Updated: Dec 17, 2019
When I was a late elementary school student, I found a love for country music. I fell in love with the stories, the people, the meanings behind the songs, everything. I started out loving it by liking Taylor Swift (when she was still considered country), but soon started to listen to the music on The Big 98 in Nashville, which exposed me to a variety of other artists. I still remember the first three songs that really got me into the genre: "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert, "Springsteen" by Eric Church, & "Dirt Road Anthem" by Jason Aldean (I used to think that I would get in trouble for listening to this Jason Aldean song when it came on the radio in 6th grade, so I would shut my door before turning it up ALL the way so I could dance around to it!). I also listened to the American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks every week (if possible). My Hello Kitty teacup alarm clock sure did hear a lot of country music within a few years!
Once I moved to Alabama, I had country music to hold onto as a piece of home back in Tennessee. I found myself not able to listen to "The House That Built Me" any longer without crying. That song came into my life in a time when I needed it most: first when I found out I was moving & then later when I was gone from home & wanting to hold onto the past. Country music showed me my passion, my calling for life: to write & create. I've always been a music kid, but country music showed me what I wanted to write about in my songs, how my style sounded, and what I wanted to do with my life, which is to work in the country music industry & support the music that has helped me grow so much over the years.
Ever since I discovered country music as a late elementary school student, I've had one huge dream. When I was in middle school, I wrote this dream down on a "List of Things I Want To Accomplish By The Time I'm 16" goals list. That dream? To go to the CMA Awards. While I didn't quite live out this dream by the time I was 16, I did live it out last week: Your girl, Grace Cathey, went to the 52nd annual CMA AWARDS!
Y'all, it was incredible. I got an email & by God's amazing grace, I got to attend the CMA Awards as a mosh pit filler! If you watched the awards, I was in the standing audience on the right side of the back stage where Luke Combs & Old Dominion played, along with Thomas Rhett at the beginning of his performance. This opportunity was once in a lifetime & it was something that I probably never would have been able to do had it not been for God. Isn't that SO COOL? Honestly, I was very stressed out the days before the awards with exams & life, but once I got to Nashville, I remembered why I was putting myself through all that stress: to get a degree in music business so I would be able to permanently live out my dreams that I had since I was in elementary school.
I always prepare for the worst in situations like this where there are so many components involved, but I jut put my trust in the fact that I knew God had everything under control & it WORKED, y'all! When we got to the arena that afternoon to get our wristbands, it was raining. When we went to get dinner & came back outside, it was still raining. After the awards? You guessed it- STILL raining. It was very cold in Nashville on November 14th & to top it all off, I ran the toe of my shoe into a metal barricade on the way to the car after the awards, which made my heel fall into a freezing cold water puddle & by big toe ram straight into the foot of the barricade, but I honestly didn't care because my DREAMS were coming true & that's what Nashville is all about.
Thousands of people move to Nashville every year for a dream. Most people move here for music, but it could be anything: college, a new job, a new home, a chance to start over & become who you always wanted to be. It's a big city, but feels like a small town at the same time. For me, Nashville holds a future that I've always dreamed of, a future where I can help songwriters & artists & creatives reach their goals. I can write my blog or new songs & have my voice be heard by both a local & a national audience, all while having support from so many during the process. Nashville helps you discover both who you are & who you want to become, which is incredible.
As I was soaking in the CMA Awards, I noticed the people in the front of the room: the COOL people. Artists, producers, songwriters, label executives, managers- the list can go on & on. These people in the front of the room had the same dream at one time that I did, yet we both accomplished it (though in slightly different ways) on the same night together. Many people talk about the country music community as a family & for the longest time, it only seemed like a phrase. However, since I started college & have had the opportunity to attend industry events, I've realized just how true that statement is. The country music community IS a family & I got to be a part of it, if only for one night. I got to stand on the floor of the arena with them, I got to pass some of them when I was walking places backstage (aka to the bathroom- sooo glamorous), & I got to feel important.
There was a magic in the air on November 14th. I saw a couple get ENGAGED during a commercial break for the awards (!!!). I watched as Karen Fairchild from Little Big Town got excited as she said, "Well, to any little girls watching this who want to become songwriters, don't give up on your dream because the winner for Album of the Year goes to Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves!" to which me & five other girls in the standing audience started screaming so loud out of excitement because #GIRLSSUPPORTGIRLS. I witnessed Keith Urban, an artist that I look up to immensely as both a performer & person, receive Entertainer of the Year for the first time since 2005, an award that he has, in my opinion, deserved to receive for a long time. I made some great memories with my friend, Bri, & also met some really nice new people along the way.
People got awards at this show & gave speeches, so I think it's only proper that I give one to close out this post.
stop me, barricade, you can't break & people, you can't change me. I got to live to live out my 10 year dream last week & that is magic.I want to thank God for this opportunity & for always putting me in the right place at the right time. To my mom, dad, sister, & the rest of my family & friends: thank you for believing in me, even when I didn't. Thank you to CMA & Audience Company Nashville for letting me have this opportunity. I want to thank Bri Riley for going to the awards with me & being an incredible friend. Thank you Dillard's for having this gorgeous dress on the racks for me to buy & wear here tonight. I want to tell my 10-year-old self & any other kid out there to use your talents for good. Write about whatever you're feeling. Don't be sorry for being who you are. Finally, to the rain, the metal barricade that is still making my toe hurt as I write this, & the people who told me country music sucks- I'm sorry, but you're wrong. You're wrong because rain, you can't me,