The 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards are only a few hours away. Held in Sin City, the annual ceremony will see crooners Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan host, with the latter up for Entertainer of the Year (along with Florida Georgia Line, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban). While we’re all highly anticipating the rhinestone-studded evening that kicks off at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS, what we’re most looking forward to is seeing Nashville’s finest in their Sunday best—think cowboy hats, boots, and best of all, some really stellar hair. Ahead of the big night (did we mention Shania Twain is rumored to perform?) we sat down with Erin Duvall, who traced the evolution of iconic hairstyles in country music from the ’50s until now in her book Country Music Hair. Here, Duvall dishes on everything from the story of Billy Ray’s iconic mullet (Miley apparently begged him not to cut it) to the one product country music’s biggest stars can’t live without.
Hilary Shepherd: Obviously, hair is a huge part of country music, but what inspired you to write a book like this?
Erin Duvall: The idea actually came from the fact that Connie Britton’s hair has its own Twitter account. Connie’s the inspiration—you gotta admit, she’s got gorgeous hair—but there’s no mention of her in the book. I think it was more just the idea that her hair had its own account. That’s how much people were invested in her hair. I just thought, let’s go through the evolution of [country music hair]—from the 1950s until today. I put together a proposal and highlighted each decade. Each one had its own moniker, like, the 1980s was “The Higher the Hair, the Closer to God.”
HS: What are the hair trends in country music right now?
ED: The trend now is that there are no rules. I say that because we’ve got one member of the biggest duo right now in country music, which is Tyler Hubbard from Floria Georgia Line, who has a man bun. We’ve got a lot of females, too, who will kind of just cut their hair and the reaction isn’t as drastic as it used to be.
HS: How have fans’ reactions to haircuts changed?
ED: We’ve seen Taylor Swift go from long, wavy locks to a bob, and while it headlined and made news, it wasn’t an outrage. If this were 2000 and Gretchen Wilson cut her hair, I think that would be a big deal. Keith Urban shaved a side of his head [in 2015] and people didn’t necessarily love that, but I don’t think he was vilified as much as Faith [Hill] was in the ’90s. If Carrie Underwood came out and shaved her head, I think everybody would have a problem with that, but right now I think there just aren’t any rules. Anybody can be country music at the moment.