Yesterday morning, after my commentary piece on Taylor Swift ran in the Lexington Herald-Leader (it was posted last night here at The Musical Box as “Swift Thinking”), KO Roberts of the Academy of Country Music emailed me this insightful response, which he kindly allowed us to share with you.
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Mr. Tunis, I enjoyed reading your article on Ms. Taylor Swift this morning. I wanted to comment on your perspective of her recent snub from the Academy of Country Music. I was somewhat surprised but not shocked by her going home empty handed. I have been a professional (voting) member of the ACM since 2004. As you know, the criteria for the ACM awards is much different than other awards such as the CMA’s. Most artists would tell you they would rather win a fan voted award than something from the industry elite. However, that is usually said after they lose the award. I don’t claim to know what other members are considering as we wind through the nominations and voting process, nor do I speak for them. But I can tell you, from my perspective, Taylor Swift’s success will continue to soar in spite of what Nashville thinks of her as an artist. I don’t mean to imply that they have a negative opinion. I think you are correct in your assessment of her vocal talent. I’ve made no bones about the fact that she’s not a great singer. But let’s face it, how many on the radio today would win a singing contest? It’s not so much about the voice but connecting with the fans and Taylor Swift does that better than anyone right now. Her lyrics and arrangements complement her vocal style. She doesn’t need the power and range to pull it off. Her audience is mostly made up of teenage girls who can identify with her message and personality. She’s a gifted songwriter and speaks directly to them. That’s the key. As a father of a teenage daughter, I appreciate the fact that she is a good role model. I often use her as an example when having life discussions with my daughter. Taylor is all about living life to the fullest and not turning into a snob or brat celebrity. She’s very real and genuinely appreciates her fans and is humbled by how they’ve responded to her music. I see her branching out into areas never before attempted by other country artists and developing many other revenue streams that will make her widely successful. She’s got a great future as a songwriter, producer and performer.