Next Women of Country: Kacey Musgraves

"Merry Go Round" Singer Tours With Little Big Town, Kenny Chesney

For months now, Kacey Musgraves has been making the rounds with her debut single, “Merry Go Round.” Along with critical praise from Rolling Stone and National Public Radio, the thoughtful single recently reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s country airplay chart.

Quickly becoming known as one of Nashville’s most promising songwriters, this East Texas native is also one of CMT’s Next Women of Country . caught up with Musgraves prior to a show in Knoxville, Tenn., where she was opening for Little Big Town . She’ll begin appearing on Kenny Chesney ’s No Shoes Nation stadium tour on March 16 in Tampa, Fla., with dates scheduled through the summer.

CMT: What is a typical day on the road for you, or is there such a thing as a typical day?

Musgraves: No two days are alike, really. It depends if I have radio stuff to do or not. Like today, I woke up at 9:30. I had an acoustic radio performance at 11. Then I usually get some downtime after that. I try to fit in some yoga. The steel player, Adam, is a great yoga teacher. He practices all the time, so we all bring our mats, find a quiet room and do yoga.

Usually there’s catering involved shortly after that. Some soundcheck, and I usually have downtime before the show to make a drink and chill out and do hair and makeup. We’ve been going on at 8 p.m. I feel like from the show out, it’s super downhill. It’s all building up to the show, and afterwards, it’s like, “Whew, I can breathe.”

I couldn’t do what you do without a drink.

Oh, gosh, it helps! That’s for sure. Before we went on Jimmy Fallon, I gave all the guys an airplane bottle of whiskey and said, “Down it! I want us to be loose.”

What goes through your mind when the lights dim and you’re about to walk onstage?

I’m usually the most nervous at that point, but I don’t get too nervous a lot. Just words. What the first words are of the first song, the first chord. I try to remember the city name I’m in, so I don’t say “Hello, Ohio!” when I’m in frickin’ Montana. (laughs) That’s embarrassing. It’s the ultimate way to make a crowd feel unwelcome. It’s like, “Sorry, I’ve seen 800 places!”

Little Big Town have been doing this for a while. What do you credit their longevity to?

First of all, they’re amazing voices. They blend so well together. When those four people sing together, it creates this perfect chord. It’s very pleasing to listen to. And they’re all really, really nice. They’re hard-working, and they’re sweet people. And you can tell there’s no ego involved. A lot of times with groups like that, you can tell that some members are trying to push ahead to be heard above the other ones. It’s not like that with them. It’s simply what’s best for the song, and I think that’s really tasteful. They all bring something different to the table.

You mentioned their work ethic. At this point, do you feel like you have to give everything you’ve got to build a career?

Yeah, pretty much. There are some people coming up right now that want it so bad. You have no room to slack, you know? Do I want to get up at 9 and sing? No. But do I love to sing? Yeah. It doesn’t feel like work to me because I enjoy it so much. Sometimes I feel a little guilty, like, “This is my job? I get paid to hang out with people? Play music and travel, see new places?” I’m just thankful.

Now that you’ve been on the radio, are you seeing people singing along?

Yeah! It’s been fun to see what songs people gravitate towards because I don’t have an album out yet. These people are finding it on YouTube and memorizing the words. That’s really cool to me. It gives me an early indicator as far as what I feel like people are going to like. People have been learning the words, and there are a few songs that are becoming increasingly known. That gets me stoked.

Any big plans for release day of your album, Same Trailer, Different Park?

There will be a Record Store Day edition on 4/20, which is cool. Yeah, we’re going to do a vinyl, which I love because I’m a big collector. We’ll do something fun around that day. Otherwise, the music will be out March 19. And it’s two weeks until the first Kenny Chesney date, basically. I’m like, “Oh, my God, I have to get my shit together.”

What are you looking forward to the most on that tour?

That’s just crazy. What I do [as a performer now], I can get my point across to five people in a room with no mics and just an acoustic guitar. So how do I take that, without making it cheesy, and also reach the person in the nosebleed section? That’s going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to make me a better performer. Am I going to strut the stage in a diamond-encrusted head mic? No. But it’s going to be an interesting challenge. And, oh, my gosh, Kenny is the pinnacle, as far as entertaining goes, in any genre. I have a lot to learn, but it’s going to be fun. He’s a really nice guy.

Those are fun shows for fans, too.

Honestly, I have never been. It’s pretty weird. For some reason, I equate venue size to my hometown population. It’s the only way I can wrap my brain about it. The town where I went to school has about five or six thousand people. When I think about that, multiplied by however many times it takes to get to 70 to 80 to 90,000 people in one place listening, that is unreal to me. I don’t know what is going to happen when I see those people for the first time.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.