Kacey Musgraves would like young people to follow their arrow wherever it goes, as her signature song says, and if she could provide just a little tailwind to help those arrows land in the bull’s-eye that is music, all the better.
“Music education has long been an interest of mine,” says the country-pop star. “It started when I got to hold a benefit concert for my hometown” — a 2015 show in Mineola, Texas, that raised more than $100,000 for local school arts programs as well as a nature preserve. “I felt proud to be able to give money to my own high school and see the direct benefit of kids getting to have a bigger choir department and musical instruments.”
So when it came to choosing a charity for her Variety Power of Women honor, she easily settled on the Grammy Museum, which, beyond its hall of exhibits, offers education-focused programs like an annual Grammy Camp for teen prodigies and the Music Educator Award. “Especially coming from a very small town in Texas where I’ve seen firsthand that that is the first department to take a hit when there are budget cuts, I know there are so many kids that have such raw talent that needs to be nourished.”
Musgraves fell more in love with the Grammy Museum (which has locations in Los Angeles, Newark, and Cleveland, Miss.) when she stopped by the L.A. branch’s Clive Davis Theater in February for a benefit Q&A and performance. It was five days before she would pick up four Grammys across the street at Staples Center, including what many consider the evening’s most prestigious honor, the all-genre album of the year prize, for “Golden Hour.”
While she was at the museum, “I had a chance to peruse the wonderful Dolly Parton memorabilia [in a current temporary exhibit] and I was just so enamored by all of her beautiful gowns and dresses.” Not that she needed much education on Parton before she took to the telecast with former tour mate Katy Perry to
join Parton on “Here You Come Again.”
Having her own exhibit in the Grammy Museum “would be bucket list,” Musgraves says. But if you can’t wait, another institution for which she’s done benefits, Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, will be opening a Musgraves exhibit this summer. “I just went home and made sure to pull out some really embarrassing photos for that. I have definitely always had my own idea of style, and sometimes it did not serve me well,” she says, presumably referring to her childhood days, when she embraced full Western wear with less of a sense of irony than she did later on. Needless to say, in 2019 she’s a fashion icon. When she sits down with Variety wearing a black track suit with rhinestone rainbow stripes up and down each side, she describes her garb as “my best Elton John homage” and notes that her favorite style is “when something comfortable meets something very … extra.”
In clothes as in her music, she says she likes when “two opposite worlds come together.”
For Musgraves, a collision of worlds is a recurring theme, both in a fan base that runs the gamut from rednecks to RuPaul and in a rejiggered sound that emphasizes blissed-out folk-pop at least as much as country. She’s carrying that genre-blending forward, saying her wish list for co-writers on her next album includes Tame Impala, Sufjan Stevens and the Shins.