When Kacey Musgraves headlined US 101's High Noon Saloon on Jan. 16, listeners knew little about her other than she'd placed seventh on the 2007 season of "Nashville Star" and she'd co-written a new hit for Miranda Lambert, "Mama's Broken Heart."
In just 11 months, her career has rocketed from "Kacey who?" to CMA New Artist of the Year and Grammy nominee.
When she plays Track 29 on Friday night, Dec. 13, everyone will be there to hear country's hottest female vocalist.
Her debut single, "Merry Go 'Round," cracked Billboard's Top 10 country songs, and its album, "Same Trailer Different Park," went gold as it climbed the country album chart to No. 1. Her second single, "Blowin' Smoke," again lit up country airplay, reaching No. 23 on the charts.
Over the summer, she opened for Kenny Chesney on his No Shoes Nation stadium tour. She was nominated for both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year. She beat out superduo Florida Georgia Line to bring home the CMA New Artist trophy.
In this week's issue, Entertainment Weekly lists "Same Trailer Different Park" in its Top 10 Albums of 2013. And she capped last week with four Grammy nominations: Best Country Song for "Merry Go 'Round," Best Country Album, songwriting recognition for "Mama's Broken Heart" and the all-genre New Artist of the Year award.
So what's the big appeal?
"Her writing," Bill "Dex" Poindexter says without hesitation. "She is an awesome writer."
Poindexter, WUSY-FM music director, and Melissa Turner are the radio station's afternoon on-air team.
"I think she brings something to country music that's a different type of artistry," Turner adds. "She started her own brand that is different from others, and it appeals to a different group of people."
Indeed, Musgraves is already being called "the Martina McBride of a younger generation" of women. McBride has long been acknowledged as country's voice for female empowerment with hits such as "Independence Day," "A Broken Wing" and "This One's for the Girls."
"Absolutely! She's [Kacey's] like 'power to the women'," says Turner.
Musgraves pulls listeners in with wry puns, metaphors, pop-culture references and the unexpected turn of phrase:
"Mama's hooked on Mary Kay
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane
Daddy's hooked on Mary two floors down."
She says what she thinks. She sings in a clear voice with a matter-of-fact style about society's stigmas without fear of censorship. Case in point: "Follow Your Arrow," her current single.
"Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls if that's something you're into
When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint/or don't
Follow your arrow wherever it points."
Poindexter concedes "Follow Your Arrow" hasn't gotten as much air time as "Merry Go 'Round" because it is a controversial song.
"I'm not so sure she's going to enjoy a lot of radio air time on that song," he says. "In this format, you've got to watch that."
But fans know that won't stop her from saying what she thinks Friday night.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.