  6. stephanieNo Gravatar

    I’m dutch. Here in the netherlands most people think that when you’re into country music you’re into things like line-dancing too. My favorite is Faith Hill. Since she isn’t coming over to Europe I went to see her in the states twice, and was not dissappointed by her; awesome voice. Also love the Dixie Chicks, saw them in Dusseldorf, Germany. Love lots of old time country songs and lots of new.
    Strange that Faith Hill didn’t win the international cma award in 2000 or 2001.She had huge hits in Europe (and world wide) with this kiss, breathe, the way you love me,there you’ll be where are you christmas and cry. I guess even back then she was underestimated and considered not worthy!!!

  7. Chris D.No Gravatar

    That’s what I thought Lynn, since “White Trash Wedding” seems to be more making fun of hicks, but I did forget that song. xD
    I guess that’s the only hick song I really like.

  8. ZachNo Gravatar

    out of current popular artists I’d choose:
    Carrie Underwood (female)
    Sugarland (groups/duos)
    and Brad Paisley (male)
    -because each represents a group of country music and to me I think these 3 would most appeal to the outside world.

    out of everyone overall:
    -Shania Twain: She is the ultimate global country star and people know her around the world.
    -Garth Brooks: one of the best representations of country overall.
    -Dixie Chicks: They are one of the best groups/duos in country music and are loved in other countries as well. :)
    those are mine :)

  9. swissarmyNo Gravatar

    hello, first time to comment here, but have been an avid reader since forever (even before the site got a million hits =) ).

    from the philippines here (asia represent), and i’m just a music junkie (any type) and a junkie for great voices. and i think that’s one that i’ve discovered in country music is that many country songs have awesome vocals, great lyrics, are feel-good rhytmically/musically, and very relatable. to be honest i just discovered the genre in 2007 (better late than never), and i was stoked by this addition to my music collection. i was also surprised by many classics/oldies that were country songs, i was like, “so this was a country song?!” hehe.

    also, i like the way the genre values songs and their artists. that many country music fans are not necessarily in it for an artist’s popularity (of course there are a few exceptions), but for the songs themselves, and a lot of times, for what the artist stands for. get my drift? that many a person in the genre value longevity even if they know that not many would buy their record, what’s important is that they make songs that they love. well i know it can be the case in other genres, but i find that more obvious in country that i think it’s revolutionary especially nowadays. and that’s very admirable for me. or maybe that’s just me, haha.

    here in our country, the only songs that have hit the airwaves were the crossover songs of shania, martina, faith, carrie and lately taylor. and they aren’t even mentioned here to be “country” songs. so it’s really a stretch for country music to be spread around here, especially without an act touring around here in asia (figures). i think it would be safe to say that i’ve/we’ve gotten to know country music either from our elders or just a couple of years back through tv shows or the internet.

    personally, i was introduced to country music through american idol. and no, it wasn’t carrie underwood (sorry i was for bo bice then), but through martina mcbride when she guested on the show. her mention back on s4 as carrie’s idol didn’t really stick with me, since i only knew martina through her songs ‘i love you’ and ‘valentine’ way back, and back then it was a matter of those songs having more resonance than the artist herself.

    so for the ambassadors: martina – because i believe her catalog would have been a hit here (and most likely in asia) had it been played, just by her sheer interpretative skills that move, and i think her songs is an eclectic mix of country ‘types’. next is reba – because she is reba, hehe. and probably because of her twangy voice that’s not forgettable, couple that with her country songs which are awesome in story-telling. then last is a toss-up among george strait, alan jackson and vince gill – you’ve got the two traditional country voices that tell great stories, and that memorable voice that’s very soothing to hear with meaningful songs. (my honorable ambassador would be miranda lambert, maybe if martina or reba aren’t available, haha. because at her age, she’s great in songwriting and her edgy material rocks and can appeal to many).

    these artists i choose because of their pure voices and their songs which i think altogether reach the end-to-end spectrum of what can be called country.

    but of course in reality, if you were to market it here in asia, you’d go with the crossover flow and mass appeal of carrie, taylor and shania. don’t get me wrong, i dig carrie and shania songs. taylor’s, not so much (maybe when she hits her 20′s =D ).

    whew! that’s all for me ;-)
    thanks lynn for starting the discussion.
    it’s a cool way to let you guys know that despite the genre being generally unfamiliar in most countries, country sure does reach places around the world =)

  10. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Swissarmy,

    That’s why I think this is a cool thread from Lynn. I know we have a number of readers from other countries and it’s fun to get a rough count of how many of you there are and where you’re all from.

    I think your choices are great and you seem to have a great handle on country music.

  11. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar

    Australia has had an indigenous country music market for decades. During the 1940s artists such as Gordon Parsons, Tex Morton and Slim Dusty arose, and while they did not succeed outside of Australia and/or New Zealand (except Slim Dusty’s “Pub With No Beer” was popular around the English speaking world)they developed the outback’s music into a form much like the North American artists Wilf Carter & Hank Snow.

    As for more pop leaning country, Frank Ifield achieved global fame with “I Remember You”. Granted, more recent Aussie exports like Newton-John and Urban have been slicker, but the country music market in Australia is alive and well, and doesn’t need “help” from the likes of Brooks and Dunn

  12. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar

    I pick the following (as our best and brightest …

    Sugarland – because I think they are the epitome of what is great about country music – and the only mainstream artist worth licking boots right now

    Reba – because she is Reba (as already mentioned)

    Garth Brooks – following the same logic as Reba

    Vince Gill – he is the most talented individual in Nashville, and if more people heard Vince, the entire globe would be listening to country

    Alison Krauss – because she sings like an angel (God should be so lucky)

  13. JaneNo Gravatar

    I’m from Australia… and my top three would be:
    Martina McBride
    Sara Evans
    Sugarland

    I love country music ‘cos it relatable. Most country artists sing about love, and loss, and family, and I think these themes are pretty universal. Anyone could relate to them, and I do.

  14. Hi everybody !

    I’m 20 and I’m from France !

    This summer Kevin Fowler, Dierks Bentley, George Ducas and Whiskey Falls were in France …
    There’re all great artists !

    Personnally, my favourites ones are Kenny Chesney, Montgomery Gentry and Rio Grand !

    I’m the president of a french Country & Rock webradio called “The Buffalo” (www.thebuffalo.fr.cr), and we’re tryin’ to promote good country music in France !

    Greetings from France,

    PS : the “Country Universe Blog” really rocks !!!

  15. I’m absolutely loving all of the international readers revealing themselves. Keep it coming!

  16. RainbowNo Gravatar

    I’m a full-blood Norwegian.
    I’d pretty much say that the only non-local country artist with serious presence here is Dolly Parton. Reba has also become a bit famous because of her TV show, which used to air here every day at 5.00 PM on one of our biggest TV channels.

  17. RainbowNo Gravatar

    Current top three:

    1. Reba McEntire
    2. Trisha Yearwood
    3. Dolly Parton

  18. Charles

    Hi,
    My first post here

    I’m from Taiwan
    My top artists are:
    Martina, Faith, Dolly

    and I can tell LeAnn Rimes is the most popular country singer here, her album “I Need You” became the best selling album from international artists back then, and her collection hit the #1, outsold other local acts, even though they were more pop crossover produtions, but she’s one of the few international artists that have the marketability here.

  19. Aeroyacine

    Hi everybody! I’m 21 and I’m from Algeria in North of Africa and I Love so much Country Music; At my begennings i was a Hard Rock Fan but by the time I find in Country Music my peace of mind , because it’s so mature by the lyrics and musically especially the ballads !
    I Love so much New Country than Old Country School, be Country Fan is more than listen to Country Music , Country change my way to live , my way to think , my way to wearing clothes , my hair cut and moreeeeeeeeeeeee………….

    My Top 3:
    Tim McGraw
    Trace Adkins
    George Strait

  20. Steve F.No Gravatar

    Country does seem to be thriving in Canada and Austrailia also..it may be an English language thing to some degree. Italian and German for Opera, and English, the language of Country. But it’s rural themes are certainly universal, so Country’s international appeal if very understandable. But it may be natural for Country music to have more success in English speaking countries, especially considering that Country and Bluegrass stem from the Mountain music brought over from the British Isles by early American settlers..their Celtic folk songs and all.

    But it is always delightful to hear from folks from other parts of the world where one might not expect…Sara Evans, for example has an Austrian fan, some Dutch fans as well, I believe, and quite a few from from Scotland and Wales, (In addition to England, Ireland and Canada.)

    Picking up on what Paul said about Austrailia…I remember Brad Paisley saying something to the effect of “If you take Texas and cut it loose from the mainland, if you make it an island, it would be called Austrailia,” lol.

    As for Ambassadors for American Country Music? I pretty much differ from all the choices mentioned so far. I’d really like the more traditonal artists to be the face of Country music, as opposed to the Country-Pop artists mentioned. I would choose male and female artists who not only sound Traditonal, but have been around for a while and have extensive repetoires, and are really connected with their Country and Bluegrass heritage. And are also are still active today. I can only think of a few who really fit this bill:

    For the ladies: Patty Loveless and Dolly Parton, (That would make Porter proud as well!)

    For the men: Alan Jackson and George Strait. And Ralph Stanley for Bluegrass.

    I can think of no better ambassadors for Country music.

    Great topic Lynn!

    -Steve from Boston

  21. Steve F.No Gravatar

    I’d really like to second Kevin’s welcome to the Country music fans from ALL over the world..wow..

    Brazil, Phillipines, Norway, Nigeria, Netherlands, France, Taiwan,…Welcome ALL!

    Also, How could I have forgotten Vince Gill? OK, I’d substitute Vince for Ralph, since Ralph Stanley isn’t quite as active as Vince anymore.

    The Dixie Chicks? No way, unless they could refrain from politics and from trashing the American President overseas. That is not good ambassadorship. They have alienated at least half of the Country fans in America, and probably half or their own former fanbase as well. (I was one of them) That is not good representation. They certainly don’t speak for me.

    -Steve from Boston

  22. Zachariah

    Hey, all. My first post too, like many of us first-timers here. Great thread by the way, to break the ice. Zach from Singapore here, Southeast Asia represent! =)

    We’re a small island, so most of our music are either Western imports (Madonna, Linkin Park, Kanye West, Rihanna are all the rage here) or Malaysian & Chinese music. Sadly, I’ve yet to see much interest country music over these waters.

    I’ve been listening to country for almost a year now…it all stated in a weird way for me though. I was watching several clips on drink-driving on YouTube, for a sociology-related paper I had to complete, and just out of curiosity, I clicked on the video for “Whiskey Lullaby.” Loved it from the very first bit. Brad Paisley sure kicked ass, but Alison Krauss was the one that became my obsession. Been listening to her ever since.

    And I guess it took off from there..I’ve been tuned into mostly a balanced mix of new and old country. George Jones, Merle Haggard, Lucinda Williams are my fav picks for the old, and Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, Chris Young, Josh Turner, Luke Bryan & Miranda Lambert are my favs for the new.

    I’m still learning to acknowledge all the different sounds of country music — country-pop, bluegrass, neotraditional, honkytonk, did I spell any of them correctly?? I’m looking forward to getting exposed to these different sounds of country.

    Here, the only country music we’ve ever gotten on our airwaves this year(as best as I can recall) are Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Lonestar. Even so, the radio stations tend to gravitate towards the more “country-pop” remixes of some of these artists’ songs. For example, they played Underwood’s So Small & All-American Girl, and that Taylor Swift song about her guitar, to death, but turned a deaf ear over the more “country” singles such as “Last Name”, “Before He Cheats” and “Our Song.” And the only Lonestar that ever got played was the pop version of “Amazed.”

    I don’t know why, but I guess Mandopop and Korean/Japanese pop are the way to go over here. One thing I’ve always loved and came to appreciate in country music is that a lot of the songs you guys make are story-oriented, with a theme I can always relate to. They aren’t just generic love songs; I really love the fact that country music covers a whole range of issues, often times in very specific circumstances and in great detail (“Every Other Weekend” by Reba & Kenny Chesney is one of my favs), and I love listening and following the story like as if I’m really living it.

    I’ve even grown to love country songs that talk about nothing else but bars, women, trucks and stuff like that (I still crack up every time I hear Toby Keith’s I Wanna Talk about Me!

    If you’re talking about who should be ambassadors for American country music, for starters, it should be Jimmy Wayne, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes (although I guess you can hardly call them traditional country artists), but I feel that they are more accessible to Asians since their albums that do make it here are generally country-pop oriented. I’ve tried introducing the likes of Josh Turner, Garth Brooks, Dixie Chicks, Dierks Bentley & Jason Allen to a lot of people I’ve known, but most of them either couldn’t understand & connect with the songs, or found their vocals too far removed from their usual tastes. But some of them really liked Trisha Yearwood & Alison Krauss, so I guess these girls could do too. Then maybe, more traditional artists could be slowly introduced. I know for a fact that there are a lot of closet Dolly Parton fans in S’pore, seeing that my old folks themselves are amongst them, so I strongly suggest she should make her comeback here again! =)

    - Zach

  23. Kent

    I’m from Canada. My top 3 artists are:

    1. Hedley
    2. Jonas Brothers
    3. Josh Gracin

    Oh wait, you want country:

    1. Josh Gracin
    2. Dierks Bentley
    3. Jason Aldean

    I can’t really explain why I love country music, I just do.

  24. AaronNo Gravatar

    Wow! I’m lovin the international presence here!!! It’s great to have you guys listening to country!!!

    So, in my opinion, I would say that if I had to pick three ambassadors for country music, I’d go with people who represent what country music is…past and present. That way, other countries can get a feel for country as a whole…and not just as the current country-pop that is hugely popular now. So, here’d be my three.

    As far as the new country, who better than to go with Carrie Underwood. She’s basically the top country female artist right now. She’s had like 7 straight number 1 hits and I think she has huge potential for international succes.

    As far as someone in the middle of traditional and country pop, I’d go with Brad Paisley. Like Underwood, to me, he is the top male country artist right now. His songs are a mix of traditional (Whiskey Lullaby, When I Get Where I’m Going) to more of today’s country (Online, Ticks).

    As far as someone who had kept their traditional roots from the beginning of their career, who better than the King himself…George Strait. I think these three would give a good representation of country as a genre.

  25. StephenNo Gravatar

    I live in the US, obviously, but my family is from Mexico and visiting them every summer gives you a good indication of what they play over there. I have only heard two country songs played in Mexico, and I was shocked that I was hearing anything at all. The two songs they played were “Before He Cheats” and “Teardrops On My Guitar.” After thinking about it, I shouldn’t have been surprised (especially considering TDOMG was the pop-version), but I started thinking about which country artists would fare best internationally. Here’s who I came up with and a short explanation for why I think they’d succeed:

    1) Carrie Underwood – She has had a string of #1 singles and BHC become a huge cross-over hit and was even played in Mexico (where even Shania Twain is almost unheard of). Her songs are more pop-country, but you can still tell that she is country and so she would probably get the most airplay of any country artists currently around (with the exception of Taylor Swift, but considering she remixes her songs, I don’t know if she would promote herself as a country singer.)

    2) Brad Paisley – His songs, as of late, have been extremely radio-friendly, despite having medicore lyrics (with the exceptions of Waitin’ On A Woman and Letter To Me), and I can see him getting significant airplay in other countries. Plus, his voice is extremely country and if he releases the right songs (Letter To Me, Waitin’ On A Woman, Online) then people won’t see him as a “hick.” (If he were to release Ticks, all would be lost.)

    3) Kenny Chesney – Honestly, I think the island beats would get a lot of airplay. I’m actually surprised they haven’t sent some of his songs for adds to Triple A radio or to Top 40. HONESTLY, I am.

  26. Terrific post, and I love everyone’s comments. I’m a U.S. citizen, though I did grow up on a Pacific island (and the birthplace of the steel guitar, no less). I have to be boring and agree with Kevin’s choices for the three ambassadors. If Keith Urban played music that was a little more representative of the country genre as a whole, I’d go with him, as well. I think Alison Krauss has extremely universal appeal, too, though not necessarily as a pure country singer.

  27. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar

    I’ll be boring as well. :) I like Kevin’s choices.

    I also feel that there is universal appeal in the music of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and George Strait, among others. (A lot of the newer stars might have an easier time crossing over-Lady A, Carrie U, Keith U, etc., but while talented, I don’t feel like they are the best reps of “country” music.)

    The only American country artist I’ve ever heard outside the US (other than Canada) is Faith Hill. In my personal experience, the world has a fascination with pop music – bubblegum pop, techno pop, Latin pop, etc. (So, I’m not surprised by many of the comments.) However, I truly believe many would love country if given the opportunity to hear it on a regular basis and if they were exposed to a wide range of artists.

    One of the biggest obstacles is breaking down a lot of negative stereotypes. (Hate the Dixie Chicks all you want but they helped break many of those down (unfortunately, the reaction helped reinforce them at the same time).) I hope sites like this, where its authors and readers aren’t necessarily the stereotypical country fan, help out.

    Thanks everyone for posting and sharing! Don’t be shy in the future!

  28. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar

    Random info, FYI:

    The country-related artists on the UK album chart at the moment:

    Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Glen Campbell
    Alison Krauss/Robert Plant

    The current Australian country album chart (see Paul’s comment)- It’s always a good mix of US/Aussie artists:

    1. Hillbilly Road, John Williamson
    2. The Best of Country Music Channel 2008, Various
    3. Bundy Country 2, Various
    4. Rattlin’ Bones, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
    5. Look it Up, Jasmine Rae
    6. Dust Will Settle, The Sunny Cowgirls
    7. Greatest Hits 1998-2008, Adam Brand
    8. Long Road Out of Eden, Eagles
    9. Award Winning Country Volume 7, Various
    10. Life, Death, Love and Freedom, John Mellencamp
    11. Good time, Alan Jackson
    12. Essential Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash
    13. Love on the Inside, Sugarland
    14. Greatest Hits: 18 Kids, Keith Urban
    15. Ultimate Hits, Garth Brooks
    16. Chaos and Bright Lights, The McClymonts
    17. Legend: The Very Best of Willie Nelson, Willie Nelson
    18. The Plantinum Collection, John Williamson
    19. Taking the Long Way, Dixie Chicks
    20. Reunion, The Slim Dusty Family

  29. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar

    I am really impressed with a lot of the choices for ambassadors of country music.

    And I also want to throw out a great big ‘How-DEE!’ and welcome to all the first-time posters from around the globe. Keep on reading, there are a host of great features on this site – and more coming every day.

  30. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Yes, I hope those who’ve commented for the first time on this post will continue to join our conversations. You guys have already added such a valuable and interesting perspective and I’d love to read your input more often.

  31. Ditto to what Lynn and Leeann said. Y’all come back now!

  32. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    ya hear?

  33. Oh yes, thanks Leeann. How silly of me to forget. :)

  34. Steve F.No Gravatar

    It’s not a matter of hating the Dixie Chicks…they insulted a sitting President while on foreign soil. Love or Hate President Bush, he is still the President. How is that good ambassadorship? They appointed themselves as ambassadors, and alienated half the country, and many many Country music fans in the process.

    If one says “but it’s not about politics, it’s about the music”…that’s exactly my point. It SHOULD have been about the music, but THEY cast themselves in a political role, in a way that offended many many people, and therefore are not qualified to be considered musical ambassadors, in my opinion.

    If you want to say Toby should not be considered an ambassador either, fair enough. But he was more reactive, although I admit the Angry American was a political song. But I dont think he offended many Country fans with the song itself, Just some journalists, and the Chicks…

    What negative stereotypes and barriers are you refering to Lynn, that the Chicks broke down to make Country music more palitable overseas?

    If my memory serves me correctly, the Chicks repudiated Country music as a genre, and said they did not want fans who have Reba and Toby in their CD players.

    Did I miss something, or have the Dixie Chicks since repudiated their repudiation of Country Music?

    In addition to the controversy, I for one find the Chicks arrogant and offensive. The whole “Sin Wagon” thing “O Lord, please forgive little ole me”…that was not a sincere plea, that was sarcasm. And their “mattress dancing” remark how clever…there is a difference between being bold and barrier breaking and being vulgar and distasteful, and the Chicks were “chip-on-their-shoulder” vulgar…that’s right I said vulgar!

    Ambassadors indeed…the Dixie Chicks are a disgrace.

    -Steve from Boston

  35. ArdiNo Gravatar

    Hi, all! Another first-timer here, and I’m from Indonesia. I just got into country music for the past two years, but country has now represented the biggest percentage of my music collection.

    Anyway, there’s this one program on one of our TV stations that focuses on country music. Basically some people just play country music on a stage while the others dance around to it. It mostly targets the adults though, and I personally used to regard that show as a joke. Ironically, now that I am deeply in love with country music, they don’t show that program anymore. :(

    I must say that country is not very popular here. It’s mainly about the older divas like Shania and Faith. Even Carrie is not that popular here. Alison Krauss is pretty popular among the audophiles fans, though. Needless to say, it’s so damn hard to find a country album here. Usually a store only has a combination of Shania, Faith, Reba, Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Keith Urban, Dixie Chicks and George Strait. Lame. Thus, I was ecstatic when I found Nickel Creek’s “This Side” over at the pop/rock section not too long ago!

    As for my three favorite artists for now, hm, that’d be kinda hard to decide. I’ll just go with one female solo, one male solo, and one band to make it easier. Thus, I’ll pick Trisha Yearwood, Gary Allan, and Dixie Chicks. Those three are some of the best out right now, IMO. They are not only incredibly talented, most of their material are top-notch as well. I think if they really give it a go, those three acts can help increase the interest on country music internationally.

  36. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar

    Steve F., we’ll just have to agree to disagree about the Chicks. I understand that you feel passionately about the subject. I’ll just point out that I am a country fan, and I am a fan of the Chicks. I’m also a fan of Toby Keith and Reba McEntire.

  37. The Dixie Chicks criticisms being made here are as uninteresting and undeveloped as they have been for the past five years. They are resurrected every time they are praised here, and they never accomplish their intended goal. It’s truly a waste of time.

  38. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Ardi,

    Great choices: Trisha Yearwood, Gary Allan and The Dixie Chicks. Of course, I also agree with Kevin’s submission of Vince Gill.

  39. Steve F.No Gravatar

    The Chicks are talented musicians, but to be put forward as “ambassadors” is ridiculous, in my opinion. They are undiplomatic, and diplomacy is the hallmark for ambassadorship. If the topic were only about their proficiency as musicians, I for one would have remained silent. But they were put forward as representatives of Country music to the world, and I want the world to know that they do not represent many of us. (Just like they wanted the British to know they were embarrased by President Bush being from Texas, I am embarrased that they are now seemingly considered ambassadors)

    Where are all the other dissenters? Have they been intimidated by the majority opinion here, or was there some mass reconciliation between the Chicks and the Country Music Community that I missed? If they have been conciliatory please tell me about it, because I do like a lot of their music.

    I could develop my arguments further, but perhaps the moderators would consider that to be “off topic”..I do not parrot old arguments Kevin. You may find them uninteresting, but I do think for myself, and came up with my points on my own. And once again, I am the minority voice, at least on this thread. I have been respectful towards those who differ with me on this issue, but I do not respect the actions and attitudes of the Dixie Chicks. Sure they have their right of free speech, but so do their detractors. I respectfully disagree with their supporters here.

    So a reminder of dissent is a “waste of time” is it? I thought the Dixie Chicks themselves were all about “free speech”.

    And even from a strictly musical point of view, what have the Dixie Chicks done for Country Music lately?, The genre they themselves repudiated. Again if have I missed something, please tell me.

    Kevin, I always respected you for encouraging a diversity of ideas here, and their free expression, but it seems something has changed. If you want to streamline this or other threads, is there another forum here for posting dissent? Or an email address? And judging by the name of this site, “Country Universe”, I would think you would be trying to encourage a diversity of opinion.

    Are the comments posted here by the moderators towards me meant as a warning to be silent on this matter? OK, I will be, unless invited to further “develop” my arguments. But it is ironic, is it not, considering what the artist in question is supposed to represent.

    -Steve from Boston

  40. swissarmyNo Gravatar

    thanks, leeann, et al. will try to go on the active side once in a while. =)

    i still haven’t listened to all of the dixie chicks songs, but from what i’ve listened to so far (their popular ones — not ready to make nice, landslide, top of the world, goodbye earl, cowboy take me away, etc.), they are a talented group no doubt. and i totally love their songs (no bad songs for me so far). needless to say, their fame and acclaim from any music genre back that up.

    they can be ambassadors of country. but from what i’ve read, it’s kinda sad that the group and the country business have sort of ‘disowned’ each other. good thing they’re still making music. musically (they really know how to use their instruments in creating great rhythms). and from their country catalog, in my opinion, it can promote what country music has to offer.

    on that note, i think i’m gonna take a look and listen to their whole discography. ^_^

  41. Steve F.No Gravatar

    Kevin, Leeann, I do understand your wish to avoid anyone sparking a whole new Dixie Chicks war, but I guess what I was trying to say in so many words was this: That by putting them forward as ambassadors, that is in itself provocative as well, and seems a dismissal of many of us who differ on this matter. Thanks for listening.

    -Steve

  42. Steve F.No Gravatar

    And a bit insensitive to many of us whom they have offended. (I wish there was an edit feature here, lol..I would have put it in my last post)

  43. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Steve,

    I’ll be very happy if you can honestly dispute this, but I really doubt that the current Bush supporters would have had a problem if Natalie had said something unflattering about President Clinton back when he was being impeached, even if it was said on foregn soil.

    So, like Lynn, I hope we can agree to disagree on the point of The Chicks VS. the President.

    As far as McGuire’s comment regarding country music fans, I can’t say that it didn’t bother me a bit. I’ll give you that. I’ll also say, however, that they have some good reasons to be very disenchanted with the vast majority of country music listeners. If I were them, I would be. One minute they’re loved and the next they’re reviled. People who once owned their CDs were burning them. I’d say that McGuire’s comments were pretty tame compared to what those fans did.

    I can’t speak for Kevin, but I’ve argued about the Dixie Chicks for so long that it’s tiring for me. It used to be kind of fun and interesting, but it bores me at this point. It’s not just your side that makes the same arguments, but those who support The Chicks tend to say the same things too. So, I agree with Kevin as far as the conversation has lost its flavor, because each side can pretty much anticipate what the other side will say. This, in no way, means that we’re trying to silence you. We’re just tired.

    I do have to speak to this point of yours though:

    “Where are all the other dissenters? Have they been intimidated by the majority opinion here, or was there some mass reconciliation between the Chicks and the Country Music Community that I missed? If they have been conciliatory please tell me about it, because I do like a lot of their music.”

    I really don’t think that Dixie Chicks dissenters are afraid to speak their minds, as evidenced by the radio censorship and CD burnings. If anything, those who supported The Chicks were definitely going out on a limb to defend them for a couple of years. They were called unpatriotic, terrorist sympathizers or worse.

    It’s also too bad that you chose to lump all of us moderators together here. Because you didn’t agree with what Kevin said, you accused all of us of trying to silence you. Lynn simply asked yu to agree to disagree and Blake, Dan and I didn’t even respond to your comment at all. I didn’t respond for the reason stated above: I’m just tired of arguing about it. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, but I’ve gone around about the topic so many times that it’s old to me now. Morover, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t exactly convinced anyone with my arguments. Nobody has said, “You know, Leean, I never really thought about it that way. I guess I was needlessly ticked about all of that.” No. It just seems that both sides stay at the same place regarding this controversy.

  44. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    How dumb am I? I just spelled my own name wrong!:)

    Steve, looking back at the comments, I can see why you thought I was dismissing your comment by not addressing it, but agreeing with another commenter that The Chicks would be good ambassadors. I was simply referring to his comment, because I thought he had made good choices. It was not intended to be a dismissal of your thoughts; I hadn’t even finished mentally processing your extensive comment at the time of my comment to Ardi. Furthermore, I didn’t know if I wanted to comment for the reasons that I stated above. I’m sorry for slighting you, though it truly was unintentional. I think I was just hoping to avoid the topic, because believe it or not, I hate to discuss politics. I am an avid politics follower, but I really don’t like arguing about it, just like religion.

    I will say that I really doubt that The Chicks have any desire to be ambassadors for country music at this point. So, you’re probably safe.:)

  45. Swissarmy,

    You make the crucial distinction: they’ve disowned the country business, not the music itself. It’s difficult to break the two apart in many minds, given the close association between what is played on radio/honored at the CMA/ACM’s and what’s considered country music.

    The irony is that at the height of the crossover boom, the Chicks were the strongest flag-wavers for country music, country radio and the country industry. They’ve made clear that they want nothing to do with the last two, but just by making great country music, they make the genre look good.

    You play a person interested in country music a Dixie Chicks album, you’re a lot more likely to get a fan for the genre than if you play most other artists, because the music is both accessible and artistically significant, while also being distinctively country.

    I wasn’t trying to be provocative by picking them. I actually do play the Chicks, Vince and Trisha to people curious about the music, because they all make music that is of high quality and incorporates the best elements of other genres while also remaining distinctively country.

    Given that the question was who should represent country music internationally, the political dimension of Maines’ comments is irrelevant, as the only people who care about that are inside of America. I wouldn’t expect her to play at the Republican National Convention, though quite frankly, those poor convention-goers deserved better than John Rich. That was just cruel.

  46. Honestly, Steve, I’ve never shied away from confessing that I find Natalie Maines’ personality fairly annoying (at least based on what I’ve seen of it in interviews and the Chicks’ documentary), though I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it on this site. As any other kind of ambassador, she probably wouldn’t be one of my picks, simply because I’m not a fan of how she sometimes expresses herself (regardless of her political views). But from a musical standpoint, I think the Chicks’ output has been mostly outstanding and clearly country – that’s what I based my choice on.

  47. Steve F.No Gravatar

    Leeann, thank you once again engaging me directly, and so respectfully. I would like to clarify though. I was mostly referring to the comments of Kevin and Lynn, when I mentioned the “moderators”. I realize that Dan and Blake had not commented on this subject, at least when I made my posts. So I didn’t mean to lump everyone together.

    But in light of the newly stated posting policy, when a moderator says to “agree to disagree” I interpret that as a diplomatic warning to end further comments on the subject, and a warning not to go “off topic”.

    That combined with what I considered Kevin’s very dismissive comment on the points I was trying to make, instead of addressing them on their merits, really made me feel I was on the verge of being silenced.

    But I understand now where everyone was coming from. Seems you all have had this debate before, and were understandably weary of it.

    I appreciate the well stated clarifications made here about the Chicks representing the art form of Country music very well, even though they may not be the best spokespeople, per se. I agree, they are real talented, and real Country sounding for the most part.

    But I think Dan especially, hit the nail on the head regarding the offensive way Natalie Maines expresses herself at times. And that is what is more offensive to me than any political differences I may have with them.

    But I differ from many in that I really need to like and respect the artist, in order to fully enjoy their music, or to recommend them to others. I am hoping the Chicks will still make overtures towards the fans they have alienated, but I haven’t seen it yet. Please correct me if I’m wrong on this, because I am a former fan of theirs. I know they feel betrayed as well, but the CM Industry has reached out to them with nominations, articles and reviews, etc.

    Leeann, I do think many Bush supporters would be critical of the Chicks had they attacked ANY sitting president while speaking on foreign soil. At least the thoughtful ones.

    And any who threatened the DSs are ugly minded criminals, pure and simple. They do our point of view no service.

    The high profile dissent expressed by those critical of the Chicks, has been largely on other forums and venues. The steamrollers, etc. I just was not seeing anything critical of them here, so I felt compelled to speak out vigorously, not to be quarrelsome, but because of my deeply held convictions. Believe it or not, I don’t like to argue, lol…and I too, am TIRED, lol. More than happy to have others speak for the loyal opposition, but I just didn’t see it happening.

    Thanks for listening. I appreciate you all.

    -Steve from Boston

  48. Steve F.No Gravatar

    Oh, Leeann, in my post 41, I mistakenly said your name, but it was Lynn’s post 36 I was referring to. Sorry for the mix up!

  49. RonNo Gravatar

    I don’t know why, but I guess Mandopop and Korean/Japanese pop are the way to go over here. One thing I’ve always loved and came to appreciate in country music is that a lot of the songs you guys make are story-oriented, with a theme I can always relate to. They aren’t just generic love songs; I really love the fact that country music covers a whole range of issues, often times in very specific circumstances and in great detail (”Every Other Weekend” by Reba & Kenny Chesney is one of my favs), and I love listening and following the story like as if I’m really living it.

  50. Hi and greetings from Athens, Greece.
    There is a small but growing community of greeks who love Country music.
    Take a look here:
    http://www.countrymusic.gr/
    We have our own CMA and we re organizing a country festival every summer. This years edition was the 6th one, where John Berry has performed.

    If I have to write my favorite artist I would write a very very long post so I am ending this here.
    Greetings to all and nice to found you.

    C.T.

  51. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Steve,

    I assure you that we won’t be so “diplomatic” if we want to silence someone. “Agree to disagree” isn’t code for anything regarding our comment policy. We’ll be direct if we intend to warn anyone.

    As far as The Chicks, I really don’t want to get into it, as I’ve already explained. So, I won’t. I should say, however, that I’m glad you stick around, despite our differences of opinion. I’m sure we’ve lost plenty of Dixie Chicks dissenters over time. As you know, there are plenty of people who feel your way, but many of them likely stay away from this site at this point and go to sites that validate their viewpoints. I won’t pretend that it’s not what I often tend to do myself. I will say that most sites have a bias toward and against certain artists, themes and tone. It’s what gives each blog its individual personality. The tone that Kevin has set here is what drew me to this blog in the first place. His blog is the very first site that I dared to comment on, to be honest. I recognize, however, that it may not work for everyone.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of things that we do agree on, which is why I’m grateful you are a part of our community.

    I’m sorry if this post doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I’m in a hurry.

    By the way, I’m working on an album review that I personally recommend to you. It has wonderful elements of that traditional sound that we both love. Watch for it.:)

  52. HelenNo Gravatar

    Great topic

    I’m from Ireland. I suppose country music is semi popular over here…Garth, Shania and Faith were all played on our main stations. Generally though, it’s the smaller stations who have slots of an hour or two for country music.

    I never really ‘got’ music until I found country music. I listened to other genres but I never connected. I remember seeing the Chicks on a tv show (probably in 03) and I thought they were cool…I bought Fly but I don’t remember really listening to it (something I really regret now as it delayed my love for the chicks, and also country music, by more than 3 years!)

    Dolly Parton is definitely the most famous artist who is currently touring. I went to see her last year and she played four more shows here and in the North this year also.

    If I were to pick three country acts who are well known over here to further promote country music it would be
    Dolly
    Garth
    Shania.

    However, if I were to pick three (four?!) who I think would have the best chance of converting more and more fans to country music it would be

    The Dixie Chicks
    Carrie U
    Sugarland
    Brad Paisley

    But I suppose that’s probably more a ‘personal preference’ list than an ‘objective’ list.

    As for the comments made on the chicks…I think they would be great ambassadors for country music outside of America….just look at their success in Canada and Australia. As someone from outside the US, and a big fan of the chicks, I know about the controversy and what was said and done by both sides to contribute to it and it hasn’t changed my opinion of them. And I think that would be the way a lot of fans around the world would feel. They are three women who play and sing beautifully, are wonderful mothers and are not afraid to stand up for themselves.

    I agree completely with you Steve about needing to like and respect the artist. For me, I like and respect the chicks. At first I wasn’t sure about Natalie…it took me a little longer to warm to her than the other two. But now I think I understand her personality more.

    Another thing I like about this site is the fact that it is ‘chick friendly’. I love to read positive posts from people about the chicks other than the ones i read on chicks’ boards. But also, for those who don’t like the chicks (which is their right) the points that are made are fair and well reasoned and there’s no bashing for the sake of bashing.

    And I also agree with Leanne that, even with all the debate about the chicks, no one really changes their opinion…

    Swiss army: you definitely should check out the Chick’s discography…you won’t be disappointed!

    Great to so many other internationals on the site…

  53. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar

    Steve F. Just for the record, I wasn’t trying to dismiss your concerns or shut you up. I simply realized by your post that we could argue all day long about the Chicks and never see eye to eye. Given the language you used, I also realized it wasn’t going to be a very pretty conversation. Hence, I felt it was safer to agree to disagree. Like you, I’m not a huge fan of arguing. Debating, yes. Arguing fruitlessly about a topic we’ll never agree on, no. :) I hope you stick around.

    Also for the record, I don’t find Natalie offensive at all. She’s human, she’s real, she’s opinionated, she’s a concerned citizen, she’s stuck her foot in her mouth a million times…and I relate to that. She was also massively hurt by the reaction in ’03 because her intent was truly never to hurt or offend anyone. I took a lot of her comments in ’06 with a grain of salt as a result. I think she’s suffered beyond what you and I can possibly imagine. I can’t imagine fearing for my safety on a daily basis or walking into a room, my kid’s school, the grocery store, etc. and believe that everyone hated me. I can’t even fathom what that does for the psyche. Maybe some wish that upon her, but I simply hope she finds peace (which she seems to have done recently) and comes back with some great music.

    Again, welcome to all the international posters! It’s awesome to have you. Even if you disagree, never be afraid to post!

  54. Lynn makes a terrific point about Natalie Maines, and I want to respond for a second by clarifying that my comment about her annoying public persona was not meant to be some sort of character attack. I don’t know the woman in person, and I’m not oblivious to the fact that stars often say things in front of a camera that they wish they wouldn’t have, especially when they’re under the kind of stress she is. I just don’t go nuts when there’s a Chicks interview on T.V., for the exact same reason I don’t go nuts when there’s a Toby Keith interview on (not to perpetuate their “rivalry” or whatever).

  55. It always amazes me that more big name artists don’t promote their albums and tour abroad. Brooks & Dunn went on a tour of Australia earlier this year.

  56. HelenNo Gravatar

    I agree with everything you said about Natalie in your last post Lynn…your summary of her is spot on in my opinion.

    I also hope that she finds peace…and i definitely hope they come back with some great music!

  57. JarheadDadNo Gravatar

    She was also massively hurt by the reaction in ‘03 because her intent was truly never to hurt or offend anyone. I took a lot of her comments in ‘06 with a grain of salt as a result. I think she’s suffered beyond what you and I can possibly imagine. I can’t imagine fearing for my safety on a daily basis

    Except for the Marines laying on those berms waiting to go back into Fallujah and having the muj PSYOPS play Ms. Maines comments over and over and over and over ad nauseum. But what the hey? She was in great company with Murtha, Reid, Pelosi, Kennedy, et al. Funny what games can be played with words eh? No biggie. Right?

    I think the overreaction to all of that was way over the top. I do believe if Ms. Maines wasn’t pandering to an anti-American crowd on foreign soil nothing would’ve erupted. Contrary to what you might think. We value our dissenters in this country. As long as they are dissenting here. I know it wouldn’t have even made my radar screen if Natalie was in Texas bashing Bush. It’d have just been another celebrity endorsement that I’ve come to know and love. :-o

    I still love the Chicks’ music. Still play it. Only the old stuff though. Something about that whole “Not Ready To Make Nice” thing creates an adverse reaction in me. Go figure huh?! “Travellin’ Soldier” was one of the best war songs ever written. I so love “Cold Day In July” as well. Frankly I feel an apology is owed by Maines and it’ll never happen. Not to the President but to others that were doing their duty on orders while being force fed her big mouth. As such I’ll never spend another dime supporting them. I do get a chuckle out of the whole “she’s suffered more than you and I can imagine” defense though. Wanna’ bet? Sorry, it’s just so ironic to me that I can’t help it! “I can’t imagine fearing for my safety on a daily basis”? What’s that song by The Beatles? “I get by with a little help from my friends”? Thanks for nuthin’! Heh!

    Oh well, a total effort in futility this argument is. As far as the music goes there’s no doubt about the Chicks’ credentials. Their music is first rate and glaringly country even if they repudiate it. You can take the girl out of the country but…… As to their being “ambassadors” for country music internationally? Quite possibly. They’re lauded as heroes in most parts of the world and the EU in particular. Just not by a large portion of their own countrymen. Funny how that works.

    What do you think the chances would be of the international crowd getting into Patty Loveless singing the classics? Probably slim. The most recognizable outside our borders are Shania, Garth, The Chicks, Faith, and Dolly.

    “The Dixie Chicks criticisms being made here are as uninteresting and undeveloped as they have been for the past five years. They are resurrected every time they are praised here, and they never accomplish their intended goal. It’s truly a waste of time.”

    In other words Kevin, Chicks dissenters not welcome? Hmmmm, well that’s not very neighborly of you! Heh! I don’t think I’ve seen a dissenting Chicks opinion since I’ve been reading this site actually. I’ve had a taste of what the early dissenting viewpoint used to be like around here so maybe I missed them before they got gone? But I haven’t been here all that long.

    Understood about folks seeking sites with like minds Leeann. I tend to hang with the milblog community among “my” people. I love to read this site and The 9513 for the music, insight, reviews, and the new artists I pick up. I totally understand that 99% of these sites lean left. Some so far left they are in danger of falling off the edge of the earth but I’ve learned to stick to the music for the most part. Occasionally something pops up like this one where it’s necessary to make a comment but for the most part I leave all the political stuff to y’all. Everyone on the planet knows exactly where I stand on that so what’s the point of arguing about it? Just like arguing about the Chicks eh? ;-)

    “Words and Music Wordman. Words and Music”! :-)

  58. JarHead,

    It’s a distortion of what I said to rephrase it as “Chicks dissenters not welcome.” It’s quite easy for me to delete comments, and I would do that if I wanted to shut down conversation. The dissenters need a few new lines of argument, though. It’s the same one-liners they’ve been using for the past five years.

  59. KennyNo Gravatar

    The only true global internationl act widespread around the world is Shania.
    The 3 most well known around the world are
    Shania,Dolly and Johnny Cash.

    Others have had modest success in some countries like Faith Hill,Lean Rimes,Garth Brooks and the dixie chicks.
    But their international success is very small. As an example the chicks when they toured Europre played in small venues and have had to real hits there.
    Garth had success in Ireland and some in the U.K. and some in Australia but nothing great. Faith Hill has sold practically nothing outside of the States and she has had a few modest hits overseas but none crack the top 10.

    Shania on the other hand has has massive hits,sales and tours all over the world and is far and beyond the biggest international country artist. Her COME ON OVER album alone sold 38 million worldwide and topped charts all over the world.

    So Shania,Dolly and Johnny Cash are the most universally known country acts.

  60. KennyNo Gravatar

    Could I just comment on the Dixie chicks, they really have not had much international success. They toured Europe in very small venues and didn’t have any hits in Europe to speak of. I don’t think they could be ambassdors of anything since they have a very small fanbase outside of North America.

  61. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Kenny,

    I don’t know if that’s true, but I must applaud you on leaving Shania out of that comment. Well done, Sir.

  62. KennyNo Gravatar

    Leeann, actually it is true, you can go back and look at their tour stats and what songs they released overseas.None of them were big hits and they toured in 1000 seat venues. In Australia they had more people but nothing great.
    I am just pointing out that the Chicks are not big international acts, they have a small country following but didn’t make the mainstream that big.

  63. JarheadDadNo Gravatar

    Well, your word is good with me so I’ll take you at it. Reading that sure did not sound very friendly to dissenting opinions though. I can honestly see where Steve from Boston got the idea he was about to get slammed. Distortion? I think not. Misunderstood? Yeah.

    Like I said, I take you at your word that that was not your meaning.

    Kenny? Are you Jake or am I missing something?

  64. KennyNo Gravatar

    jarheaddad, I am the one and only Jake just telling it like it is.

  65. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar

    From a post that Kevin published in 2004:

    Martina McBride:

    “I don’t feel the need to talk about politics. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing, but I was raised where your political party is kind of private. It’s nobody’s business.

    There was an article in the Denver paper where a reporter had put me in company with some artists as being Republican because I played a benefit concert that was for families of fallen soldiers. I played it because I thought it was a good thing, and they raised over $2 million. It doesn’t matter what political party you believe in, we support our soldiers that are doing their job. But because (conservative commentator) Sean Hannity was involved in the concert, I got written up as being a Republican.

    I do think, though, that artists have as much right to talk about politics as anyone else. I separate people’s music from their political views. This is America, and people should be able to say what they want, and people should listen to it with some tolerance.

    If you don’t like what somebody says onstage, then fine: say, ”I don’t agree with that. That was a bad move.” Then go home, have dinner with your family and get on with your life. It’s amazing that we live in a time where somebody’s comments can make someone so incensed that they walk out of a show. I think that’s appalling.”

    I’m also from a small, midwestern town and echo these sentiments. I won’t add to the arguments above, but will note that I believe it was (and still is) ridiculous to waste valuable time and energy on outwardly hating a relatively insignificant act (in this case, Maines’ comment about Bush). If you disagree with her statement, feel free to cease supporting her career. The hours spent on anger and violence could have been used more productively (as McBride said). Mistakes have been made on both sides of the fence, so any further discussion about it is likely futile. I for one believe them to be amazingly talented musicians, and the rest is not as important. I feel we’d all agree that we much more important things to tend to.

  66. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar

    Nice quote Blake. I particularly like the last paragraph. I miss the time in our country when we could disagree politically and still be friends.

    Jarheaddad, I just wanted to add that I in no way intended to diminish the fear and suffering of military families or those who have recently lost their jobs or all others who are suffering to a greater degree. I simply wanted to point out that for all those who wanted Natalie to suffer, I think she has (mentally) in ways that maybe aren’t visible to the general public or the average country fan. (Also, although not an obvious apology, she did express her love and support for the military in multiple interviews in ’06 and on-stage in every concert in ’03.)

    I also feel you on feeling like an “outsider” most of the time. You read the blogs although you perceive they lean way left. I listen to country music although I perceive it leans way right. It’s great that we both feel that the music is really the most important thing and keep coming back for that in the end.

    Kenny, this thread wasn’t intended to be about who was already big overseas, but who, if you had the choice, you would want to represent the genre.

  67. I’m not trying to stir the pot further or anything, but I would like to comment on this:

    “I won’t add to the arguments above, but will note that I believe it was (and still is) ridiculous to waste valuable time and energy on outwardly hating a relatively insignificant act (in this case, Maines’ comment about Bush). If you disagree with her statement, feel free to cease supporting her career. The hours spent on anger and violence could have been used more productively (as McBride said).”

    I agree with what Blake said here, but in the interest of being extremely clear – since obviously, this issue is sensitive for many of us all over the political spectrum – I want to submit that it doesn’t sound to me like anyone who’s commented here has really engaged in any extraneous anger and violence toward Natalie Maines (though maybe I missed a comment). I don’t think it’s wrong to outwardly disagree with a political comment or its delivery – especially if, in JarHead’s case, you’re getting slammed over the head with the comment for whatever reason – as long as you do it in a reasonable, civil manner (and, as Martina put quite well, don’t let it consume your life).

    If we were to suggest that that’s wrong, or even dismiss someone else’s attempt to do it as a “waste of time,” most of us at Country Universe would have a lot to answer for, having recently commented extensively on what might be considered outlandish statements and artistic works by John Rich and Buddy Jewell, among others. The only point Kevin was making is that it does no service to you or the conversation to parrot the same ad hominem remarks that have been made for five years, just as it does no service to, say, repeatedly compare current artists to one of your favorites on every single thread. I guess my point is that I hope no one feels like their opinion has been invalidated just by reason of its angle, because I don’t think that’s what anyone means to suggest here.

    So, yeah. I just wanted to be clear on that, because it would really bug me if people felt like this blog was only open to one viewpoint. There are no Big Brothers at Country Universe.

  68. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar

    Yes, Dan, absolutely. The “outwardly hating” references not the discussion here, but the blatant behavior of those who acted in frustration at that point and continue to hold a grudge. I like McBride’s sentiment about sitting down at the supper table and putting it past you, regardless of your feelings.

    This is a public forum, and I believe we’re all here to entertain a healthy dialogue despite our different viewpoints. Disagreements are expected. I don’t concur with every single review of my fellow writers, but they provide ample evidence on their opinions. If mutual disagreement is decided, that’s great. Let’s just decide it. That’s human interaction. That’s life.

    For the record, I believe Natalie had every right to speak her piece and feel that many reactions were extreme, even though people had the same right to disagree and take fault with her words. but she hasn’t always exhibited class or even extreme intelligence in thoughts and words in public venues. But I know that I’m guilty of the same. I would just be that much more careful in that type of setting. Musical ambassadors, yes. Social ambassadors, eh. Steve made some very good points that were also mentioned by Dan about Maines in particular not expressing her quite so well and with less than a full amount of tact, which is a true sign of an ambassador. And I’m glad that Jarhead continues to listen to their music despite his feelings on them. I’ve heard a number of true to semi-true stories about artists that have not significantly affected my appreciation for their music. I’m not sure that Natalie and the girls would be the greatest of friends by any stretch, but I think Home is a masterpiece.

    But, really, all of my comments today were because I wanted to join in a “two sides to every story” post. Everybody loves Patty Loveless. Let’s agree on that!

  69. Ew, Patty Loveless? More like…Patty Talentless.

    Oooooooooh snap! Sorry guys, I have a middle school sense of humor. :)

  70. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar

    That’s because you were in middle school five minutes ago.

  71. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    I agree with Dan’s post (#67). I wouldn’t want people to feel as though we’re trying to snuff out opposing viewpoints.

    JarHead, you know I really like you and get your twisted sense of humor.:) Steve F, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our conversations regarding the traditional side of country music. So, I definitely want you guys to stick around and appreciate your frequent contributions to the conversations around here.

    But, c’mon Blake, I don’t know if I can support your comment that you don’t agree with everything that the other writers at CU write! Really? How can that be?:)

  72. “That’s because you were in middle school five minutes ago.”

    Yup. But I only got out so late because Mr. Coyne gave me detention again.

  73. SpencerNo Gravatar

    Hope the folks here won’t mind if I go back to the original question. I’m from the States, and my 3 ambassadors would be:

    Sugarland – I think they’ve got loads of talent and the type of winning, outgoing personalities that really draw people in. I know they may be too pop-country for many, but they’re the act who turned me from a casual country listener to one who started seeking it out regularly (both new and traditional).

    Dierks Bentley – Even though he’s listed in the article, I’m a little surprised he hasn’t been mentioned much by others. Great music, charisma, and good looks would pique a lot of people’s curiosity. Also, I think he’d be a terrific ambassador because he is, in a way, already one, and he really seems to relish the opportunity. France and Scandinavia are certainly off-the-beaten-path country music tour sites (at least for an act of his current stature), and I read he’s performing in Japan too, which seems even further off and not just geographically. With so many road and travel themes in his music and his quotes in interviews, I get the sense he appreciates getting to head to a foreign culture almost as much as he likes sharing and marketing his music to a different type of audience.

    Alison Krauss – Her voice alone makes people to perk up their ears, and hopefully they’ll like what they hear. The fact that so many diverse musicians have wanted to work with her shows how widespread her appeal is too, and I think her music would translate well across cultures.

    I guess my choices are not exclusively based on music alone (even though I’m a fan of all three). They might not be entirely representative of what the genre is, but I think they’d be successful at introducing different parts of the world to country music and maybe turning them into active listeners.

  74. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Spencer, Great points about Dierks.

  75. JarheadDadNo Gravatar

    I wish the world was a perfect place and entertainers entertained but that’s not the case. I love music and it is an escape for me. I hate it when all kinds of political junk starts becoming attached to the music. If it’s someone like a Steve Earle where going in you know what you’re going to get then fine. It’s the ones that reach a modicum level of success that all of a sudden become experts on da werld and everything in it that drive me right up the wall.

    Of course folks have a right to their opinion. Lots of men have died to give them that right. But along with that opinion comes the consequences of it. I don’t have to like it but I’ll damn sure give my life for you to have it! I also don’t have to buy your stuff if I don’t agree with what you have to say.

    I give you Springsteen as an example. I remember going to one of his concerts, probably at least the 20th we had attended, and all of a sudden the preaching began. I don’t remember seeing a political convention speech anywhere on my ticket when I bought it so we left. And left him since that time. There’s MY freedom of choice! And we grew up listening to him when he was still playing bars. I also still listen to his older music. I have a tendency to freeze frame the time period of what I see as an offense and refuse to support from that point forward. Call me a time warp!

    Personally, after the life I’ve led I’d just as soon have some fun. I look at life in a fairly twisted way but most always with a sense of humor. I like my music to be unencumbered and free of politics unless I so choose to go there. Some of the greatest songs in history are political in nature but they were always out front about it. Now that I like. Even if I don’t agree with the point of view I’ll give props to the writing and the music if I know going in what I’m going to be treated to. And it’s worth a flip. Once ambushed I do hold a grudge. And I can hold a grudge for a real, real, real long time. Heh!

    Steve Earle is a classic example of what I’m talking about. We are at absolute opposite ends of the political spectrum but he’s always been right up front about who he is and where he’s coming from. I can respect that as long as it doesn’t cross a certain line. Hence, I support his music. I don’t think we’d ever buy each other a beer in a bar but I can totally respect his music and position. It’s honest. And not cheap.

    It’s not what your political persuasion is that matters to me but more how you bring that persuasion across. Challenge me and things get ugly in a hurry. State your case honestly and I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Attack and smear will open a door no one really wants to go through. I always try to treat people with civility. Right up to the point where I don’t. Yeah, I’m sarcastic but it is almost always more of a satirical sarcasm based in humor. Twisted humor but humor nonetheless. If I’m pickin’ on ya’ then I feel you’re worth the effort. Your mileage may vary! ;-)

    Some things are pretty much cut and dried with no room for compromise. Yes Virginia, there are things that are black and white with no shades of gray! And they should be. Etched in stone! How we treat each other should be one of those but it’s not. In this anything goes society where sedition is the call of the day things have gotten out of whack. I’d just prefer it not to cross over into the music and artists that are not based in the political realm. If it does I write it/them off. Period. Again, music should be a sort of escape and touch you in one way or another. Tell a story that just gets you where it matters. That has always been country music for me. I don’t need a bunch of baggage to go with it.

    Just my two cents. My heart is hurtin’ right now and I have a tendency to get all introspective and stuff when that happens. In other words; ramblin’! ;-) Y’all can take or leave what I have to say as you see fit. Just an old fart’s opinion.

    “I also feel you on feeling like an “outsider” most of the time. You read the blogs although you perceive they lean way left. I listen to country music although I perceive it leans way right. It’s great that we both feel that the music is really the most important thing and keep coming back for that in the end.”

    Yeah Lynn, it’s always been a pretty funny mix. I actually find it an oxymoron for the most part. The average country music fan is generally conservative. Not so much hard core but fairly conservative. The term “hick” is thrown around here like it’s a bad thing but they’ve always been the most loving and honest people I know. Very little deceptive nature in their makeup. Not so with the media end of the genre. They’ve always been pretty liberal in both thought and socially. It’s been a fun, albeit volatile, mix to watch. One side doesn’t understand how someone could view their artist’s music in a certain light and the other cannot understand the fan base to begin with. I get a kick out of watching the two meet.

    But then I’m easily amused! :-o

  76. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar

    JarheadDad, you’re awesome.

    I agree with the Dierks comments as well. Plus, he’s performed at both Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo in the last couple years, along with assorted other “offbeat” concert venues/events. A real road warrior. Keep comin’ back, Spencer!

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  78. I am a songwriter from ALABAMA,and trying to get my songs out there youtube “Moving to Cullman,”It’s about my mom who is battling cancer. I have tons of songs written ,but I wrote this one recently for her… check me out on youtube

  79. RoumenNo Gravatar

    Greetings from Bulgaria!
    In recent years Shania Twain and Faith Hill have gained a lot of popularity here.
    My personal favorite however is John Denver – brilliant poet and musician.

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