Jimmie Allen, Mickey Guyton and Orville Peck Discuss ‘My Kind of Country’

Jimmie Allen, Mickey Guyton and Orville Peck have been on the hunt for My Kind of Country.

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As trailblazers in country music, Guyton and Allen have broken down barriers for artists of color. In 2018, Allen became the first Black artist to have a debut single hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart with “Best Shot.” Guyton has repeatedly raised her voice to spotlight emerging artists of color in country music and made history in 2020 as the first Black woman to be nominated for Best Country Solo Performance at the Grammy Awards.

Peck has also been doing his part to expand country music. Born and raised in South Africa, Peck is now based in Canada and wears a fringed face mask that allows him to remain anonymous. The singer is openly gay and has released two studio albums, Pony in 2019 and Bronco in 2022.

Now, they’re joining forces on My Kind of Country, a new series on Apple TV+ executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Grammy decorated artist Kacey Musgraves, where Allen, Guyton and Peck find country artists from all around the world and bring them to Nashville. The artists perform in a variety of showcases and workshops led by the three singers that determine whether or not they remain in the competition. The winner will receive $100,000 and support from Apple Music to launch their career.

Ahead of the series premiere on Friday (March 24), American Songwriter spoke with Allen, Guyton and Peck about how they got involved with My Kind of Country, what the most compelling aspect of the show is, how they hope it impacts the genre at large and more.

American Songwriter: What inspired you to be a part of this show?

Mickey Guyton: We were actively going out and trying to find different country musicians from all walks of life. Then we each got approached by production. We’ve been in talks with production for a few years as they were researching the genre and we would give out names of people that we loved, and so then they developed the show around it and asked us to be a part of it. It was a no-brainer to be a part of it.

AS: What is the most compelling aspect of this show?

Jimmie Allen: We not only get to hear the artists sing, [we] get to see them be artists, be creative. Everything from the collaborations to their individual, to their performance. They got a lot more time to really show what they’re good at. I thought that was really cool.

MG: You get a window inside of who they are versus just seeing them perform a song. You get to see them, and I think that’s so cool.

Orville Peck: Yeah. And I think the emphasis the whole time was really on the artists and their growth. Of course, it’s a competition and that element too, but it definitely doesn’t feel like I think any competition show any of us have ever seen really. It doesn’t feel like the typical ones. It’s really about authenticity and sincerity and art and artistry.

AS: What shines about these artists, their creativity and who they are, and how does that come through in this show?

MG: I think the creativity and who they are, for example [contestant] Dhruv Visvanath. He’s incredible just watching him and he’s so compelling. And then you get to hear him talk and the things that he does and how much he loves his girlfriend. But you get to really see them and who they are and I think that that’s what’s so cool about artistry. I think that’s what’s so cool about social media now that you’ve gotten a window into who these people are as some of our favorite artists. So we get to see that with these new budding artists.

AS: One of the aspects of the show that is really interesting is that you are getting artists from all over the world. How do you feel the global perspective that’s coming through these artists will impact country music in the long run?

OP: I think the more we see ourselves represented, whether it’s in music or film or in a book, when we see ourselves existing, I think it gives us the confidence to be more ourselves. So I think not just the three of us who’ve been working at this for a long time, but these 12 artists who are so inspiring to us, I think people seeing them, that’s just going to inspire more and more people who maybe they’re already a fan of country, but they’re scared that they’re not welcome in it or can’t be a part of it. … I think it’s going to inspire a lot of incredible country musicians that we’re going to hear, hopefully, a whole bunch more stories that we can do a whole bunch more seasons and get a million more stories out there.

JA: Yeah. And I’m hoping too when people watch the show, they see ‘Wow, country music has influenced this part of the world’ and hopefully that’ll challenge record label executives to spend more time sending music to that part of the world. Challenge more artists that are country artists established to [say], ‘You can tour that part of the world because they want to hear it’ and when you go tour it, they see you, they get more inspired and it just opens up a whole new avenue of country music than just the U.S., because it can get really clustered here. A lot of times as country artists, sometimes we can get close-minded to think the only place we have is here. There’s a big old world out there that is ready to receive country music.

(ABC/Karen Neal)

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