Kacey Musgraves: More to country than trucks, tailgates

Country singer Kacey Musgraves.
Courtesy Kelly Christine Musgraves

(CBS News) One country singer you're going to be hearing a lot about is a small town girl named Kacey Musgraves. With Anthony Mason we take note . . .

Kacey Musgraves began songwriting at age nine. "I think it was called 'Notice Me,' " she said.

Well, she's been noticed now. At 24, Kacey Musgraves is suddenly one of music's most talked-about young artists.

The Texan's first major-label album, "Same Trailer Different Park," just debuted at #1 on the Billboard country chart and at #2 on the pop chart (just behind Justin Timberlake).

Her song, "Merry Go 'Round," sounds like nothing else in country music. Rolling Stone called it a "spectacular gut-punch single."

Musically it's fairly traditional -- it's the lyrics that are different. "Almost like you're trying to sneak in," said Mason.

"Yeah, a little bit," she laughed. "It's like 'Oh, see what I did there?' It sounds really traditional! But, oh, it's not."

"Merry Go 'Round" describes the often suffocating life of a small town. For notoriously conservative country radio, the song was on the edge:

If you ain't got two kids by 21,
You're probably gonna die alone.
Least that's what tradition told you.
And it don't matter if you don't believe,
Come Sunday morning, you best be there in the front row like you're supposed to.
Same hurt in every heart.
Same trailer, different park.

Mama's hooked on Mary Kay.
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane.
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary, Mary quite contrary.
We get bored, so, we get married
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
Where it stops nobody knows and it ain't slowin' down.
This merry go 'round.

Musgraves said she's never tried to provoke radio: "But I guess I didn't mind if I did."

It did make her record label nervous. "They were wary" of releasing "Merry Go 'Round," she said. "I stood up and I was just like, 'No, this has to be the single. This is what I want to say. If I have one thing to say to the world as a songwriter, then I want to say this."

It paid off in a gold record.

The song helped earn her four Academy of Country Music Award nominations, including Best Female Artist. It's a moment Musgraves has been rehearsing for for a long time.

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Hear an excerpt from "Silver Lining" by Kacey Musgraves by clicking on the audio player below.

At home in Golden, Texas, population 398, Kacey's mother, Karen Musgraves, has kept a scrapbook of her daughter's career, such as her first head shot.

Kacey started performing at age 10. "She used to sing at nursing homes, too," her mother recalled. "You can see how excited they are."

In nearby Mineola, Kacey would sing at the Select Movie Theater - a stage she remembers, at the time, as seeming "so huge and scary." Even from an early age, she says she never took performing lightly.

She took guitar lessons from age 12 to 17, every week. Her teacher, John DeFoore (who also taught another young country star, Miranda Lambert), said Musgraves showed an early talent for songwriting.

So none of her success surprises him? "The fame does only because that's so, I mean, there's a million killer writers out there that don't get it, ya know?" DeFoore told Mason. "But she had the voice, the look, her personality, and the persistence. A lot of people give up."

WEB EXCLUSIVE: In this preview video, country music sensation Kacey Musgraves and her guitar instructor, John DeFoore, perform her hit, "Merry Go 'Round." (Click on the player below.)


Kacey's grandmother, Barbara Musgraves, did have a problem with one song she thought was a little racy. "So I said to Kacey, 'I think that sounds like a slut song,' " she recalled to Mason. "And she loved that -- now she uses my line all the time."

But Musgraves says she couldn't have made it without her family.

"Everyone has had their hand in along the way helping, you know. Makes me want to cry when I'm thinking about it."