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What Country Music Means to Me..

When I think of country music I think back to riding in the backseat of my mama’s teal GMC Safari van around the suburbs of Orlando, jammin’ out and singing along to the likes of Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, George Strait and Garth Brooks on K92.3FM on the way to school. I think back to a time when I was one of the “uncool kids” who didn’t listen to the “popular music”, the kid who wore ripped jeans and cowboys boots and didn’t care, but most importantly I think back to a time where country music in my opinion was at one of its peaks, in the mid to late 90s.

As far back as I can envision I can remember country music being a part of my life. It was what the family listened to in the car, it was what my mother sang around the house, well Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” to be exact, and it holds a lot of memories.

My first concert was here in Florida to see Alan Jackson when I was 6 following a vivid memory of being just 4 or 5 years old when I sat on Santa’s lap and asked for Alan’s “Who I Am” CD.. Recalling the jolly old elf asking me if I’d like a barbie doll too I replied, “No, I just want the CD!”

Over time as I got a bit older I grew into my own, I had older sisters that listened to other genres and slowly I began to pull away from the country twang I had grown up loving. I got on the pop music train and rode it for a long while. Occasionally I would still listen to country in the car with my mom, after all it was the only “safe” option as she didn’t approve most of the music my sisters listened to. I suppose you could say I took my teenage rebellion out on the genre, if my mother liked it then there was no way I could enjoy it any longer. Fast forward a few years and it really wasn’t until I was in high school that I started coming back around to country on occasion.. As time went on, my friends and I shared a mutual love for the genre and I can remember us singing “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” in class one day to my teacher’s disgust. These and so many little memories have stuck in my mind along the way. I can say that probably what really turned it around for me was when I heard Chris Young’s “Neon” on the radio for the first time.. Instant flashback to the music I grew up on and being in the backseat of that van singing along.. It was from there on out that I once again embraced the genre I had loved so dearly.

That blonde hair, blue eyed girl of the past could never have imagined where her love of music would take her. In 2014 I happened to be in a meet and greet line where I met my first boss for country media website, Got Country Online. The last two years with GCO afforded me opportunities to experience the genre in a whole new light. Learning the ins and outs of the industry, interviewing up and comers and meeting some of my best friends. We all come from different backgrounds and lifestyles yet we all share the common love for country music. Through that mutual love of music I’ve met a number of incredible supporters of what I do outside of this industry. On a daily basis I make crochet hats, wigs and dolls for kids with cancer, and I never imagined how truly small this world was until multiple occasions presented itself where I had commonalities of my cancer work with some of the people I was meeting in the industry.

Country is known to have some of the most loyal, crazy, rowdy and determined fans. I’d say they are also the most genuine- I can honestly say I haven’t covered one event where I didn’t meet at least one person that I was able to have a genuine conversation with. There are fans all over the world that embrace the twang that Nashville dishes out and I believe we all cling to a little bit of southern hospitality that is served to us in this environment. Even though I had my time of rebellion I’m so glad I came back, nothing is quite like this music, hell half of the artists from other genres are all cutting country albums now. There’s more draw to country music than the southern accents laid on these tracks. So many memories in my life can be traced back to being rooted from my love of this music. It’s uplifted me through times of trials, its brought on unlikely friendships, brought me to my favorite city; and is now because of my new journey with Think Country, fulfilling childhood dreams. Next Friday I am honored to be able to interview my childhood favorite, Alan Jackson, 20 years after seeing him in concert.

There’s so much this music has to offer, you need only take a listen and you’ll be hooked for life. Even if your line goes out a bit, it’ll always reel you back in..

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Sammy Boots
I am a country music loving asphalt cowgirl with a passion for helping kids with cancer. I was born and raised in Orlando, FL where I currently reside. Although I was born and raised in the city don’t let that fool you. If you run into me, there’s no doubt you will find me wearing one of my many pairs of cowboy boots! There’s really not a time I can recall as a child where I wasn’t jammin’ out to country on the radio with my mom and two sisters in the car. Country music has always been a strong part of my life; recalling when I was 5, I sat on Santa’s lap and all I asked for was an Alan Jackson CD. Who knew a year later I would attend my very first concert to see Mr. Jackson. When not submerged in country music, I am a professional photographer, social media junkie, and most importantly spend my time devoted to my involvement with children with cancer. My passion started when a family friend was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the tender age of 12. What began with putting together some material, making her a blanket and wanting to get involved, turned into making blankets through her organization for her friends and other kids at a local hospital. One day I picked up a crochet book and decided to add crochet hats to the packages. Pairing that decision with my passion to help eventually turned into my own organization, “Unraveled by Samantha Dawn”. Word started to spread about what I was doing and parents began contacting me to crochet hats and wigs for their own child suffering from cancer. From 2012 to 2016, I’ve crocheted almost 200 hats and wigs, and just added dolls in the last year that have shipped to kids all over the United States, England, Holland, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Canada. I have been fortunate enough to meet a number of the kids and their families here in Orlando, in Nashville and along road trips to North Carolina. Jesus has blessed me with this opportunity and I am forever thankful for it. I look to Country Music for comfort, joy, and relaxation. It’s cool to be part of the very best fan base ever! I’m so lucky that my passion for these kids has effortlessly paired with my love for this genre and I hope one day to start a program to get these down to earth artists involved in more children’s hospitals around the US.
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