Inspired by the success of country singers like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, thousands of young, blonde female singers have begun migrating to Music City to seek their fortunes. On any given day, at least 30 new hopefuls arrive on Greyhound busses, planes, or in Volkswagen Jettas, and swarm uptown to join all the other would-be vocalists trying to get record deals on Music Row, causing traffic tie-ups and interruptions of normal record company business.
On Tuesday afternoon, I spoke to Brandi Lee, a recent transplant from Fargo, North Dakota, who was dressed in pink cowboy boots and a hat with a pink feather, clutching a demo cd in front of Warner Brothers Records. “Everyone is so nice here!” she said, “I’ve already met 5 guys who said they wanted to produce me!” Brandi was voted “best singer” at Fargo High School, and was encouraged to come to Nashville by the great response she got when she sat in with “The Norwegian Cowboys” at her local VFW hall. “I want to be just like Carrie Underwood,” she said. “I’ve even been practicing switching hands on the microphone after every line, just like she does!”
But local record executive Bob Postadella says that Brandi and other cute young blonde singers have a tough road ahead. “There are only three major record companies left after all the mergers, and each record company has a quota of just one cute blonde girl singer, which they have already filled. So really, their only option is to sign with one of the independent labels, such as Buttcrack Records or Third Door On The Left And Down The Stairs Records.”
On Sunday night, which is “open mic” night at the famed Bluebird Café, mobs of young blonde women gather to try to get chance to sing two songs for the audience of other blonde women and their friends and family. Although Garth Brooks was signed to his record contract after being seen at the Bluebird, record and publishing executives stay away on Sunday nights. “Are you kidding?” one said, “Those little barracudas would tear me apart if they found out I work for a record company.”
Increasing the difficulty of finding success for blonde girl singers is the fact that there are very few women artists on the country charts right now. A highly-placed Sony executive confided, “We’re only looking for good-looking guys in hats, who sing about partying down on the farm with their rowdy friends around a bonfire, and driving their pickup to the creek to go skinny-dipping with good-ol’ country girls. We won’t need another cute blonde girl singer until Carrie retires in about 30 years.”
Meanwhile, all those wanna-be girl singers are clogging Lower Broad during rush hour, hoping to get into Tootsies and other local bars to “sit in” with the band, and possibly be discovered. Local police have their hands full trying to keep the blonde singers from wandering off the sidewalk and into traffic, especially after downing a few Hurricanes at Margaritaville. “We’ve had to Taser a couple of ‘em,” said one cop.
Country star hopeful Amber Lee sits on a stool at Tootsies, hand around a warm can of Budweiser, tapping her toes to the band. In a few minutes, she will get up and sing an off-key version of Patsy Clines’ “Crazy” for the tourists, truckers, and folks missing teeth that crowd the bar. “I just want to be famous,” she says. “And I’ve got the perfect kind of hair to do it.”