Dress rehearsal for “Crossroads,” the June 13 CMT special that pairs the pop star with country newcomer Kacey Musgraves, is an hour away, but all Perry can think about is getting undressed. Recently arrived at her trailer on-site at Sony’s Culver City lot, she slips out of her Jeremy Scott tube-sock dress and into a white bathrobe and flip-flops, clearly unconcerned about who might be watching.
“I’ve seen her naked,” says Perry, 29, motioning to Musgraves.
”A couple of times,” Musgraves, 25, confirms. “And it won’t be the last.”
Further occasions for dressing-room exhibitionism will come in August, when Musgraves joins Perry’s arena tour for 15 dates and the better part of a month. It’s an interesting move for both. Headliners often bestow their validation, and the benefit of exposure, on opening acts they admire. “I always like to introduce great music to the people in the audience,” says Perry. But pop princesses like Perry don’t often pick country newcomers. And while the other acts opening various legs of Perry’s U.S. tour — Capital Cities and Tegan & Sara — make oddball pop music, both have had top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow” peaked at No. 60 on the Hot 100 and reached No. 10 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
The contrasts between the two are evident when they take the stage the next night, from head (lime-green shoulder-length choppy cut for Perry, long Loretta Lynn curls for Musgraves) to toe (Manolo Blahniks for Perry, custom-made Old Gringo boots for Musgraves). But so are the commonalities. Both are all-American girls who get away with pushing the boundaries. Perry broke out in 2008 with “I Kissed a Girl”; Musgraves endorsed the same behavior in 2013’s “Follow Your Arrow,” a song about those who find the straight and narrow “a little too straight.”
No doubt in both cases this represents a sensibility shaped by a combination of a conservative background with a moral and artistic restlessness. Perry is the child of evangelical ministers. As for Musgraves, “My parents aren’t crazy conservative,” she says. “They’re actually pretty open-minded. But my grandparents are, and where I’m from, East Texas, is the Bible Belt.” So she can relate to Perry on that score. “It gave us perspective because we both have that. But we both left those worlds.”
”We left those worlds, but we kept our compasses,” Perry adds. (“Awww,” Musgraves interjects.)”I think [Kacey] straddles the line like I straddle the line of appropriateness and still maintaining a sexuality that is healthy and exciting. And it’s not all about that. It’s about sending inspiring and empowering messages and being a think-for-yourself type of woman.” These two freethinkers crossed paths when Musgraves released the first single from “Same Trailer Different Park,” “Merry Go ‘Round,” in September 2012. Perry tweeted her love for it. “I understand that I have a lot of followers on Twitter, and one tweet can go a distance,” she says.
Musgraves felt the effects at a distance — she was crossing a street in Dublin when she glanced at her phone and saw her Twitter following spike. But Perry wasn’t done yet. “Stalked her on the Internet, as I do with everyone,” says Perry, who reached out to bring Musgraves to Los Angeles to work on the early writing sessions for “Prism.” Though those songs didn’t make the record, a partnership was born. Musgraves — along with Sara Bareilles, Ellie Goulding and Tegan & Sara — was part of Perry’s We Can Survive concert, a benefit for young women with breast cancer, at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles, in October 2013. And the two got in another studio session at the time. “A good song came out of it,” Musgraves told Billboard in December. “I love when brains come together with different colors and influences to throw into the mix. We’re fans of each other, so it works.” The announcement of the “Crossroads” taping followed a few months later.
The stakes are high for Musgraves to leverage her association with Perry into crossover opportunities in radio and touring alike. Although she has played a handful of stadium dates as an opener for Kenny Chesney and just wrapped an arena run with Lady Antebellum, her own draw as a headliner tells a more interesting story. On her most recent club tour, at the end of 2013, she played 800- to 1,000-capacity venues like Detroit’s Saint Andrews Hall and New York’s Bowery Ballroom — rooms more commonly associated with the latest indie-rock craze than a Nashville newbie. Playing to mainstream crowds in the Midwest and Canada could provide the exposure Musgraves needs to go from critical fave to Taylor Swift-like crossover. “It’s an amazing pop look, the stamp of validation in another world for Kacey Musgraves from the queen, Katy,” says Mitch Rose, head of the Los Angeles music department at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which booked both artists on the tour.
We’ve added High-Quality screen captures from Kacey and Katy’s Billboard interview to the gallery – both ladies are completely flawless – who isn’t excited for this pairing!? It’s gonna be amazing! ♥