Jennifer Nettles is about to make history as the first country artist to ever perform at Lincoln Center.
Her historic performance will take place at Alice Tully Hall during “A Night of Country Under City Lights” on Friday, May 32, during which she’ll receive the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund Media and Entertainment Council’s prestigious Artist Impact Award for her years of philanthropic work with the Human Rights Campaign and 4-H organization.
The honor follows the release of her impactful single, “I Can Do Hard Things,” and its accompanying music video, which spotlights the difficult obstacles that women often have to overcome in order to succeed together.
Ahead of her celebratory night in the Big Apple, the Grammy-winning singer and one-half of Sugarland caught up with AOL’s Gibson Johns to share her thoughts on receiving the Artist Impact Award, the importance of giving back and the growing influence of country music into new parts of the country.
Check out our conversation with Jennifer Nettles below:
Congrats on this honor! How does it feel to be honored with the Artist Impact Award for your philanthropic work?
The more life I live, the more enriching my philanthropic work becomes. We all want to leave a legacy of positivity and compassion. We all want to make beautiful change and touch the lives of others. Art is one way to do that. But there are many more. To receive an award based on my work to help others is deeply meaningful to me and is something of which I am truly proud.
What about the Human Rights Campaign and its work resonates so deeply with you?
We are all born with the right to be respected and protected, not “in spite” of our differences, but, in my opinion, because of our differences. That’s a beautiful part of what makes us human and soulful and even American. The Human Rights Campaign, with its focus on the LGBTQ community, works tirelessly to ensure that protection and respect and dignity are offered and represented within governments and communities all over the world. I want to be a part of that in any way I can.
The response to “I Can Do Hard Things” and its accompanying video has been so wonderful. What have people said to you about its impact on them?
My favorite responses to ICDHT come from those people who have claimed it as their own anthem. Those sweet, brave souls who have shared their own stories of the hard things they are doing each and every day.
You’re also set to become one of the first country artists to perform at Lincoln Center, which is wild. Why do you think they haven’t had more country in the city?
In the past, I believe country music was more popular throughout other parts of the country. For years it was stereotyped, some by its own hand, as rural or southern and even skewed older in its fan base. Today that is not the case. Art and music continue to evolve in ways that our influences become enmeshed and intertwined toward so many diverse inspirations. Today people from all walks of life, all demographics, all over the country, including New York City, have begun discovering, and celebrating the growing diversity in country music.
What about country music allows it to touch so many people on such an emotional level?
Regardless of how it is produced or packaged, country music remains the genre for the story within the song. While there are many songs about young love even in country music, there are just as many songs about deep truths, heartbreak, growing up, loss of innocence, losing friends and loved ones, trials and failures, growing up, having children, you name it. We are all complex hearts with full, complex lives. Our stories don’t begin and end in the club. Country music celebrates all of those stories