Coming Soon(ish): A Modern Country Music History

Those who read my Sunday Morning Paper feature or follow me on any of my social media platforms know that I’ve been teasing something big for a while now, and I’m happy to say that the wheels are finally in motion with it. For those who don’t know, however, I’m pleased to announce that I will soon be publishing a five-part series on country music’s last 30 years, dubbed simply, as you can gather from the headline, A Modern Country Music History. I don’t want to say too much about it for right now, other than it will start with the debut of the often-dubbed “class of ‘89’” and Keith Whitley’s death and go until the end of 2019.

Here’s the thing – I likely won’t release this until late May, at the earliest. I still have some friends reading early drafts and submitting feedback, and I don’t want to rush that process for me or them. What I can reveal is that it’s over 50,000 words as of now and will be split into five separate parts. “Summer 2021” will likely be the more correct (and vague) release date.

OK, so why am I bothering to tell you all about it now? Well, here’s the thing: I want your feedback, too! One inspiration for this series came from Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s Country Music documentary, particularly the interviews that added depth and perspective to familiar stories. Obviously … I don’t have the reach to interview the biggest artists associated with country music’s past 30 years, but I do want to have a section to allow folks to offer their thoughts and opinions on the time period.

I’ve compiled a survey asking some guiding questions that – spoiler alert, or not, given that it’s pure history – will indicate the direction of the series. You’ll find it here. If you’d like your own copy of the survey to fill out, please let me know by reaching out at themusicaldivide@gmail.com. The only rules are as follows:

  • You can fill out any question you like and skip over ones that don’t interest you.
  • Feel free to keep it short or go in-depth on these topics!
  • Ideally, I’d like survey results by sometime in mid-May, but it’s not a hard deadline, so don’t feel like there’s a rush on this. This is just a separate companion section to the overall piece, meant to be something fun for everyone involved.
  • It should go without saying, but you don’t need to participate in this to read the eventual feature. It’s just a fun way to involve you, the readers, and get credited for its creation.

That’s it! I’ll be excited to reveal more in the coming weeks. Until then, thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

– Zackary Kephart