RADIO DISNEY - Radio Disney's Vice President, Programming and General Manager, Phil Guerini, was joined by some of country music's youngest rising stars Maddie & Tae (Dot Records), Kelsea Ballerini (Black River Entertainment) and Hunter Hayes (Atlantic Records) to help announce Radio Disney Country at CMA Fest on Friday, June 12. The modern, multi-platform country music-focused network for families launches this fall. (Disney Channel/Chris Hollo) PHIL GUERINI (VP, PROGRAMMING AND GENERAL MANAGER, RADIO DISNEY), MADDIE & TEA, KELSEA BALLERINI, HUNTER HAYES

If you are caught up with your Disney Channel/Radio Disney news (same division…ya learn something new everyday!), you know that Radio Disney recently announced they would be unveiling a country station come fall. “What does this mean? How will it be available? Will Patsy Cline be introduced to 9 year-olds?!” All of these questions are ones you are pondering right now, so let me go ahead and answer a couple.

The station, as announced in a press release, will be country focused and for families (Yeah, OK…by families they mean their 10 year-olds who LOVE that Kelsea Ballerini). The station will “live on the Radio Disney app, as well as on third party digital platforms” and will be unveiled in November in conjunction with the CMA Awards (aka my Super Bowl). They will be playing hits from Maddie & Tae, The Band Perry, Hunter Hayes and others.

This is all GREAT news for the crazy country music fan within me. Disney and country are my two loves. Now, I like certain country. I don’t enjoy bro-country or the new influx of “Let’s take a pop/R&B song, add a banjo, and call it country!” tunes. I’m a country fan who enjoys Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood, but also Loretta Lynn & Dolly Parton. Being able to introduce young’ns to a genre that prides itself on good songs with great stories/messages is a fantastic thought in my book, especially with the Disney company involved.

Disney has a great relationship with country music currently, thanks to their reopening of their Nashville branch of Hollywood Records, along with ABC’s contract to air the CMA Awards and CMA Fest. In the past, Disney has had country music themed influences in many films, I would argue dating back to “Lavender Blue” from So Dear To My Heart. More recently, the underrated soundtrack to Home on the Range features some great tunes by k.d. lang and Tim McGraw. The album also features the brilliance and heartbreak of “Will The Sun Ever Shine Again” by Bonnie Raitt, which is a gorgeous song, country or otherwise.

As far as mainstream country music goes, I’m a huge fan of Kacey Musgraves. Her new album, Pageant Material, hits me like a freight train with its 50s-style country music, gorgeous lyrics, and stunning voice. She is everything I love about the genre. Recently, she posted this picture on Instagram.

https://instagram.com/p/2cfdZLjmxX/

This makes me question EVERYTHING! So many things could happen with this type of news! After I read this, then cried for about 45 minutes, I tried to figure out what this could be for. Maybe she could be doing some soundtrack work for The Good Dinosaur, which feels like country music would fit in with, or Zootopia, as she did say Disney and not Pixar. That seemed plausible, but so did the thought of Kacey doing a song for The Finest Hours, an upcoming film about a coast guard recscue from the 1950s. That decade is something that Kacey’s music sways towards, and it seems like a story that would lend itself well to the genre.

As I was spitballing ideas (A new attraction theme song? WILL HER DETAILS BE SHARED AT THE EXPO?!) and crying some more, thinking about how fantastic it is that Disney is working with my favorite artist of all-time, I was reminded of a project Kacey would’ve fit brilliantly with, and that is My Peoples.

This film, those of you may know, was set in 1950s Appalachia and told the story of two hand drawn humans who are trying to connect through folk art gifts. After a spell turns all the folk art into CGI animated moving-and-talking figures, the simple plan goes off the tracks. The film went kind of far into production, but when the Orlando animation studio was closed, the project fell away. They even had cast attached at that point, with Dolly Parton voicing Angel, the main folk art piece, and providing bluegrass and country music for the film. (Here’s a great article on the film’s trials and tribulations, along with some gorgeous concept art. Photo courtesy of animatedviews.com)

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With WDAS currently in a renaissance, combined with some really imaginative ideas coming out from them and Pixar, this film suits them SO well. A mix of CGI and hand drawn, plus a bluegrass/country musical, plus unique characters and simple/beautiful story. I have said it for years, and I’ll say it again…this film needs to be brought back from the grave. It is so different, so unique, so inventive and, if marketed well, could be the next big thing for the company. WDAS would bank on this film. Kacey’s music would suit the film perfectly, and should be added to the mix if this film ever returns.

Country and Disney. They make the would go round. Do you agree with the My Peoples resurrection? What are your thoughts of Disney and Country? Let me know!