Of course many of us are drawn in by the hair. Connie Britton has such a fandom for her stunning red locks that her follicles have their own Tumbler, Twitter handle, and style guides. I was completely surprised to discover that in addition to her crowning glory and solid acting chops, Connie Britton also can really sing.
When it comes to the cast of Nashville there are no fakers with musical talent. We may be hearing a studio recording during the broadcast, but every actor who has been cast as a musical performer on the show is the one responsible for their own vocal performance. The show, based in the heart of the country music scene, is solidly within its second season and is showing no signs of fading or slowing down.
Not every show with a heavy, musical backbone successfully connects to an audience the way Nashville has. Fox’s Glee came out strong and bold and instantly resonated with fans every week. The story lines on Glee truly resonated with the young audience and the inclusion of familiar songs done in chorus mash-ups seemed to revive a style of music so well that reality shows with a cappella groups began to pop up on other networks.
Other shows started as camp from the get-go and tried to force-feed stories without much success. NBC’s Smash felt like it was going to start well. I know I was super excited about it because: Show tunes! The show lasted two seasons and with every new episode I began to cringe. The New Yorker tried to explain the difference between two musicals on primetime, “Unlike Glee, which trades in fantasy, Smash was a musical series set in something resembling reality, which meant that its plausibility suffered a death by a thousand cuts.”
Nothing about Smash felt fun to me. The actors seemed bored and the storyline just did not go anywhere exciting. I also didn’t feel invested in the actors of Smash, which didn’t seem like a big deal until I noticed the difference I felt watching Nashville, a show where I genuinely did want to know what the actors did when they weren’t on set.
Let’s look at Connie Britton: On Nashville she plays the established legend country star, Rayna James. Everything her character does is for her family and her music. Off set Connie was just named a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations Development Programme. Michael O’Neil, the UNDP Director for External Relations, says, “Connie is passionately committed to humanitarian causes and she will be a great partner for UNDP, helping us raise awareness of development issues amongst the American and global public.”
Many of the stars have made homes for themselves in Nashville and dedicate off-time to the city. Charles Esten and Clare Bowen (who play Deacon Claybourne and Scarlett O’Connor on the show) are currently involved with a local teen music festival.
Whenever I see Lennon and Maisy Stella in a scene as Rayna’s daughters, I get excited and hopeful that they will sing. It was only two years ago that most of us heard about these sisters from Canada when their cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” blew our minds.
It’s these sort of little ripples of connection that bring fans in to the show every week. It’s what propels fans to download songs after new shows air. The first season of “The Music of Nashville” debuted at 14 on the Billboard 200 and it was the number 2 selling album in the city of Nashville the week it came out — that certainly says something!
With a solid TV fan base and a growing music fan base, a lot of people were thrilled at the news announced by ABC last week: Nashville is going on a mini-tour! Dawn Soler, the senior VP of TV music at ABC Entertainment Group says, “We’re thrilled to have an opportunity to showcase our artists in a live setting where fans can enjoy the music from the show in a more intimate setting.”
You won’t be able to see Connie Britton or Hayden Panettiere, but Charles Esten, Clare Bowen, Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio, Will Chase and Chris Carmack will be performing in Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and New York this spring. That means you can see Deacon, Scarlett, Avery, Gunnar, and Will. (Luke will be at the New York show.)
The season is winding down, but it’s not fizzling out. We still have a Hayden Panettiere special on April 23rd and the big finale on May 14th.
Image Credit: @Nashville_ABC