Introducing Tara Seetharam

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April 21, 2009

It is my distinct honor and pleasure to introduce the newest writer for Country Universe, Tara Seetharam. As you'll soon discover, we are quite blessed to have her. On behalf of the Country Universe staff, please join me in welcoming Tara! – Kevin J. Coyne

Hi all! It is such a thrill to step foot into this community of talented and well-versed writers. I am humbled and can’t thank the staff enough for graciously taking me in.

I graduated about a year ago from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism, and I am currently residing in Houston and working in corporate communications. Writing and music are two of my greatest joys in life, so the opportunity to use this site as a medium to interlace the two is an absolute blessing.

When I tell people that I live and breathe country music, I’m almost always met with surprise. Some are better at hiding it than others, but I typically receive an inquisitive stare, a “Really?” or a confused smile. It leads to about 20 seconds of awkwardness, with me trying to sum up my passion for the genre in an eloquent explanation, and generally failing. Because quite frankly, how do you prove to a near stranger that yes, an Indian-American can love country music from the depths of her soul?

I suppose I’m not the typical Indian-American. Both my parents are of Indian descent, but while my dad moved to the U.S. as a teenager, my mom moved here as a young child – making my sister and I “second-and-a-half” generation Indian-Americans. My mom was a country fan herself growing up in the U.S., and she in turn filled our home with all sorts of country music when I was a child. I have the sweetest memories of the two of us singing along to The Judds' Why Not Me album on repeat, day after day. My mom never made me feel like it was anything but normal to adore country music from the inside out. She never made me feel like my skin color had to match the skin color of the country artists I idolized. And why should it?

You see, to me, as much as country music seems to be about traditionalism, it’s more so about universal truths – about love and family, heartache and despair, faith and persistence. You don’t necessarily have to relate to the story to relate to the raw emotion of a country song. The best country songs are sung with such conviction and such honesty that you just get it. The most poignant country songs stop me dead in my tracks every time I hear them, because I can’t seem to disconnect my emotions from the songs.

And to be honest, I couldn’t feel out of place in country music even if I tried, as there are few things in this world that are more intrinsic to me. I remember the first time I heard Vince Gill’s “If You Ever Have Forever in Mind,” thinki

ng that it immediately felt like “home”. Like I had found an extension of myself in the song. It sounds melodramatic, but it's so true, and it is this very intimate, personal quality of country music that keeps me coming back for more.

My taste in country music ranges from traditional to mainstream, from George Jones and Johnny Cash to Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban. I have a deep respect for the country greats, but I have a particular soft spot for artists who can skillfully walk the balance beam between traditional and mainstream, like the older (but never forgotten!) Dixie Chicks.

And I even enjoy many of the genre-stretching contemporary artists who haven't quite mastered this balancing act. I'm in the minority of people who see the fusion of old and new in the country music industry as intriguing and, well…fabulous. Artistic integrity comes in many forms, and I firmly believe that it can even come in the form of commercially successful artists.

Because if there’s anything I’ve learned from the inquisitive stares, “Really?”s and confused smiles I receive on occasion, it’s that, in this world so rich with contradiction, you have to learn to scrap assumptions. It’s so important to savor every piece of music by searching not for its definition but for its unique contribution, or you’ll prevent yourself from catching moments of artistic brilliance (Reba McEntire's 2007 collaboration with Justin Timberlake? Stunning.).

This goes all ways, of course, but what I think I have an ear for, and what I hope to bring to this site, are the “gems” of mainstream country music. I'm going to humbly strive to bring a fresh perspective, one that you might not always agree with, but that comes from a place of sincerity.

Which brings me to my greatest hope for my journey with Country Universe – that I stay true to who I am. I spent much of my college career feeling that I needed to think a certain way in order to fit the music journalist mold, but I can’t pretend to be someone I’m not. I don’t hate country radio. I appreciate pop culture. I’m an award show junkie. And I’ll tell you right now, with no shame, that my favorite song is “Bless the Broken Road” (I'll take it in any form, by any artist). I want to offer this site unapologetic authenticity, because that's what good country music never fails to offer me.

So with that said, a huge, heartfelt thank you goes out once again to Kevin and the staff for welcoming me with open arms. More than anything, and I can’t stress this enough, I am looking forward to learning from this astute community of writers and readers. To steal liberally from Ms. Carrie Underwood: “It is my belief that country music makes the world a better place.” And ain't that the truth?

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  1. bobbyNo Gravatar says:

    Welcome! I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

  2. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    …I think I feel an inferiority complex coming on. :)

    Seriously, fantastic intro, Tara.

  3. Kevin J. CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    Willie Nelson once sang, “Miracles appear in the strangest of places.” Tara appeared in my e-mail box, asking if I’d be interested in her doing a guest piece, and linking to two articles she’d written in college.

    My first instinct after reading them was to ask her to join the staff, but kept that thought to myself, and I passed the e-mail on to the other writers, who came to the same conclusion.

    Suffice it to say that we’re very happy she accepted our invitation!

  4. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Ha. I’m with Dan.:) Actually, the good thing is that I always admire people who are better than me.

    Welcome!

  5. TrailerNo Gravatar says:

    Cool. I’m looking forward to reading your work. Heartful debut!

  6. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I should add that this is an incredible introduction, though I’m not surprised.

    And, of course, score for the Vince shout out!

  7. CMWNo Gravatar says:

    Welcome, Tara. It’ll be interesting to have a new voice in the mix.

  8. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar says:

    Oh my goodness – you guys don’t know how many times I re-read your intros, trying to figure out how to live up to them! Thank you so much for the kind words.

  9. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar says:

    Me three on the inferiority complex…but I’ve learned to live with Kevin, Dan and Leeann, so I can deal with one more! ;)

    But seriously, welcome to a site full of writers who aren’t necessarily the so-called “stereotypical” country music fans, but love it perhaps more so as a result.

    And just remember that when you write your first bad review and people essentially tell you that you are the worst person ever … we are here for you!

    (And for the record, I’m a big fan of “Bless the Broken Road” as well, but I do care who is singing it…)

  10. Greg MNo Gravatar says:

    At this rate, I think I could be a writer for this site in about 10 years. ;)

    Congrats Tara.

  11. GabyNo Gravatar says:

    Welcome Tara! I look forward to reading your future contributions, and general country music love. What a great combination of voices this site brings. Way to go guys.

  12. dudleyNo Gravatar says:

    Welcome, Tara! I must say it gives me extra pleasure to see a fellow Indian-American country music fan. I’ve enjoyed my share of inquisitive stares and “Really?” responses, so I can relate to you a bit on that front.

    What a cool introduction. It’s great to have yet another CU writer with both an engaging passion for music (and music discussion) and an engaging skill in writing.

  13. LeeNo Gravatar says:

    HI TARA!! I agree with everything you said!! cant wait to read more from you!! (Judds fan myself!)

  14. Dave GarlockNo Gravatar says:

    Well, I’ve seen Tara’s thoughtful writing at UT for some time. She is too modest to talk about a business plan she produced in college for my class, called COUNTRY GLOSSY. Tara is smart, a beautiful writer and an insighful person. I can’t wait to read her frequent comments.

  15. Chris D.No Gravatar says:

    Great intro- I can’t wait to see what you’ll write! Congrats!

  16. Matt BNo Gravatar says:

    Great Intro…Any fan of a Marcus Hummon song is a friend of mine! ;)

  17. Lena ParekhNo Gravatar says:

    Tara, I am so thrilled for you to do this! As a family friend, I have seen you grow up with music – your mom’s passion for country music and your dad’s for Indian. With this kind of background, I am not surprised that you live and breathe music but mostly country music. However, I am very much with what Lynn Douglas said earlier. Readers will be unforgiving and critical of what you write of course. But then, that means they are paying close attention to what you have to say! Good luck and Congrats to the biggest CU fan I know!

  18. JuliNo Gravatar says:

    Indian-American country music lovers unite! And here I thought I was the only one…

  19. BradyNo Gravatar says:

    Great introduction, Tara. Everyone’s already said everything better than I could have, so I’ll just say welcome and I’m looking forward to your contributions. Hook ‘em!

  20. HubbaNo Gravatar says:

    my favorite quote about music critics comes from GK Chesterton who said that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” but I still read music critiques so welcome and good luck!

  21. MelNo Gravatar says:

    Nice intro, Tara. You have a big fan base here in the DFW Metroplex. Excited to read your writeups and learning more about “Country Universe”

  22. I was introduced to country music by an ex boyfriend who really liked this type of music but he wouldn’t let others know that he liked it because he was worried what his friends would think. Funny how men are? This is the first that I have heard of Tara, one really only hears of the happening artist at the time like now its Carrie Underwood, but it would be nice to hear your music and judge for myself if I like it or not.

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