Tennessee in the news, part 2: The New Yorker also takes a detailed look at the Volunteer State this week, in writer Emily Nussbaum's inquiry into political, cultural and racial divides in country music.
Nussbaum examines the gulf between the mainstream "bro-country" epitomized by Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, and the diverse performers clustered under the "Americana" umbrella — including Knoxville's Adeem the Artist.
Adeem — who told Compass earlier this year that they were considering a move away from East Tennessee — tells Nussbaum of plans to relocate their family to Pittsburgh.
Although Nussbaum's focus is different from Applebaum's, both note the outside conservative forces that have found a home and a receptive audience in Tennessee in recent years, including firebrand Ben Shapiro's relocation of his Daily Wire media operation to Middle Tennessee.
"This crew, along with other alt-right figures — the commentator Tomi Lahren, executives at the social network Parler — joined forces with MAGA-friendly country stars, such as Kid Rock and Jason Aldean, who owned clubs on Broadway," Nussbaum writes.
The article also includes discussion of another East Tennessean, Sneedville native and Gibbs High School graduate Morgan Wallen. Nussbaum recounts the country superstar's racism scandal, when he was caught on video using the n-word while carousing with a group of friends. Wallen's music was removed from streaming platforms, and he felt compelled to release an apology video.
The cancellation was short-lived. Wallen is now more popular than ever and currently has the number one single and number two album on the Billboard charts. (The single is admittedly pretty catchy.)
During her visit to Nashville, Nussbaum writes, "When I asked an Uber driver, a woman in her sixties with a scraped-back ponytail, what music she liked, she said, 'Morgan Wallen, of course.' Asked what she thought about the scandal, she said, in a clipped voice, 'He come back up real quick. They didn’t get him for too long. He’s No. 1 again.' When she dropped me off, she added, sweetly, 'You have a blessed day, Emily.'"