Few country music careers have evolved as quickly in size, style, shape and scope as that of Kacey Musgraves. From meticulously-produced stage shows to more intimate and stripped-down affairs, Musgraves has proved time and time again she knows how to entertain a crowd.
Before selling out stadiums and reaching critical acclaim, Musgraves’ first big break as a solo artist came in 2012 when she signed a recording deal with Mercury. Just a few months later, she released her major-label debut album, Same Trailer Different Park. The album and its standout single “Merry Go Round” earned plenty of buzz in the industry and quickly built a dedicated fan following. In 2015, Musgraves released her highly-anticipated follow-up record Pageant Material in 2015, which included her first duet with her musical hero Willie Nelson.
In 2018, things started to really kick into high gear for Musgraves following the release of her third record, Golden Hour. The project showcased a new, evolved sound for the singer-songwriter. Instead of relying on traditional country instrumentation, Musgraves branched out creatively and included unexpected musical elements, including synths, vocoders and disco beats. The cross-genre hit earned widespread praise from both critics and fans alike, earning Musgraves a list of accolades that included the coveted title of Album of the Year award at the 2018 Grammys and CMA Awards. For the project, instead of relying on country-friendly instruments, Musgraves branched out to synths, vocoders and disco beats.
A few years and one global pandemic later, Musgraves delivered another well-received collection of songs, 2021’s Star-Crossed. The emotional project serves as a conceptual retelling of the singer’s divorce from singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly. Musgraves uses her familiar base of country music storytelling and builds upon it, using a variety of influences that range from Aretha Franklin to Spanish folk music.
Want to see Musgraves’ impressive career evolution for yourself? Scroll through the photos below to see some of the country star’s best live shots.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally written by Christina Vinson and amended by Courtney Carr.