'My Kind of Country': Mickey Guyton, Jimmie Allen, Orville Peck scout for diverse voices
From Asia to Central America and back to Nashville, country music goes global on Apple TV+'s new talent scouting show "My Kind of Country."
Co-produced by Tennessee native Reese Witherspoon and ace singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves, "My Kind of Country" (streaming Friday on AppleTV+) gives the ever-popular singing competition format a globe-trotting twist by recruiting would-be crooners from South Africa, Mexico and India – countries often overlooked in the Music Row hitmaking ecosystem.
Showrunners enlist a trio of talent scouts – Jimmie Allen, Orville Peck and Mickey Guyton – known for breaking barriers in a format overrun for decades by straight white men. Throughout the eight-episode season, a dozen contestants decamp to Nashville to work with the coaches. In turn, eliminations take place until the season finale, when the trio crowns a "My Kind of Country" winner.
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"The great unifier is music, the love of country music," says Allen, who in 2019 became the first Black man to reach No. 1 on country radio with a debut single ("Best Shot"). "The cool thing is watching and hearing some of these artists take the country music they know and infuse it with their culture, bring their own flavor to it."
Showcasing the sonic and geographic elasticity of Nashville's best-known export, Guyon, Allen and Peck recruit artists like The Congo Cowboys, a South African trio blending Americana with African influence; Dhruv Visvanath, an Indian picker with subtle indie-pop touches; and Ismay, a nonbinary American rooted in bluegrass music.
The contestants work with judges at Dark Horse Recording, a studio where Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson and Reba McEntire have recorded.
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"The thing that was really inspiring to me – and I think all of us – was watching these 12 artists travel across the globe and put themselves out there and be vulnerable," says Peck, a masked, gay country singer raised in South Africa. "(They) just get thrown into this crazy mix. And us asking them to show us who they are? It's just so brave."
Still, it's a competition. As heartbreaking as it may be for those on the show, someone goes home each episode.
"We don't call them contestants, we call them artists – because they are," says "Black Like Me" hitmaker Guyton. "We did get really, really close to them. It was so hard sending people home."
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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: 'My Kind of Country' on Apple: Mickey Guyton, Jimmie Allen scout globe