After a year of absence, The Chris Top Program came back to the Nashville scene during the 2019 CMA Fest. Much healthier versions of ourselves gave 26 interviews in 3 days, with the WOBA Award ceremony taking place on the last night of the music fest. Each of these artists were independent up and comers, which is what I love about our show. It's a chance for them to have a voice in a world that drowns them out with the artists who've already "made it" so to speak.
But "made it" is a term I use loosely now, because after this year's CMA Fest, I'm convinced that the American dream has shifted gears. For country music artists in particular, it's no longer about making millions while riding on their fancy boats. While making it to the Grand Ole Opry is definitely a goal of theirs, they often admit that their definition of success is just being able to make a living doing what they love to do. Today's artists starve for a life that means more than just flipping burgers and dealing with entitled customers. A humble life of making just enough to get by but still only doing their dream job is their ultimate goal. Plus, they don't have to worry about all the famous people problems that land them in tabloids.
Big houses, expensive clothes, boats, jets, and the million dollar lifestyle is a "eh, that would be really cool and I'd be so grateful if that happened, but honestly I can't do anymore of this 'not living my dream' thing. I just want to live my dream." Type of thing.
I've also learned that the indie artist scene is not even remotely as cutthroat as the media would like you to believe.
I have never once witnessed a hostile situation between these artists, and if there is any drama, it's kept on the down low and nobody is throwing shade on social media. I've seen indie artists attend other indie artists shows and go bonkers in the crowd when they perform. They buy each other's songs and merch. They even voted for each other in an online voting competition we hosted for The Chris Top Program. Even when they compete against each other, they don't treat it as a competition. When I asked independent artist Alayna Carroll why she felt the country music indie artist scene was more positive and less cutthroat, she had this to say:
"It’s not perfect all the time, but I think part of it may have to do with Nashville being in the south. More manners and down home hospitality! Everyone’s just really nice. And you don’t just get to the “top” by yourself. Everyone you meet teaches you something!"
Again, it's not necessarily about who can get rich and famous, but about lifting each other up so they can all live their dreams. Alayna and so many others long for the same thing, and because they're all in the same boat, they understand that feeling of needing to live as your true self 24/7.
I had so much fun this year at the CMA Fest, and came away a different person. I'm inspired now more than ever to live for those dreams and push harder to make them happen; even if I don't end up buying Chris and I a mansion on a hill with an ocean view. I just want to live my dreams and be happy, and I'll support anyone trying to do the same.
Check out Alayna and her kick butt music! If you enjoy darker tastes in country music, you'll love her songs like Crime Scene, Wicked City, and Chemical Imbalances, where she gets real about her mental health. So go buy some of her music! It costs just about as much as a cup of coffee, and you'll help her live out her dreams.