Now that’s MY kind of country! Producers Reese Witherspoon and Kacey Musgraves have teamed up on a new Apple TV+ singing competition series that aims to make the country music genre more inclusive called My Kind Of Country. The producing duo challenged ‘Scouts’ Mickey Guyton, Orville Peck and Jimmie Allen to search the globe for the next country music star, and bring their roster of artists to compete for the title after going through a series of showcases with each scout. Bringing diversity and promoting inclusivity in the country music genre appears to be the goal of the show, but it’s been a fight that each Scout has been a part of long before the series.
“I think both Mickey and I and also Jimmie have all, for a while now, been blazing our own trails and trying to find our own paths in a genre that hasn’t always been super diverse. I think that has now turned into the movement and the responsibility of mentorship within that to provide that for other artists now,” Orville, who identifies as gay and hides his face under a fringe mask, told HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview ahead of the show’s premiere on March 24.
Mickey, who was named TIME’s 2022 Breakthrough Artist Of The Year and was the first Black solo female artist to be nominated in a Grammy country category, continued, “We were already doing it in our respective careers and when we got the opportunity to be a part of this show, this singing competition on such a global level, we couldn’t be a part of it fast enough.” She added, “It’s just been really cool to see the different perspectives of country music and to see how much people love country music all over the world.”
While the country music genre has seemingly expanded its horizons over the last decade, with radio stations making a more concerted effort to play female artists and more diverse performers hitting the airwaves, there’s still work to be done, both Mickey and Orville agree. In recent weeks, the Tennessee state legislature has put a ban on all forms of gender-affirming care for transgender people under 18, and restricted “adult cabaret performances” in public or in the presence of children, and banned them from occurring within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, or places of worship. Since 2015, Tennessee has enacted more anti-LGBTQIA+ laws than any other state in the country. In a swift response, a handful of Nashville-based artists, within the country genre and beyond, banded together with a host of Tennessee drag artists for a benefit show called Love Rising for the Tennessee Equality Project, inclusion tennessee, OUTMemphis and The Tennessee Pride Chamber.
“I think a show like ours, it’s so important, but it’s bittersweet in a way that it should have to be something so novel, in a way. I think new stories and new perspectives only grows a genre, and if we’re thinking like a tapestry, it just adds more colors and shapes,” Orville explained. “It could never be any harm to open doors and let more people be seen and heard.”
The South African musician continued, “We shouldn’t be moving backwards, especially with things like trans-rights. That’s obviously very sad at the moment and disheartening…super disheartening. But we hope that a show like this continues that change and gives a platform to introduce to people who are new to the genre or have a new perspective, and maybe also open the minds of some people who may not be used to a different perspective in country and maybe change a few minds out there as well.”
My Kind Of Country premieres on Apple TV+ on March 24, 2023.