Country singer Kacey Musgraves continues to defy genre conventions.
“For a man who clearly loves being well-liked, it’s indescribably mind-numbing to see him blatantly and murderously ignore doing ONE THING that would not only make people happy but would SAVE PEOPLE’S LIVES,” she wrote in a tweet including the president’s handle. “True leaders don’t stand back and watch the world burn.”
The singer pointed out that she hailed from Texas and is familiar with hunting and gun culture. She then pivoted, saying the recent tragedies deserved a different response.
“The system is majorly flawed and NOBODY NEEDS ANYTHING REMOTELY AUTOMATIC,” she wrote in another tweet.
Musgraves is one of the brightest stars in a musical genre notorious for being silent on political issues, and her willingness to publicly speak out goes against the grain.
For country stars who remain on the fence about wading too strongly into political discussion, the fate of the Dixie Chicks may weigh on some of their minds. During a London concert on March 10, 2003, nine days before the invasion of Iraq, lead vocalist Natalie Maines told their audience that the country music group was “ashamed that the president of the United States” was from its home state (also Texas). The group was swiftly met with industry backlash from top stars, boycotts and a blacklisting from corporate broadcasting networks.
The band would resume touring in 2010 after a hiatus of several years. But the specter of at-risk sponsorships, talk-show bashing and declining record sales still looms large for country artists considering raising their voices.
Musgraves exists in a space outside of the traditional country sound. She rose to her current prominence off the strength and reception of her Grammy-winning 2018 album “Golden Hour.” Hailed for synthesizing a pop and country blend, Musgrave has a wide mainstream appeal that may transcend the country genre and some of its unspoken rules.
But Musgraves’s tweet did still receive backlash on social media. One Twitter user who replied to her tweets advised her to “stick to the singing.” It’s a trend often seen when celebrities comment on social issues: To critics, commenting on policy is outside the bounds they believe an entertainer should remain within.
Musgraves’s ascendant career has been built off boundary-bending stylistic choices. It seems her choice to speak out, as she did following the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, follows suit.