NPR

As Always, Country Music Gently Reckons With Civic Tumult

At the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday night, light political farce and wide-angle expressions of empathy were the vehicles for addressing violence, toxic politics and sexual assault.
The opening performance at the 51st annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. Source: Taylor Hill

For decades now, country's aesthetic and ideological sensibilities have been shaped as much by the music's modern, middle-class suburban appeal as its rural working-class roots, which can make for quite the rhetorical push-and-pull (likely one of many factors that contributed to the Dixie Chicks' famed expulsion from the format over voicing distaste for the second President Bush during a U.K. concert). Working-class political speech hasn't always been recognized as political at all; it's just as likely to be dismissed as class resentment. As Nadine Hubbs wrote in it's expressed "not in the language of politics or activism, but in the stories of ordinary individual lives, and with an emphasis on feeling." (She would argue that claiming the enlightened, politically correct moral high ground has beenMary Gray likewise notes that advocating, organizing and changing minds in small, working-class communities requires leaning on familiarity and communal belonging.

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