Jean Shepard Speaks Out: ‘Today’s Country Is Not Country’
Jean Shepard knows a thing or two about country music; after all, in addition to her numerous singles and albums, she's been a part of the Grand Ole Opry for 60 years. But the singer isn't happy with today's country music, and she's not afraid to say so.
“I’m very adamant about how I feel about country music. And I don’t care who knows it, I’ll tell the world. Country music today is not the country music of yesterday," Shepard, the longest-tenured member of the Opry's current cast, tells the Tennessean. "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.”
The country icon is 81 years old and not interested in mincing words -- especially on a subject about which she's extremely passionate.
“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.”
With a total of 24 studio albums and more than 70 singles to her name, Shepard's got quite the legacy in the industry. She's been a member of the Grand Old Opry since Nov. 21, 1955, and was a 2011 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Shepard hasn't performed at the Opry in almost a year, due to health issues, but on Nov. 21, the 60th anniversary of her induction, the hallowed organization will celebrate her.
“Sixty years ago, I loved what the Grand Ole Opry stood for,” she says. “I still love what it stands for, but not quite so much. Isn’t it terrible being so truthful?”
The "A Dear John Letter" hitmaker adds, "I’m truly thinking about retiring in a couple months. It’s been the hardest decision I’ve ever made, to think about walking away from something I love so much.”
Shepard released an autobiography in 2014, Down Through the Years, which detailed her personal and professional life throughout the "golden age of country music."