Whether or not she’s really country now, of course, is another matter, but she will be tomorrow night, when as the press release says, she’ll perform “a unique version of ‘Red’” at the Country Music Association Awards show in Nashville, with “all-star guests” Alison Krauss, Edgar Meyer, Eric Darken, Sam Bush and Vince Gill.
All-star guests, indeed. Swift may have won seven Grammy Awards, but Krauss has 27. She has seven CMA awards, but Gill has 18. And she may have sold billions of records, but how many her special guests have appeared on at one time or another is anyone’s guess.
But back to her country music bona fides. Earlier this month, Swift cut the ribbon for the new Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, for which she donated $4 million. And she is up for six more CMA awards, including Entertainer of the Year, though her contemporary country music, along with that of her fellow nominees, has very little in common with that of her forthcoming performing partners.
And it’s not Swift’s country music that fills arenas and stadiums, nor is it the t-shirts-and-sneakers and faded blue jeans of early hits like “Tim McGraw” and “You Belong With Me,” long since replaced by the bigger pop sounds and lipstick colors of “Red,” its Maserati likewise replacing “McGraw”’s Chevy truck. None of this, not to mention the continued focus on young adult romance, heartbreak and self-righteous comeuppance, is of much interest for anyone over 20-something tuning in Wednesday night.
So it will have to be a unique version of “Red,” and with Swift’s backup musicians, it most certainly will be. Whatever the lyrics, she’s playing with grownup musicians who have true country music backgrounds and nothing to prove. She’s the biggest thing since Garth Brooks—and deserves the CMA’s Pinnacle Award that they're giving her for her worldwide success in concert performances and record sales, that only Brooks has previously received.
But can Taylor Swift cut it with the big boys and girl? Tune in tomorrow and find out.
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