This essay explores white masculinity and the recuperation of privilege in the figure of Sturgill Simpson, an American country music singer from Jackson, Kentucky. Operating at the intersection of country music studies and third wave whiteness studies, it demonstrates how Simpson deploys the outsider identity of the industry outlaw to recuperate insider benefits of critical acclaim, commercial success, and creative license. As an artist who makes country music for “people who don't like country music,” Simpson functions as a representative figure of the adaptive tactics of white masculinity and the broader politics of inclusion and exclusion in contemporary country music.
Country Music for People Who Don't Like Country Music: Sturgill Simpson and Outlaw Privilege
Adam Hollowell is senior research associate at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University and faculty director of the Benjamin N. Duke Memorial Scholarship Program. He received his Ph.D. in theological ethics from the University of Edinburgh. His teaching and research focus broadly on ethics, race, religion, and public policy.
Alexandria Miller is a doctoral student at Brown University in Africana Studies. She earned her B.A. with distinction in African & African American Studies and History from Duke University in 2017. Her research interests include social movements, Caribbean performance art and music, and Afro-Jamaican women's protest. Miller's current research explores the history of Jamaican reggae and contemporary music culture and activism. She is also the U.S. editor of BASHY Magazine, a quarterly digital and print publication on Jamaica and its diaspora. In 2018, Miller was selected as one of the 30 Under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leaders by the Institute of Caribbean Studies.
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Adam Hollowell, Alexandria Miller; Country Music for People Who Don't Like Country Music: Sturgill Simpson and Outlaw Privilege. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 December 2019; 31 (4): 121–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2019.31.4.121
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