Musicals from the Country and Bluegrass genres include:
Waitress The Bridges of Madison County
Hands on a Hardbody Bonnie & Clyde
Bright Star 9 to 5 Moonshine: That Hee-Haw Musical
Floyd Collins Giant Violet Big River
Pump Boys and Dinettes Ring of Fire The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
The Robber Bridegroom The Spitfire Grill
The Great American Trailer Park Musical OKLAHOMA!
Cowgirls Urban Cowboy
Right now, for musicals like the ones above, breakdowns will ask for Country, Country/Pop, Bluegrass, Americana, or Folk. But there are multiple styles that make up this current palette.
Country music was cultivated in 1910 by Appalachian fiddle players. It’s a blend of Big Band, Blues, Dixieland music, and Jazz with different subcategories, like Honky Tonk, Western, Rock-a-Billy, Bluegrass, and the Nashville sound. I know this is a lot, but stay with me and I promise to make this all feel so clear and easy.
Some great country influences are Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, John Denver, Garth Brooks, Brandi Carlile, Billy Ray Cyrus, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire, The Dixie Chicks, Miko Marks, Trisha Yearwood, Carrie Underwood, Yola, George Strait, and Vince Gill.
Here’s what you need to know about Country Music in this context. It has no anxiety in it because “country folk” are focused on the simple things and aren’t riddled with the stress or ‘hustle and bustle’ of city living.
Country music has evolved so much throughout the years - Its roots are in working class people writing music focused on the mundane, the everyday life. As the genre evolved it has expanded to include a wide array of perspectives and styles.
Choosin' a Tune!
Here are some videos to describe the various ways to understand and approach Country Music:
Sh*% Southern Women Say
The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Hands on a Hardbody
If singing Country styles isn’t in your nature, play around with what musical instruments you can make your voice resemble: fiddle, harmonica, drums, a steel guitar?
Here is a Country Spotify playlist! Okay, now go get yourself a Country or Bluegrass Tune on Musicnotes!
What musicals do you think your song would be great for you to audition for? What qualities help you, personally, shift the music and bend it, from "Folk-feel" like Bright Star, to "Country" like Hands on a Hardbody, to what I also call "High Country"...like Moonshine: That Hee-Haw Musical? What is the common denominator, and how are they different, or on a continuum?
First we need to identify where the Musical falls on the Country ‘Continuum’!
Vocals: Twangy, Simple, Heart-felt, Expressive
Movement: Honest, Pedestrian, Genuine
Pick a piece that matches the energy of the Musical and gives you room to live in that World!
Remember that often ‘Country folk’ is synonymous to Blue Collar Workers, People who live in Rural Communities, and so many things in between - there’s a wide range of lifestyles, experiences, cultures, and human beings behind our projections. Ground yourself in the humanity of this music, not our assumptions!
As always, be an authentic person. I swear, no one wants to see your kindergarten cowboy costume. They want to see a real person who lives a full life telling stories about your experiences! What would you wear to a square dance?
Country Music-Inspired Fashion!
Watch Country Classes Below