The country stars opened up about the importance and presence of representation in the genre.
Trail-blazing country musicians Jimmie Allen, Mickey Guyton and Orville Peck are coming together for a new music reality competition series, My Kind of Country, from executive producers, Reese Witherspoon and Kacey Musgraves. And this groundbreaking series is looking to change the landscape for country music.
ET's Cassie DiLaura recently sat down with Allen, Guyton and Peck to talk about the upcoming series, which features country music artists from around the globe battling it out to become the genre's next biggest star.
However, My Kind of Country has put a lot more emphasis on compassion and inclusion than drama, bitterness or competitiveness.
"With the show in general, we took a lot of care, so it wasn’t gonna be sort of produced and scripted [to have] kind of drama or things like that," Peck shared. "I mean, we were just there, invested in these twelve incredible artists, seeing what they could do."
"You know, [having been] on one of those shows, the waiting, the nerves, I didn’t always feel good about myself in that kind of a role," shared Guyton, who once competed on American Idol. "There was just so much pressure. And I wanted to handle these artists with care, especially in today’s climate. You know, mental health is so important and that’s something that I really wanted to make sure [we paid attention to]."
"Because, I mean, nobody takes 'no' well, and that was something that was contingent upon [me] being a part of the show," she added. "Not only do we need to take care of the artists, we need to take care of the artists after the show as well."
Each of the three country stars who are serving as judges and musical mentors on the show know what it's like to struggle as they came up and gained fame. Allen spent 11 years trying to get a record deal, during which time he lived in his car; Guyton is the first Black female solo artist ever to receive a Grammy nomination in a country category. And Peck, who has cultivated an enigmatic air by never being seen without a fringe mask covering his face. In the trailer for the show, Peck explained his decision to always cover his face, sharing, "My mask allows me to be more vulnerable and share my perspective as a gay country artist."
Coming from these long-unrepresented groups, Peck told ET that the trio often discussed the influence the show could have on increasing diversity and representation in the industry.
"I mean, we talked about it among each other constantly on set, 'cause it just felt so rewarding to be able to you know we have all sort of faced our own issues, in this genre especially, and in this industry we had to forge our own paths," Peck shared. "So being able to sort of help these young artists get there, easier than maybe we did, or like impart some wisdom of what we learned along the way, felt so rewarding and was such a pleasure."
Guyton explained that being on the show was something that benefitted each of the contestants with unequaled experience.
"They got to be around some really, really incredible, influential people that are change makers within this genre and within their own careers, and they got that firsthand," Guyton said. "Like, a lot of us didn’t [get that]."
When it comes to the representation of different voices, cultures, genders, races, Guyton said that country music still has "a long way to go," but shows like My Kind of Country are helping and the industry is evolving.
"It’s happening slowly but surely. There are multiple Black artists, Black Latino artists that are getting signed to major record deals now, and 10 years ago that was not even a conversation," she shared. "So there’s something happening."
"I definitely feel the tide changing," Allen added.
For Allen, the opportunities for mentorship and guidance are one of the main reasons he wanted to be a part of the show.
Allen explained that he tries to reach out to new artists he meets in Nashville, and shares some key advice. "I tell every artist, 'Listen man, no matter where you go people are gonna have ideas and opinions on who you should be. They can have opinions but they can’t they don’t control you they don’t control how hard you work,'" Allen explained. "So the best way to quiet rejection is put out hits and eventually, you know, it will find its way and help so many [other] new artists out."
My Kind of Country will begin streaming exclusively on Apple TV+ starting Friday, Mar. 24.