Jean Shepard Is Angry Over Today’s Country Music “And I Don’t Care Who Knows It, I’ll Tell the World.”
At 81-years-old, female country legend and Grand Ole Opry member Jean Shepard is feisty as ever, fed up with what has happened to country music, and not afraid to tell anyone and everyone about it.
An Opry member for going on six decades, Shepard is set to celebrate her 60th Anniversary on the stage show November 21st. Ahead of the special night, she sat down with The Tennessean‘s Juli Thanki to talk about how she helped open doors for the women of country music at a time when most female performers were only a part of groups or family bands. Shepard was also very outspoken about how she feels about the country music of today.
“I’m very adamant about how I feel about country music. And I don’t care who knows it, I’ll tell the world,” Shepard said. “Country music today is not the country music of yesterday. It’s a lot more important than that. Candy coated country don’t make it. They candy coat it and try to be something they ain’t. Well it ain’t gonna work my friend.”
“It’s a good fight for a good cause and I mean that with all my heart,” Shepard continues. “Today’s country is not country, and I’m very adamant about that. I’ll tell anybody who’ll listen, and some of those who don’t want to listen, I’ll tell them anyway. … Country music today isn’t genuine.”
Shepard also had some more veiled criticism for the Grand Ole Opry.
“Sixty years ago, I loved what the Grand Ole Opry stood for,” she told The Tennessean. “I still love what it stands for, but not quite so much. Isn’t it terrible being so truthful?”
READ: Grand Ole Opry’s Newest Members Not Paying Their Dues
Jean also talked about how she is pondering retiring in a couple of months. Due to health issues, she has been unable to perform for the last year—even more reason to listen to the Grand Ole Opry on WSM November 21st for the 60-year celebration.
Shepard was first asked to become a member on November 21st, 1955. After the passing of “Little” Jimmy Dickens earlier this year, Jean is one of the institution’s oldest members.
Read The Full Interview with Jean Shepard
November 6, 2015 @ 7:32 pm
One look at and 3 seconds of listening to the frat bros and you will agree with Jean.
I love it when real country artists speak out. I hope more follow suit. It’s the only way to save the genre from flat bill hatted tailgaters.
April 17, 2016 @ 5:38 pm
Classic country is the best..50,60,70,80 and some 90’s…those artists paved the way for today’s guys..and today’s stuff sounds all alike and nothing like country except for a few good ones and a few good songs here and there..listen to Willies Road House on Sirius and you will see how good most of that is..we have an oldies station here where I live and I listen all the time..also youtube has many of the older songs on… Listen to Larry’s Country Diner and County’s Family Reunion series and the Marty Stuart shows, plus many of the older shows that are on RFD-TV..Dish channel 231. There is where you hear the “REAL” stuff..
November 6, 2015 @ 7:38 pm
“Ah hell…..she’s just another ol’ fart who’s opinion don’t matter . She needs to get over it ”
I think the ovation Stapleton got the other night said that even today’s ” artists” are fed up with the shit they have to listen to and the shit they have to sing to keep 14 year olds listening .
November 6, 2015 @ 10:25 pm
Some of the bros don’t like what they sing, they just do it so they can be superstars. The ones like Cole Swindell, Chase Rice, and the FGL guys really do enjoy it. They don’t know any better and think they are country. They became stars not in spite of not having talent and knowing very little about country music, but because of it. The big wigs want people who don’t care about country and will do whatever they tell them to, so that’s where the FGLs come in. People like Sam Hunt truly believe that genre distinctions don’t matter and anything can be classified as country because everybody listening to all kinds of music, not realizing that having country sound like something else will lead to the death of variety. If people want to hear country, they’ll turn on a country station. If people want pop, they’ll turn on a pop station. It’s such a simple concept that these people don’t understand. It’s the people like Sam Hunt and FGL that don’t belong in country music, or any kind of music, because people picked them specifically because they don’t care about country. When all of these fads are soon obliterated, they’ll be cast out like lepers. Because of their greed and lack of integrity, Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean will probably go with them. They really do know better, but they wanted to be stars. They’ve done this for so long that they’ve brainwashed themselves into liking it, so there’s no saving them at this point. Other people though, like Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, and Miranda Lambert hate this $hit and want country to be country again. They at least have a better idea of country than the bros. Ones like Keith Urban aren’t very country themselves, but they support real country and would rather country had more substance than it currently has. There are many high profile stars that want things to change, and things might start changing soon. Then, they’ll just have to weed through everybody to find the ones that deserve to stay in the genre and which ones need to disappear. Once that happens, country can be fixed. Okay, rambling over. My whole speech may be incoherent. I sometimes go crazy at night. Good night.
November 7, 2015 @ 7:17 am
I see a lot of popularity for Miranda, even among the traditionalists, and I have to play devil’s advocate on this one.
Isn’t she part of the problem? She’s just as much a one-trick-pony as Luke Bryan, with her angry woman hear-me-rant songs that don’t have a point taking the place of beer and trucks and stuff.
Also, keep in mind she married Blake Shelton, one of the inner-circle bros.
She, being his wife, had the kind of leverage to keep him from recording “Boys Round Here” but she let it slide, meaning she thought it was at least acceptable.
Did Miranda ever speak out about the direction of this genre?
Also, she’s part of the diversity problem, with her totally undeserved monopolies at the awards shows.
November 7, 2015 @ 7:36 am
I’m not some huge Miranda Lambert fan, but I mean, there’s Automatic, All Kinds of Kinds, House that built me, and a fair amount of stuff like that. But I guess I can’t deny its the scorned woman stuff that sticks out.
But dude. Are you married? What the fuck are you talking about with “she had the leverage as his wife to keep him from making” whatever song? That’s hysterical.
November 7, 2015 @ 7:47 am
No, I’m not married, as I assume must be obvious. But the fact that she so openly endorsed his brand of B.S. music cannot be denied.
Think about it. A woman who hates meat and is vegan probably won’t marry a hunter. A woman who drives an electric car and recycles everything probably won’t marry a guy who works on an oil rig.
people tend to marry people who are like them.
The difference in the intelligence of their output is massive. Didn’t she ever bother to tell him that his music was fit for the porcelain throne? What did they ever talk about when writing songs?? If she didn’t see what he was doing was outright dumb and misogynistic then she was either in a complete fantasy or just oblivious. Even if she was aware, she didn’t publicly do anything about it. Given her platform, if she’d advocated against the bros she could have brought massive change given her star power.
November 7, 2015 @ 9:02 am
I don’t think I could name one song of Miranda Lambert’s, so I wouldn’t call myself a fan, but let me say, as someone who’s been married for over three decades to an old-school type of guy, I have absolutely no leverage over his final decisions. Not because he doesn’t love me or thinks I’m stupid, but in the end he feels like a man makes his own decisions and looks at himself in the mirror.
Now, he could never look himself in the mirror (if he could carry a tune in a bucket, bless his heart), if he sang the crud the “bros” sing and had the nerve to call it “country” music. That is NOT what he would call “integrity”.
And if he did go off the rails so uncharacteristically, he knows I’d be the first one to call him on it, privately. He also knows that if he did such a thing, the best I could do publically would be to just keep my mouth shut-I wouldn’t speak against him, but I wouldn’t endorse him either.
November 7, 2015 @ 9:12 am
Thanks for the info on her being yet another “I am woman hear me roar” type in her music, if that’s indeed so. I won’t feel like I missed anything, if that’s so. At this point I’m perfectly fine with sticking to the tried-and-true real country singers like Jean Shepard. I’m not interested in the “evolution” of country music if this is its direction. If I had to hear one more “Earl” type song I think I’d puke.
Remember the heyday of “answer” songs, almost always a woman country performer singing the “answer” to a man’s song? Some good male country performer should sing an “answer” song to all the “angry woman” songs out there-give the other half of the story.
November 7, 2015 @ 10:33 am
I always think of Miranda Lambert as a wannabe Sunny Sweeney, all the image consultants try so hard to give Miranda Lambert that ‘sassy’ image and character trait , but she is just rude.
She is atleast a country singer, which can’t be said about her friend Carrie Underwood..but she isn’t very talented.
November 7, 2015 @ 1:01 pm
One point I’d like to make about Miranda, is that while she may not directly speak about the problems that exist in country music, she definitely does support independent country and roots artists when she gets the chance. She posts a lot of positive stuff on social media about John Moreland, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, and such, including pictures from concerts. She even wore a custom, bedazzled Stapletion t-shirt on stage at the CMAs! So, I think she does deserve credit for that. (By the way, I once read somewhere that Blake Shelton claimed that he didn’t understand his wife’s taste in music, which doesn’t surprise me. Some of these mainstream country artists are sharper than you’d think, but Blake Shelton genuinely is a dunderhead.)
Oh, I almost forgot about The Pistol Annies. You could say that Miranda helped bring Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley to the world’s attention with that project.
I agree that Miranda relies on the sassy girl persona too much, but (and correct me if I’m wrong) I don’t think she’s released a true “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ / “Goodbye Earl” type song in a while, at least not as a single. If anyone is relying on that trope currently, it’s actually Carrie Underwood.
November 9, 2015 @ 7:01 am
Miranda’s radio music has sort of gone off the rails the past few years, but she is certainly no one trick pony. Her best stuff doesn’t see the radio, unfortunately, but if anything she’s broadened her scope as time’s gone on. She had western swing on her last album, for pete’s sake.
But Little Red Wagon was a dumpster fire for sure. I hope that was all Blake’s fault and she ends up getting back on track.
November 7, 2015 @ 1:32 pm
Looks like we have another one jealous of Blake so they make up stuff he never said and misquote and take out of context what he does say
Jean Shepard is a classy lady from my home state of Oklahoma and has opened many doors for Women in Country music.
Chris Stapleton is Phenomenal and his album deserves every award they can give it and then some! At the very least his big win should wake up radio and prove to that idiot that not long ago said you can not make it in Country music without being on radio that he should never again spew his stupid opinion and of course the hope of bringing back songs that mean something to Country would be a very wonderful thing!
November 8, 2015 @ 1:39 pm
Did Blake Shelton really say that? Just curious. If he did…..he’s in the outs for me. Not that I was ever a fan of us. Just like Garth Brooks said years ago…..country music wouldn’t be the same today if it wasn’t for me. Lost all respect for him also…..and the way he acted at one of the Oprys Birthdays was totally ridiculous too. A friend of mine that was with me to see the show…..who liked Garth finally seen what I meant. He’s all for himself!!!!!!!!!!!
November 8, 2015 @ 1:43 pm
November 8, 2015 @ 2:44 pm
The artists of today’s so called country come and go. Not worth remembering!no voices are distinguished as they used to be. All sound like the same songs. Couldn’t even see the artists with all the flashing lights. Country artists never needed all the flare. They just sang from their hearts and it was heartfelt as well.
November 6, 2015 @ 7:44 pm
I hate to admit I have no Idea who she is. But I like what she says. I feel so ashamed…off to youtube!!
November 7, 2015 @ 5:19 am
Hank Thompson discovered Jean Shepard, if I’m not mistaken in Oklahoma. Her best known hits include “Second Fiddle to and old Guitar” and a series of duets with Ferlin Husky, including “Dear John Letter.”
November 7, 2015 @ 8:53 am
I think my favorite is “Sad Singing, Slow Riding”, but “Two Whoops And A Holler” is a close second, along with “A Satisfied Mind”.
November 7, 2015 @ 9:16 pm
Lets it forget about one of my favs: “many happy hangovers to you”
November 6, 2015 @ 7:47 pm
Obviously hard to disagree with any portion of what she said.
I don’t view what she says as cynical, either. It’s simply acknowledging the value of contrast between genres and communities and that country music (in the mainstream) is being disingenuous. I’m naturally more mild-mannered than someone like her, and I even enjoy empty-calorie ear candy here and there even when it is 0% country, but I don’t disagree with anything she said.
TX Music Jim
November 6, 2015 @ 8:21 pm
Amen Ms. Shepard keep preaching the truth!
November 6, 2015 @ 8:54 pm
I love the fact when people age they lose their filter.l guess when time is getting short you gotta let people how you really feel .It also helps to be 100% correct.
November 11, 2015 @ 5:36 pm
Jean’s been pretty outspoken about her preference for traditional country music and what does and doesn’t fall within that category for decades. Age has nothing to do with her recent comments. Jean’s plain-speak is one of her greatest attributes in addition to possessing one of the music’s greatest female voices.
November 6, 2015 @ 9:17 pm
She’s stating she can’t perform verse being asked not to. God Love her.
Heavy Metal Cowboy
November 6, 2015 @ 9:17 pm
Hey everybody who sees this, I’m contemplating on hosting a national anti pop country day! Which includes the following:
-Crush pop country CDs with the best crushing machine you got
-Burn pop country t-shirts, sweaters/hoodies/jackets
-Make horribly offensive Twitter/Facebook/Instagram posts and memes
-Make thousands of requests to country radio stations (the ones willing to apply) and request only classic/real country music
I’d have to get a day established and make sure like-minded individuals would partake in this event, and who knows it might work!
November 7, 2015 @ 12:43 am
The way my local country station complied to those requests were hosting concerts of some “Texas Country” artists, but aside from giving a spin to one good song that is either old or not that popular, they play the worst songs from hour to hour like any pop station would. That is what I call “big city” style metro country in the west coast. It is terrible.
November 7, 2015 @ 6:36 am
“-Make horribly offensive Twitter/Facebook/Instagram posts and memes”
Almost every day is national anti pop country day… Chase Rice and Tyler Farr blocked me on Twitter. 2 down, 1000 more to go.
November 7, 2015 @ 9:18 pm
Well done man. Well done.
November 7, 2015 @ 9:35 am
That would be so utterly cool if it could happen, kind of like the country version of “Disco Demolition Day”. I’d love it, I’d do my darnedest to be there.
November 9, 2015 @ 10:30 am
I’ll see about scoring a surplussed jaw crusher. That should do the trick.
November 6, 2015 @ 9:21 pm
Amen, Mrs. Shepard.
I discovered her music earlier this year when I got the Bear Family box set. If you like ’50s and ’60s style traditional country, I can’t recommend her enough. For my money, she’s one of the most underrated artists in country history.
November 7, 2015 @ 9:44 am
You are correct, she’s never gotten due credit for kicking doors down for female country artists long before many of the usual female country artists who always get named, and she was just barely out of her teens and on her own (no husband/manager type at her side) when she started, touring with the guys long before they had the fancy busses and rode cramped up in cars and singing in rowdy joints with all the cliches before they were cliches, the chicken wire across the “stage”, such as it might be, etc.
November 6, 2015 @ 9:26 pm
Someday Miranda Lambert is going to be 81 and feisty, and it’s going to be amazing.
November 7, 2015 @ 12:34 am
I’ll be dead. Or I better be.
November 7, 2015 @ 9:30 am
Speaking of whom, I might add a tidbit about Jason Isbell congratulating Miranda for her CMA performance, and Miranda thanking Isbell for his Ryman performance the other day. Might make an interesting collaboration ?
November 7, 2015 @ 10:36 am
He just recorded a duet with Wynonna. Not sure if it’s Isbell initiating these relationship or the other artists, but Isbell appears to be pretty well-known in the mainstream. Remember, this is how Rodney Crowell all-of-a-sudden became an alt-country star with mainstream success. No reason that couldn’t happen for Isbell, if it already isn’t to some extent.
November 7, 2015 @ 12:02 am
As a long time follower of Texas music, I’m a bit concerned by the idea that tradition is the one true road to authenticity. Certainly I love musicians loyal to a specific country tradition (like Sunny Sweeney), but that’s not the only way to be authentic and still be country. I hope country can be open to artists as diverse as Townes Van Zandt, Ray Wiley Hubbard, and Steve Earle.
November 7, 2015 @ 12:34 am
I had to Wiki her.
November 7, 2015 @ 1:04 am
Trigger off topic but any idea when Mo Pitney’s album comes out……PS Jean Shepard on target.
November 7, 2015 @ 10:46 am
That’s the million dollar question, and at this point there’s no answer except to point out he’s on Curb Records, so it’s anyone’s guess.
November 7, 2015 @ 11:25 am
Thank you sir, definitely looking forward to the release…..Also, it appears he has the backing of many traditional artists and the Opry.
November 7, 2015 @ 4:23 am
That lady sure could yodel back in the day. Real talent
November 7, 2015 @ 4:57 am
Give em hell Jean! I could not agree more. I remember the day her husband, Hawkshaw Hawkins, died
it was a very sad day.
November 7, 2015 @ 5:23 am
Haha that’s Jean Shepard alright. She’s got to be one of Country Music’s top female performers and one of my personal favorites.
Everybody go listen to “I’d Rather Die Young,” “I’d Like to Know Where People Go” and “You Sent Her an Orchid” if you haven’t had your fill of quality music today.
November 7, 2015 @ 8:11 pm
Also Two Little Boys, about her husband dying.
November 7, 2015 @ 6:44 am
As a teenager, I spent time at my grandparent’s house watching Grand Ole Opry Family Reunion episodes. Jean, Jeannie Sealy, Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Jim Glaser, and John Conlee became some of my favorites. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the radio plays/ doesn’t play because I’m going to listen to whatever the hell I damn well want to. These flash in the pan noise makers will not last, but country gold will, as long as it’s in the right hands. Therin lies the problem-put country music back in the right hands. A 38 year old man child is a desecration to country music. The real singers that survive this awful phase in country music will have a lot of material worth listening to someday. I hope.
November 7, 2015 @ 6:45 am
Her words are true and wise and have my respect. All these idiots do today is write and sing stupid songs, with few exceptions. They dance and jump, and what are they doing with their fingers? It’s stupidity at it’s best.
November 7, 2015 @ 8:51 am
You tell ’em Miss Jean you’ve more than earned the right to say it.
November 7, 2015 @ 11:57 am
I have much respect for the real country music artist. I do not care for the new country “pop, rap, and rock”, but to each his own. I will continue listening to my choice “Country Classic” radio stations that play the music of entertainers such as: Jean Shepard, Connie Smith, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Neal McCoy, Alan Jackson, Gene Watson to name a few and many whom have passed on to country music heaven.
November 7, 2015 @ 1:39 pm
My husband played steel guitar with Jean Shepard for nearly 20 years! She is as down to earth as they get! She came to our daughters wedding but wouldn’t sign autographs. It was Jennifer ‘ day she said. Her entire band came to our son’s memorial service when he died suddenly last year. Jean asked me to sing on her performance at the Midnight Jamboree! Yes, she has an opinion about everything probably……but Jean Shepard has earned that right to voice it as well! The most Grand Lady of all time! By the way, my husband, David Robbins, played steel guitar. Her band was one of the best!
November 7, 2015 @ 1:56 pm
Keep it country
November 7, 2015 @ 2:06 pm
I was pretty much called ignorant and stupid this morning for voicing my opinion regarding country music with the same opinion Jean Shepherd is saying here. Why do these young Blues, Rock & Roll & Rap singers want to intrude and try to take over the Country Music industry they know nothing about???? Why don’t they start their own genre of music and have their own award show and quit trying to take over the entire music industry. I will say we true country fans do not watch the CMA Awards nor purchase any of these peoples CD’s. We also have our own Country music radio stations that play nothing but Traditional Country and believe me they will never be heard on these stations. I guess the true Country musicians will have to break away and start their own Awards show. We will show them one way or the other.
November 7, 2015 @ 2:40 pm
Iknow if it wasn’t for the women like you and many others that the Opry wouldn’t be what it is today!! along with you and many others, I have had the honor to chat with a few of Female Arist through the years,, they have paid there dues!! and want to keep it country, and alot of thenew artist want to come in and change things to anew sound!! Just like the song MURDER ON MUSIC ROW!! WAS trid to be banned on all the radidstations, because of change,. well same foes for female artist alot of them have broke through because of artist like you and kept it country,because they knew where their roots came fromm and and paid their dues and alot of these new artist have not paid their dues , A friend told me me you just have to keep it Country!! and I believe that!! so here’ to you !! you give them Hell and keep it Country. Iam just a fan!! and that is my take on it!!
November 7, 2015 @ 9:05 pm
Ms Jean Shepard, Thanks for sharing your comments. I always go out of my way to hear good Real Country Music. I have always loved to hear you sing. I love to hear your Son Hawshaw Hawkins Jr sing, he has a great Country Music voice. I have read your book “Down Through The Years” at least six times already. I appreciate you signing my copy. My son, Joe Wade Smith, lives in Nashville now. He is a friend of your Son’s. Bless you and you are truly one of Country”s Great Singers. Always love to listen to your Grand Ole Opry segments. One of your many fans, Ron Smith.
November 8, 2015 @ 10:05 am
Country music today is definitely not country. I do not attend concerts anymore because I do not want to pay for or watch smoke blowing up on the stage, lights so bright I can not see the performer and the way they dress. It was always exciting to see men in sparkling or well trimmed suits, women in long sparkly dresses—- that was part of country music. Then the singer was a true country singer and I do not mean rock, soft rock, singing words one cannot hear are understand and suffocates the sound where true country music was a story being told that one could hear, value and be touched from the heart. I do not like what they call true country music so I do not listen to it or spend any of my money for concert tickets. I think it is such a shame that such a legend as true country music has disappeared.
November 8, 2015 @ 12:37 pm
Amen! Thanks for telling the truth People dont want to hear the truth about any thing any more.. I don’t like the new country and I’m not old! but I grew up on Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn…. and the old artist that I still love today… every now and then you will hear a good new country song straight from the heart.. but not often… Love you Jean Shepard for your music and what you stand for .. I love singing your songs… I have always wanted to see you in person…. God Bless …
November 8, 2015 @ 1:50 pm
Country is telling a story with heart and truth. Get a grip, it hasn’t truly changed so much!
May 18, 2016 @ 4:59 pm
To be honest, I actually don´t mind Pop, Rock, or any other genre of music being mixed in with Country, but I have my limits. Good on Ms. Shepard to speak her mind though.
May 31, 2016 @ 7:55 pm
I pretty much agree with what was said here. I don’t get why Jason Aldean is so popular. He has no voice and every song sounds the same…no variation! I listen to Sirius/XM Willie’s Roadhouse…as soon as the song starts I know who the singer is….none of these new stars today will ever have that sort of longevity. Many that were around a year or so ago are gone already. Sad….real CW music is gone and replaced by morons in the record business who is only trying to make a buck. Hopefully, it will die and we will get out of the bullseye and only real country artists will remain and the Aldeans, Lukes, Swindell’s etc can go away…and take Eric Church too.
July 9, 2016 @ 9:42 pm
I will forever be old country. This stuff they call country now is a poor excuse for the real thing. I miss the likes of Merle, Mel Tillis, Roy Clark, Jean Shepard, Jan Howard and many more. We’ve lost so many of the greats.
September 5, 2016 @ 2:31 am
Country music isn’t country anymore. I got my feel of it a long time ago. I agree with Jean Shepard hold heartily. She is Right. My husband and I had a country band together for about 15 years, we played all the classics, and loved every minute of it. I truly wish that country music would be country again.