She may not have been Pageant Material, but Kacey Musgraves did make a go at the competitive life back in 2007, when she was a contestant on Nashville Star, the same reality program that gave rise to Miranda Lambert and Chris Young. Musgraves lost to raspy Alabamian Angela Hacker, coming in seventh place, but her performance of “Halfway to Memphis,” written with Lambert’s father, Rick, left a pretty indelible impression.
Strumming solo on the acoustic guitar, the 18-year-old Musgraves belts through the country ballad, hitting corners of her range and nuances in her tone not usually fully displayed on songs like her new single “Biscuits,” but, somehow, she wasn’t able to take the title. It was no matter, of course — Musgraves continued to write in Nashville, eventually landing a publishing contract, a deal with Lost Highway (absorbed by Mercury Records) and a cut on Lambert’s Four the Record, the Grammy-winning “Mama’s Broken Heart” with Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark. When Same Trailer, Different Park was released in 2013, Nashville Star was a distant memory.
“I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into,” she recently admitted to The Fader about her experience on the show. “I was like, ‘Cool, might as well do it. . . I’m glad that I got voted off really early, because hardly anyone remembers it. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know shit. And musically, I didn’t make great choices.”
On a questionnaire from Nashville Star, Musgraves lists her goals (“to have a good, long-lasting music career, to stay in shape and to learn to play the dobro”), and her dream duets (Shooter Jennings or Dolly Parton). Still quite fit and on the verge of her second album, she seems to be on a pretty good track. Though she hasn’t sung with Parton yet, she did perform a version of the country icon’s “Here You Come Again” with mega popstar Katy Perry on CMT’s Crossroads. Next up: Jennings and that dobro. Shooter, are you listening?
Pageant Material will be released June 23rd.