By Julia Carney and Destiny Johnson
When people are asked what kind of music they listen to, their response is usually along the lines of “anything but country.” On May 2, Dr. Nadine Hubbs joined CSUSB students and faculty members to help them understand the complex reasons surrounding these opinions.
Conversations on Diversity is an event held three times a year by the University Diversity Committee of CSUSB. Guest speakers are invited to talk about diversity.
For this event, the University Diversity Committee welcomed Dr. Nadine Hubbs to speak on “What Country Music Can Teach Us about Sex, Race, Class, and Immigration in America.”
She made it clear that her presentation was not only aimed towards country music lovers but haters as well.
Dr. Hubbs has a doctorate in music theory and teaches women’s studies and music at the University of Michigan.
Hubbs is an expert on queerness and country music, having written “Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music”. She is currently conducting research for her next book, “Country Mexicans: Sounding Mexican American Life”, “Love and Belonging in Country Music”.
Hubbs graced the stage of the SMSU wearing a pair of jeans, cowboy boots, and a pearl snaps western button up.
As a musicologist, Hubbs is focused on whatever she is interested in but says that she is always listening to music to understand any issues.
“I’m going to think my way through questions and problems with music sitting right there beside me,” said Hubbs.
Identifying as Queer, Hubbs has faced homophobia in both a rural hometown setting and in a college academic setting. She explained how societal attitudes are constantly evolving.
Hubbs explains that after the 1970’s the working class was demonized for being queer haters. However, the middle class was able to keep their power and stay on top of the social class ladder.
Her presentation acknowledged the “anything but country” attitude by saying that “popular music shapes society and society shapes popular music.”
Hubbs also argues that country music is often denied due to its association with the white working class and the class’ association with bigotry.
She explains that people deny country music to protect their social credibility, which serves as a rejection of a certain group in society.
Many of the attendees did speak up during the event to admit that they associate country music fans with Trump supporters.
However, with her new book, Hubbs hopes to show that there are many Mexican country music fans who find a sense of American pride in some of the more patriotic songs.
She also played a few country songs for the audience. These songs included “Humble and Kind” by Tim Mcgraw and “Most People Are Good” by Luke Bryan.
She connected their hardworking and family-oriented messages to that of immigrant culture.
Kelli Cluque is joint operations manager of Coyote Radio & Advertising at CSUSB. As a music fan, she went to learn more about diversity and country music.
While Cluque admits that she hasn’t been a country music fan, hearing Hubbs speak has changed her mind.
CSUSB student Emily Lylugo said the event helped her realize that her family members with degrees are more opposed to country music than the rest of her family.
“It brought up something that I never thought of,” said Lylugo. “I grew up in a family where half listen to country and the other half doesn’t. I always just assumed it was just a preference thing.”
Fernando Mora was invited to attend the event for a class. He realized that he had not given country music a fair chance after listening to a few songs that day.
“I never knew much about country but I like how she combined it with queer culture and feminism,” said Mora. “Listening to the Tim Mcgraw song that came up was interesting and I liked its message.”
After the event, Hubbs encouraged students to share their experiences with her so she could add them to her upcoming book. She was especially interested in hearing from students with Latino backgrounds.
Hubbs urged attendees to consider what being American really means. Just like our borders, the lines are blurred.
“Country music, it turns out, is a really useful vehicle for thinking through so many issues of interest to us in society today,” said Hubbs.