Stagecoach 2024: Goldenvoice's Stacy Vee on country music's moment in the sun

Country music waxes and wanes in its influence on the broader industry, but this year, it’s been absolutely dominant.

For instance: Morgan Wallen topping streaming charts, Beyoncé’s landmark “Cowboy Carter,” Luke Combs and Tracy Chapman’s tearjerker Grammys set — and that barely scratches the surface.

Since debuting in 2007, Stagecoach — Goldenvoice’s “Country Coachella” — has been ahead of the curve with an omnivorous, welcoming definition of the genre. That philosophy, from longtime booker and vice president of festival talent Stacy Vee, is in full flower on the pop and country charts.

This year’s fest (which sold out, while the two-weekend Coachella did not) is headlined by Wallen, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert, with a country-covers set by Post Malone and buzzy acts like Jelly Roll, Megan Moroney and Bailey Zimmerman.

We talked to Vee about the fest’s role in this red-hot country moment, how Black and Mexican traditions are shaping the genre’s future, and if anyone’s nervous about Wallen playing just weeks after his high-profile arrest.

Country music’s obviously having an incredibly successful and influential moment. How would you situate its power within the music industry right now?

Obviously it’s ushering in so many new fans, but also new voices. People who never thought they’d make a country record are making a country record. New people are giving Nashville a chance, and in Nashville, people are giving other things a chance. A lot of artists are embracing it and putting their own interpretation on it. That’s something I’ve been intentionally focused on with Stagecoach, giving it its own identity, a California sound and my own interpretation of what country music is.

What role do you feel like Stagecoach has had in building to this moment?

I’d love to think that we’ve been a pioneer in ushering in new voices. I really rolled the dice booking Diplo for the first time. I didn’t know what Stagecoach fans would think of something like that, but he was just wildly embraced. And in 2022, I booked Nelly, and I’m like, what are people gonna think about this? But look at Stagecoach in the very early years. It was mostly Americana and pioneers in the alternative country space. We really do approach Stagecoach with a Coachella brain. People are really excited about the things they don’t ask for. It’s really encouraging, and I think that country music fans are much more open minded than maybe they get credit for.

There is a certain evil genius in booking Nickelback this year.

That one’s taking a chance. And I gave Post Malone a big slot on the main stage. But I don’t think I’ve read one negative comment on our socials about it. Every single person embraced Post with open arms, that he’s stepping his foot into country music. That’s what’s drawing in people like Beyoncé and Lana Del Rey. Everybody’s discovered this country music thing is really fun.

There were times when fans were skeptical of “carpetbagger country.” But some of the biggest acts at Stagecoach, like Post Malone and Jelly Roll and Ernest, came out of Soundcloud rap. Has that gatekeeping aspect changed?

It absolutely has. Kane Brown was a headliner last year and he came out of nontraditional sources. Bailey Zimmerman and Hardy are giants among young country fans. I find my music every which way, obviously by paying attention to TikTok and socials, but also artists are posting about other artists, and there are just so many different sounds and you’re able to consume it on so many different platforms.

I think you’re going to see a lot of artists hopping on stage with each other. There’s so much support of collaboration right now. I think that plays into country music having a moment, because people always want to be No. 1, but nobody’s tearing each other down. You’re seeing so many women like Lainey Wilson elevating each other — there’s room for all women and it’s not like there can only be one female star. I think that has a really big impact on what’s happening right now.

Country music is a wonderful community and they’ve had a way of doing things for many years, which has been super successful. Country radio is still very, very important in country music. But there’s also Zach Bryan coming out of nowhere doing things his own way. Now there’s just no script to follow anymore.

The Luke Combs and Tracy Chapman performance at the Grammys really proved that.

What a moment, just stunning.

Stagecoach sold out quickly this year. Morgan Wallen is one of the top artists in streaming and touring. Did getting him booked for a likely instant sellout give you room to take other chances?

Well, there’s no such thing as a guaranteed sellout. If you happen to know what it is, I’d love to hear it.

I love Morgan, and he’s come up at Stagecoach. I’ve been working with Morgan since 2017. But the approach I take to booking Stagecoach specifically is I want to deliver to every type of country music fan. There are my beloved loyal Stagecoach fans who’ve been coming since 2007. I want the top-streamed, most-airplay acts selling out stadiums. I want songwriting. I want what I call ‘country curious’ people to give me a shot. People who are like, ‘Well, I don’t really like country music, but there’s Wiz Khalifa and Diplo and Post Malone and Dillon Francis and Nickelback, what’s going on over there?’ So I always made sure when I curate the lineup that I deliver enough to every single kind of country music fan. Booking one artist doesn’t mean I can take my foot off the gas pedal.

Did Wallen’s recent felony arrest for throwing a chair off a bar rooftop make you nervous?

Morgan Wallen is one of the best live performers there is. He and we are all just so focused on making this the best set that he’s had this year. I know he’s planning some really special things.

This fest is coming on the heels of the Beyoncé album “Cowboy Carter.” You have Black acts like the War and Treaty and Leon Bridges and the Compton Cowboys collective coming this year. How are the questions about race and country music that Beyoncé raised on that album influencing your thinking about who the fest is for?

Look at the “Cowboy Carter” collaborators who we have at Stagecoach this year — Tanner Adell, Willie Nelson, Post Malone, Brittney Spencer, Willie Jones. And then Stagecoach alumni — Rhiannon Giddens and Tiera Kennedy. The voices she was amplifying, and the direction she was going, it was such an awesome feeling to be aligned with something that’s making such a big impact. We announced Stagecoach back in September, so for that all to come months later, it’s such an amazing feeling.

Stagecoach is a place where everybody feels welcome. We’re focused on creating the country culture of tomorrow. It’s the best part of my job and some responsibility, but it’s also a blast. I challenged myself to do so much research and go down so many rabbit holes and really try to discover new things and take chances. There’s a lot of alignment with massive artists giving Stagecoach a shot right now, but that’s kind of what we’ve been doing for a while. The timing is kind of perfect right now.

Is a Stagecoach gig on her radar right now?

I wouldn’t know, but there are a lot of her friends and collaborators here. There are worse things than being aligned with a Beyoncé record.

The rise of regional Mexican music fits under a broad country music umbrella too. Carin León is playing both Coachella and Stagecoach this year, and Peso Pluma could plausibly have played both. What’s the future for the Mexican/country crossover at Stagecoach?

Carin León is an artist that we’ve championed for a long time. Having a regional Mexican artist was something that I really wanted in the lineup this year. Since we’ve booked him, Carin has been really proactive about writing with a lot of people in Nashville and recording and with Nashville artists. It has to be an artist who has an appetite to be in this space. But I’m really excited to see how Carin’s set is going to be received. It’s my dream to see people singing along to every word like they were at his Coachella set this past weekend.

You’ve got Willie Nelson back again this year. I wish him many more festival appearances to come, but is it especially important for you to give people chances to see him as he passes 90?

Truth be told, it’s just like any other year and I’m trying to book Willie Nelson. I did something really special on Saturday where I have a ton of Texas artists: Miranda Lambert, Post Malone, Willie Nelson, Maddie & Tae, Leon Bridges, Charley Crockett, Asleep at the Wheel. I intentionally did this Texas thing to cultivate an atmosphere where artists are jumping on stage with each other. I think that was my approach to Willie Nelson this year.

Goldenvoice is trying out some different festival concepts right now. There seems to be a lot of energy behind this year’s Stagecoach. Obviously the fest has been around a long time, but does it feel like an especially important time for the festival’s role in the company’s future?

Stagecoach has always been a priority and a big deal to Goldenvoice. We’ve always been intentional and excited to put our own spin on what a country music festival is. We take it year by year, I never take anything for granted. Yes, we’re having an amazing year this year, and I’m off to a great start for 2025. But things always ebb and flow.

I’d love to think we would always be in this place, that there would always be so much fanfare around country music. But I never take anything for granted. I’m gonna work really hard to keep Stagecoach in an innovative place. I hope it stays this culturally relevant and as the years go on, and I’d like to think that I’m getting better and better at my job. But I’ve never taken that for granted.

Do you ever see it going to two weekends?

At this time, we’re just so happy to be one sold-out weekend.

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