COWGIRL MUSICAL DREAMS AT DISNEY VILLAGE – Meet artists Justyna Kelley and Carlton Moody

On May 24 and 25, country music takes on a feminine feel at Disney Village! Over the course of a weekend, a host of exceptional singers, line-dancing classes and street performances featuring acoustic guitars will combine to create an atmosphere worthy of Nashville.

Guests will include singer Justyna Kelley, coming straight from her home state of Tennessee to perform at 9pm on Saturday. She’ll be performing at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon in the company of musician Carlton Moody, well known to fans of Disneyland Paris, in a country pop programme. 

Here, both artists give us a sneak preview…

How did the idea of a concert at Disneyland Paris come about? 

Justyna Kelley: It’s all thanks to Carlton. He knew my parents, Irene Kelley, who is a well-known country singer-songwriter in Nashville. When I came to Paris in 2013, I met up with him again and we started writing songs together, and some of these songs are among my favorites. That’s when we started playing our first concerts together, and we got back in touch last year for this project at Disneyland Paris. We came up with a program and he assembled an amazing group of musicians for the occasion.

Carlton Moody: The musicians are friends who have been working with some of the biggest names in country music for years. We have a drummer, a guitarist, a fiddler, and a bassist. Knowing these musicians, I can tell you that the performance will be as energetic as it is authentic. There will be songs by some of the biggest artists in country music, including some written by Justyna herself. She’s promised to let me sing one of mine too. I can’t wait!

How did you come up with this programme?

JK: I spent my entire childhood immersed in country music, mainly thanks to my mother. I grew up with this music and I know this repertoire like the back of my hand. I love singing these kinds of songs, especially the ones written by female artists. When I put together a setlist, I like to play songs that I feel a strong connection with. 

Which songs? Do you have examples?

JK: I love The Chicks. I listened to their music all through the late 90s and 2000s. They were always on the radio. I love their harmonies. This weekend, I’ll be singing There’s Your Trouble, one of their most famous songs. But I also love Dwight Yoakam. He’s one of my favorite country singers. I often put him on the setlist because his songs, like Fast As You, are so fun to dance to and people love to sing along. 

Is interacting with the audience important to you?

JK: I can’t imagine things any other way. That’s why I do concerts – to create a totally immersive experience through music, inviting the audience to sing and dance along with me.

Justyna, Carlton, Justyna, Carlton, how do you feel about taking part in an event dedicated to women’s country music? Why is it important? 

JK: For a long time, they didn’t have as much of a presence as they do today, but I think they’re becoming more and more important, especially thanks to popular artists like Taylor Swift. She began her career in country music, and it was through country music that she became known to the public. She proved that country artists could have a significant impact on the record industry and that this music is really important, don’t you think Carlton?

CM: Yes, absolutely. In fact, it all started in the 1980s with artists like Gail Davies, who was the first woman to produce her own country records. There was also Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton. From there, more and more women became singer-songwriters, starting with Taylor Swift, as Justyna said, who masters every aspect of creation to perfection. 

How would you define this feminine touch?

JK: I’m so happy every time I see women playing drums or bass, it breaks down so many barriers. I also think that women have a different perspective on the world, which can influence both men and women alike. I also really love male/female vocal duo like the one I do with Carlton. It creates a blend of harmonies that works beautifully. 

CM: Songs composed by female artists deal with different subjects and bring a unique perspective. I’m thinking in particular about Tammy Wynett’s hit, Stand By Your Man, which has become a classic. Because country music isn’t just about boots and cowboy hats – there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s a real depth to this music. It’s hidden behind the dancing and the upbeat feel, but it’s there. Every song tells a story and conveys an emotion. It’s not just about dancing, it also speaks to the heart. 

JK: I think people are realizing more and more that country music is great music, and it’s becoming more accessible, which is especially thanks to women.

This weekend is called Cowgirl Musical Dreams. What do you think those dreams might be? 

JK: So many young girls dream of a career in music, of being able to tell stories through music. It’s important to have singers who can speak for themselves, who can express their feelings and share them artistically and constructively. I think that’s the real spirit of this weekend.

What does singing at Disneyland Paris mean to you? 

JK: I’ve been to Disneyland Paris before, but this will be my first time performing at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon. For me, coming from Nashville, it’s very heart-warming to find a place US where country music is celebrated like this, and has been for such a long time. I can’t wait!

When it comes to country music, it’s true to say that Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon has become a real landmark, and you, Carlton, have played a big part in that. 

CM: When I started out in April 1992, when Disneyland Paris first opened, I only performed at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and then in August of the same year I started performing with my brothers at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon. It was one of the first places in France dedicated to country music, and it contributed greatly to popularising the genre. But what struck me most was that I felt like I was playing in the USA. The decor, the atmosphere – everything reminded me of home. I was also blown away by the number of people who fell in love with country music.

How does it feel to be back playing here?

CM: I’ve done a lot of things since then, but I still live in Marne-la-Vallée. I’ve kept in touch with most of the Cast Members I worked with at the time. They’re wonderful people with a real passion for country music. Disney is like being part of a big family, you know, you can never really leave! That’s why I’m really delighted to be back here.

How are you preparing for the show?

CM: You can’t just read country music like sheet music. It’s really all about sharing. We talk to each other a lot before the show, we share tempo and harmony ideas, and then we start playing together. It’s a completely natural process that allows our music to speak directly to the listeners.

What are you expecting from this concert at Disneyland Paris? 

JK: I hope to meet lots of people who love country music, people who are passionate about it and who will enjoy the show. I think Disneyland Paris has given us a wonderful opportunity. I just want to say: “Merci beaucoup!” 

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