When the NFL Draft came to Nashville, Tennessee in April, Lindsay Ell was one of the numerous country stars who took the stage to perform. In addition to singing some of her own hits, Ell boldly sang "Old Town Road," the controversial song recorded by Lil Nas X, which initially landed on the country charts before it was pulled by radio, saying it wasn't country enough.
"The minute we started singing 'Old Town Road,' it was confirmation of why I wanted to [sing it]," Ell recently shared with PopCulture.com and other media. "I'm a firm believer that anytime you have music that connects with a group of fans, regardless of what that is, regardless of who's singing it, and it is connecting with them, then what's wrong with it? The fact that country radio was like, 'Should we play it, should we not?' I mean, I think honestly that it wasn't the right call to not want to play this song.
"It's blowing up," she continued. "It's connecting everywhere. You see rooms of thousands of kids screaming this song from the top of their lungs, and we play for 200,000 people, downtown Nashville, during the NFL Draft, and everybody started screaming. To have a song that spreads that fast, it's like why fight it?"
Ell also cited her former tour boss, Keith Urban, as validation enough that "Old Town Road" has a place in the country music format.
"You have artists like Keith Urban doing Instagram covers on his Instagram page," Ell said. "Music is meant to be the universal language that brings us all together. And so, kind of get over any preconceived notions of what it's supposed to be and what it's not supposed to be, and just let it be enjoyable."
Billy Ray Cyrus recorded a version of "Old Town Road" with Lil Nas X, with Urban joining them on stage to sing the song as a surprise guest during CMA Fest. Lil Nas X and Cyrus also recently walked the red carpet at the BET Awards, and later performed the song, earning thunderous applause from the audience.
Ell also recently shared the stage, joining Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Cassadee Pope and more during the all-female lineup at Chicago's LakeShake Festival on Friday, June 21. Ell is playing fairs and festivals over the next several months. Find dates at LindsayEll.com.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Erika Goldring