(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Now that it’s finally time for Country Strong to open in a theater near you, you will be able to see firsthand how well these Hollywood stars take on the twang. After hearing the soundtrack a couple months ago, I knew Leighton Meester had definitely nailed it. Vocally, anyway. Since she worked with Taylor Swift’s producer Nathan Chapman on a lovely piano ballad, “Words I Couldn’t Say,” I asked him if my hunch about her was right. Is she really all that? He said yes. “Leighton was extremely professional and easy to work with. She respected that she was making country music and she worked really hard to show up to the vocal sessions fully prepared. On time, passionate about doing a great job, all those things you’d want someone to be while taking on a role like this,” he raved. Chapman certainly knows country hits. He’s produced all three of Swift’s albums. I remember, way back in 2007, Swift telling me about Chapman’s good ear for music and about his open-mindedness from day one. “What kind of producer actually listens to a 15-year-old girl with no experience?” she said.