I don’t listen to Kacey Musgraves, mostly because I don’t really listen to much country music. And that’s what Kacey is – a country singer. You could argue that she’s a crossover artist, and I would probably agree with that, but to be a crossover artist, your feet need to be firmly planted in one genre, thus enabling you to “crossover” into another genre. She’s a country artist with pop influences and pop crossover appeal. That’s how she bills herself, that’s how her label promotes her, and that’s the whole deal with so many female country stars these days. They’re part of the “New Country,” the less insular, less pure-Nashville energy in country music today. So it’s very strange that the Recording Academy – responsible for the Grammys – is now saying that Kacey’s new album is not eligible for nominations in the country music categories.
Since her debut album Same Trailer Different Park won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album in 2014, Kacey Musgraves has been a mainstay in the category — nominated again in 2016 for Pageant Material, and winning for Golden Hour in 2019. But her newest record, Star-Crossed, won’t be in contention for the same honor at this year’s ceremonies. According to an email obtained by Rolling Stone, from Cindy Mabe, President of Universal Music Group Nashville, to the Recording Academy, the Academy has decided the album is not eligible for contention in the country album category. Star-Crossed was instead ruled eligible for Pop Vocal Album. The letter argues that excluding the record — which was tagged as “country” in streaming and metadata — sets a dangerous precedent for the genre.
“This decision from the country committee to not accept star-crossed into the country albums category is very inconsistent and calls into question the other agendas that were part of this decision,” Mabe writes. “The idea that a handful of people including competitors, who would benefit from Kacey not being in the country category, are deciding what is country only exacerbates the problem. The system is broken and sadly not just for Kacey Musgraves but for our entire genre because of how these decisions are made for music’s biggest stage. Building roadblocks for artists who dare to fight the system is so dangerous and against everything I think the Grammy’s [sic] stand for.”
The Academy previously used committees of industry insiders to determine nominees and winners, but following demands for change from artists like the Weeknd, the Academy shifted to a majority peer-to-peer voting system that the Academy said would place power “back in the hands of the entire voting membership body.”
Despite country radio’s reluctance to embrace anyone other than conservative straight white men (and a limited pool of straight white women), the Grammy Awards have historically been a crucial foothold for artists like Musgraves who don’t adhere to the genre’s “shut up and sing” norms. It’s where the Chicks found success for Taking the Long Way in 2007 after being banned …read more