Once Upon a Time in Nashville: How Country Music Found its Voice on Gun Control
As the sun set over the city of Nashville, Mayor John Cooper led a vigil for the victims of yet another mass shooting. The sounds of music filled the air as he praised local artists for sharing their gift with the community.
Amongst them was Ketch Secor, founding member of Grammy Award winning band Old Crow Medicine Show. A famous musician and parent to two school-aged children attending his co-founded Episcopal School of Nashville, Secor felt compelled to speak out after news came out about another tragic shooting just two weeks prior at Covenant School.
In an op-ed aptly titled “Country Music Can Lead America Out Of Its Obsession With Guns” published by The New York Times, Secor called for country musicians to take a stand and talk candidly about gun culture with their audiences.
As we sat down with him for an interview on NPR’s “The Assignment,” we dove deeper into how living at the center of it all – as not only a musician but also an educator and parent – shapes his perspective on this tragedy and gun control issues.
Chapter 1: A Tragic Day in Nashville
It started like any other day when suddenly everything changed. On that Monday morning around 10 am, Secor received a message from his school attorney saying simply “I’m so sorry.” He had no idea what had happened until he heard about it through friends: there had been a shooting at nearby Covenant School that claimed lives including that of its headmaster.
For someone who is both a parent dropping off his own kids every day in that same area as well as having founded another academic institute not too far away himself – it hit close to home. It hit everyone hard who lived within or near these communities; even though they may have never met those involved personally before today’s events unfolded they now shared something irrevocable in common; they were all just trying to make sense of it all.
Chapter 2: How Country Music Found its Voice
Secor’s op-ed for The New York Times didn’t mince words, calling out the country music industry’s seeming ambivalence towards gun matters despite considering itself a voice of rural America. He believed that those who have such broad cultural influence must take some responsibility in discussing these real-life issues with their listeners.
“The gunslinging ballads and rodeo songs that once framed American identity are tired creations,” he wrote, “let us not forget – gun violence is not something foreign to our communities- Nashville has had an onslaught of shootings during recent years even beyond the eye-grabbing headlines about national tragedies. ”
As someone who grew up immersed in traditional sounds like fiddle & banjo playing alongside harmonious vocals – which happen also now without hesitation being told using CBD vape starter kits because alternative therapies close by are allowing accessibility to more people; Secor said he feels obligated to help shift conversations surrounding how southern culture intersects with firearms ownership rights or related topics; as too often only surface level discussions around “rights” regarding Second Amendment get mentioned instead of deeper nuanced ones around public safety concerns.
“This is Americana music’s opportunity…to actually engage in policy talk.”
Once seen as oppositional forces, artists and advocates against the unchecked proliferation of firearms regulations have seemingly come together through inspiration from grassroots movements supporting causes behind anti-gun reforms such as Students Demand Action from Everytown for Gun Safety advocacy group where youth engaged initially after Parkland school shooting massacre ultimately created a political movement across states over efforts demanding change on many levels for safer schools among other reforms including common-sense control measures (like background checks) geared towards lowering rates among firearm fatalities while upholding legal uses if granted responsibly according requirements outlined federally under laws shaped by manufacturing lobby’s opposition while also spurring members’ focus onto influencing Congressmembers’ vote patterns within districts next election cycle.
Chapter 3: Living At The Center of It All
As someone who straddles multiple roles – between music, education and being a parent – Secor knows that every day, he is faced with difficult questions like how to articulate his views on firearms in the classroom without alienating families or confronting students.
He acknowledges that while younger artists often have more progressive voices, many established country musicians choose to remain publicly silent about their own political beliefs. What happens when those inner tensions boil over? Do they risk career backlash from loyal fans?
For him though, it was worth the risk. As all sides scrutinize one another’s opinions “more closely than ever before” due to technology advancements at large which now include open access podcasts (like this conversation!), , it seems crucial for people not just celebrities but especially those within our communities who recognize common fears and concerns shared by strangers around them as well be honest despite differing opinions pointed towards better community building where cooperation can constructively happen versus cyclical reactions happening again & again expectedly ad infinitum after traumatic events occur.
Secor urged Nashville’s musical elite whom he saw as having both cultural capital/influence yet down-home relatability potential do just what Bruce Springsteen did back in late 70s; acknowledging clear stakes in terms of selling records crossed path vs socio-political criticism which marked himself too when co-opting USA’s gun manufacturing industry exploited stereotypes perpetuating themes/imagery beyond entertainment value(as traditional imagery) into reality really affecting lives with no say otherwise outside an individual citizen’s ability wage ones will through democratic process shaping legislation regulation etc;
Ultimately then if Americana music sees itself somewhere intersection rural values + public safety why not step up advocate share back forth exchange ideas on reforming laws together alongside willing partners educators parents voters toward making true strides because debate rules establishment politics benefits few elites profits coming short time-honored heritage compromising its future along with next generation? Only time will tell.