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Harmony Lost: The Divisive Impact of Politics on Nashville's Country Music Scene - Insights from R.J

The Divisive Impact of Politics on Nashville's Country Music Scene

The culture wars have invaded what at one time would have been considered an impenetrable stronghold of Americana: Nashville’s country music scene.

Backstage, dressing rooms “doors are shut now,” and, in public, country stars are going toe-to-toe over politically-fueled ideologies, dissolving what Gulf Coast Jam festival producer Rendy Lovelady said was the “camaraderie” that once bonded country superstars like Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Kane Brown, and Kenny Chesney.

“Ten or 15 years ago, everybody would sit in a circle around the table, pull out their guitars and start singing old country songs,” Lovelady told Rolling Stone. “There was a lot of camaraderie. Whereas now, the camaraderie has definitely lessened. They tend to stay in their own community.”

“It really is weird right now,” said one anonymous country music manager. “Country music has always been this kind of neighborhood where everyone gets along. We had everyone’s back. But it doesn’t feel that way anymore. The heels are dug in more than ever. It’s pretty heavy.”

According to the manager, differing beliefs and ideologies are without doubt to blame for the cold vibes backstage.

“I’ve always enjoyed seeing people in the hallways backstage,” he said. “But it’s not like that. You tend to avoid people, because everyone talks politics backstage. Everyone used to leave their dressing room doors open. The doors are shut now.” “Like all industries, we’re not immune from the external pressures and the world at large,” noted R.J. Romeo, president of the Romeo Entertainment Group. “So naturally, there’s more divisiveness in the country now than ever before. That’s going to show up in opinions on music and everything.”

As BizPac Review reported, country fans were shocked in April after CMT Music Awards allowed country pop singer Kelsea Ballerini to parade on stage with a bunch of drag queens for her backup singers in protest of a Tennessee law that would restrict drag performances in front of children.

“I love self-expression and I love inclusivity,” declared Ballerini, following her virtue-signalling performance. And, back in October, Luke Bryan caused liberal heads to explode when he welcomed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to his stage during a benefit concert to raise money for victims of Hurricane Ian. And the divisive tear in country music’s quilt will likely only get worse.

“With everything heating up with the presidential race, people are beginning to have very distinct opinions,” Lovelady said.

Ideologies are now impacting how Romeo books acts. He thought twice before booking a liberal country act in a conservative part of California.

“That factors into the conversation now,” he told Rolling Stone, “and it never did before.”

Politics are now considered when he books opening acts for a touring star.

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