Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles Discusses Willingness to Tackle Tough Issues in Music

Sugarland has long been known for their emotive lyrics and out-of-the-box style, and the duo, comprised of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, is happy to keep it that way.

Along with their sound, the pair is also happy to discuss tough issues in their music, which they have continued to do with their latest album, Bigger. That album alone includes references to gun violence, cyberbullying, homophobia and more, and Nettles is eager to bring her positive messages to fans.

“It is something that I am extremely proud of, and it is something that I am very capable of,” she told Billboard. “At the end of the day, look ... what a fantastic opportunity, what a unique position that I and the rest of Sugarland find ourselves in!”

Nettles explained that because her fanbase is older, she has an opportunity to foster acceptance in her listeners, unlike younger fans who grew up in a more accepting generation.

“You don't want to preach to the choir, you know what I mean?” the singer said. “That is not the case within our demographic … I take it very seriously, too. Because I think that we're able to do that and that I am uniquely qualified to do it in a way that opens hearts rather than closes doors. That is what we need right now.”

The 43-year-old also discussed Sugarland's recent cover performances of folk singer Patty Griffin's “Tony,” a song that shares the story of one of Griffin's high school classmates, who was gay and committed suicide as a teenager.

“What better time to do this song if we wanted to do it than during Pride month to raise awareness and have a moment?” she asked. “And it has really turned into that.”

As the pair perform, various LGBT statistics flash across the screen behind them, including the fact that LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to consider suicide.

When considering how to approach the song, Nettles shared, “Why don't we use this as an opportunity to raise awareness within communities and people who might not know and might not consider LGBTQ people?”

Nettles added that while she knows the country industry is a notoriously conservative one, she wants other artists to know that there are fans who are seeking messages such as the ones she shares.

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“The reactions that we get on this song whenever we play it, and even just in introducing it … people feel seen and supported and welcomed,” she explained. “I've got chillbumps just thinking about it right now. It is absolutely life-giving to do.”

Photo Credit: Getty / John Shearer