‘Troubadour’ Brings Kristian Bush, Local Playwright Together

When Katy Perry sang with Dolly Parton at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony, the pop star knew how to dress the part: big hair, bright colors and bedazzled boots.

But country music didn’t always embrace sequins and satin, which one Atlanta playwright noted on a visit to Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. Janece Shaffer told Lois Reitzes that the costumes “went from church wear — brown slacks and string ties — to these bedazzled, crazy things.”

That revelation at the Country Music Hall of Fame sparked Shaffer’s curiosity. “I want to write about that moment, I want to know that moment,” she said. Shaffer also knew that a play about country music would need, well, music. So who could bring this world to life? She found her answer in Sugarland singer-songwriter Kristian Bush. 

The pair met for the first time at the Flying Biscuit and “by the end of breakfast … he had written the first song of the show,” she said. 

Bush quickly noted that Shaffer’s script is “a compelling story; it kinda asks for songs.” 

The compelling story is, Shaffer writes, about “a son, a musician, who wants to stop trying to please a mean-spirited father and pursue a life and sound of his own. … This is a story about a father, a talented musician, who controls a son because a debilitating secret controls him. This is a story about creativity and music and fear and faith and finding family in a group of strangers in a dirty gas station in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1951.”

Kristian Bush shared his own “Troubadour” demos with “City Lights,” which included the songs “Father to the Son” and “Troubadour.”

“Troubadour” premieres at the Alliance Theatre in January of 2017. You can learn more about the rest of the Alliance Theatre’s 2016-2017 season on their website.