Meet Juliette Vara....
Emmy award winning TV reporter, country music journalist and country music radio host Juliette Vara has covered the genre's biggest awards shows and interviewed such stars as Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum. Country Weekly and the Los Angeles Times - amongst others - have published her written work. Juliette graduated from Boston University and is currently radio host and executive producer for Mountain Country 107.9 FM as well as being a freelance country music journalist.
I was recently introduced to Juliette through Twitter (you can follow her here) and after chatting to her I thought it would be a great idea to ask her to answer some questions for my site. She is clearly passionate about her job and the country music genre as a whole, I hope you'll enjoy reading her answers below....
How were you first introduced to country music?
I started listening to country music when I was 8 years old. I was spending a lot of time at my father’s ranch in Florida. At the time artists like Kris Kross and Paula Abdul were what I was listening to with my friends in school, but I quickly switched when I started paying attention to country music. Every time I was at the ranch, it was playing in someone’s truck or at any restaurant you walked into—and I quickly became hooked on artists like Randy Travis, Travis Tritt and Ricky Van Shelton. I fell in love with it…
Who has been your favourite act to interview?
I had a blast with Alabama on the red carpet during the ACA’s in Las Vegas one year. Randy Owen opened up about making love to his wife on New Year’s Eve, and we were all laughing and having a great time. So, it was an entertaining couple minutes—and quite revealing! Craig Morgan is always a blast to chat with, and I believe he represents country music very well—both personally and professionally. He has the most hilarious laugh too…Who have you been the most nervous to interview?
I’d have to say Trace Adkins….First time he approached me on a red carpet, I sort of lost my train of thought. Think his domineering and tall presence threw me off!If you could only own one record, which would it be and why?
Tracy Lawrence, hands down. His voice is different. Songs like “Paint Me A Birmingham” and “If The World Had A Front Porch” always remind me of why I love country music. I have an emotional reaction when I listen to Tracy Lawrence.What made you decide you wanted to be a music journalist?
Honestly….a really bad experience covering quote “Hollywood.”In 2006, I had my first celebrity interview with Samuel L. Jackson in California, and I was disappointed with how journalists were treated behind the scenes during this particular event. I was unhappy with the attitude and sense of ego displayed and the domineering entourage that seemed to control every move. And it wasn’t just that one situation—there were a couple more situations similar to that and it quite literally made me realise my childhood dream of being an entertainment reporter—wasn’t all it cracked up to be, and I stopped pursuing that. Interestingly, while I always loved country music, I never saw the country genre as ‘entertainment’-maybe because I was too close to it or because it wasn’t as mainstream at the time so you wouldn’t always see country stars on People magazine or Glamour. Out of sight, out of mind in a way. But, in 2008—it hit me, and I had a ‘duh’ moment. I thought why don’t I start interviewing the people I care about, who entertain me every day, and whom I support. So when Larry the Cable Guy was coming through San Diego I decided to request an interview with him because I was a huge fan. His publicists and managers were respectful, professional. He was on time, down to earth and fun, and that’s when my heart began to beat again, and honestly—it’s night and day. There’s a sense of equality and a humble and grateful attitude in this genre of music. I’ve never had a horrible experience with any country music artist or publicist in 6 years. Country music is my heart, it’s what I know and what I love—and it’s the place I always belonged. And, I appreciate it even more because of the former experience.What was your first journalism job?
I got my first break as an on-air TV news reporter in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. I had just graduated with my master’s from Boston University, and a news director in Arkansas offered me a job. I took it—sight unseen. I packed up the car…and just took off.Which artist would you say is one to watch this year?
Brantley Gilbert is getting more and more recognised, and I hope it continues. He’s the real deal.From a fan perspective, which song do you wish you had written and why?
“This Ain’t Nothin’” by Craig Morgan. I’ve been the reporter in that song interviewing families who’ve lost it all due to mother nature or other events in life. That song is powerful and when he sings it live—the crowd visibly connects and so do I.If you could see any tour, who would be included?
No question about it—Travis Tritt. He’s one of my all time favourites, and I haven’t seen him perform yet. I want to be front row and I want to be backstage and meet him! Here’s to prayin’!What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Don’t play the victim in life. It’s hard to do, and sometimes it’s really hard to follow because good people want fairness and justice. But the fact is--life is tough for many people. It’s not easy—personally and professionally and you have no idea from the outside what people have experienced or what has been done to them. I wish I could be better at letting go…it’s a work in progress.