Tragic Details About Kacey Musgraves

In March of 2024, country star Kacey Musgraves released her sixth studio album, "Deeper Well," which featured track after track of the songwriter's signature lyrical style. Musgraves doesn't share every bit of her life with the world, but she's vulnerable in her music, giving listeners a pulse on her current state if they look hard enough. "I feel very grounded where I'm at. I feel very, like, at peace. I'm in my mid-30s now, and I just went through a little bit of a rough period. But I feel like on the other side of that and, you know, I've learned a lot about myself," Musgraves told NPR about how she felt after wrapping up "Deeper Well." 

Said rough patch is not the only time in her life that Musgraves has experienced hardship. Between the end of romantic relationships, the loss of important people, and certain health conditions, Musgraves hasn't always been able to look at life with rose-colored glasses. Like anyone else, the singer is no stranger to tragedy.

One of Kacey Musgraves' songs was blacklisted

Kacey Musgraves has always been one to speak, or rather sing, her mind. The artist first rose to prominence with her album "Same Trailer Different Park," and fans fell in love with one song in particular: "Follow Your Arrow." Not everyone was a fan of the song, though, as the lyrics of the chorus read, "Kiss lots of boys / Or kiss lots of girls, if that's something you're into / When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight / Roll up a joint, or don't / Just follow your arrow wherever it points." Radio stations feared their listeners wouldn't approve of the pro-LGBTQ+ and pro-marijuana messages, and DJs reported that, as a result, they weren't playing the song.

The reluctance of radio stations to play Musgraves' song frustrated the singer. As she told The Guardian, "Most radio program directors that I talk to say, 'That's my favorite, I wish we could play it.' I'm like, 'Well then, f***ing play it!'" Ultimately, though, Musgraves didn't let the criticism get to her. "Certain kinds of people will always have an issue with my music. But that's fine, it's okay. I don't want to be the McDonald's of music. I don't want to not turn anyone off. If you were everybody's cup of tea, you'd probably be boring." Musgraves is unapologetically herself, and her music speaks to that.

Kacey Musgraves divorced her first husband

Kacey Musgraves has written about many topics throughout her songwriting career, with love being one of her most explored. In 2016, Musgraves met fellow singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly, and the two instantly hit it off. After collaborating musically, Musgraves and Kelly fell in love. "He, like, stuck a knife in my heart and twisted it. It was so good," Musgraves told Spin in 2018. "He knocked down these walls I feel like I had put up, and he made me truly laugh again." Musgraves went on to write one of her best pieces of work and most famous album to date, "Golden Hour," about falling in love with Kelly.

However, as some of Musgraves' songs attest, not all love lasts, and in 2020, after nearly three years of marriage, the couple filed for divorce. "We've made this painful decision together," Musgraves and Kelly told The Associated Press. "It simply just didn't work." Despite the difficult choice to end their marriage, Musgraves and Kelly left their romantic relationship with respect for each other. "We will remain true friends for the rest of our lives. We hold no blame, anger, or contempt for each other," they said. In true Musgraves fashion, she worked out her feelings from her divorce through her work. The award-winning musician followed up "Golden Hour" with "Star-Crossed," an album that conversely explored falling out of love.

She's faced sexism in her career

Many females have experienced gender-based discrimination in their workplace, and the story is no different for women in country music. The number of men writing and performing as country artists far outweighs the number of women, but only a few women have spoken out about the disparity. Kacey Musgraves has talked openly about the sexism she's faced in her career, noting that her artistry has often been reduced to her gender. "No, it's always 'female musician,' 'female singer-songwriter,' and it's interesting because they just don't do that for men," Musgraves said to the Independent. "It's never 'Chris Stapleton, male songwriter,' 'Chris Stapleton, male artist.' Why is there a difference there? I can't really figure it out."

Musgraves has also called out blatant discrimination among country music radio stations. When a listener asked 98 KCQ in Saginaw, Michigan, why the station wasn't playing songs by female artists in succession, the station tweeted in response, "We cannot play two females back to back. Not even Lady Antebellum or Little Big Town against another female. I applaud their courage." The station deleted its tweet afterward, but not in time for Musgraves to respond with, "Smells like white male bulls**t and why LONG ago I decided they cannot stop me." She replied to her own tweet, saying, "And yet, they can play 18 dudes who sound exactly the same back to back. Makes total sense."

Kacey Musgraves has struggled with mental health

Many people struggle with their mental health, especially during difficult times in their lives. Kacey Musgraves experienced just that at the end of her marriage to her ex-husband, Ruston Kelly. While her marriage was ending, Musgraves, like the rest of the world, was also going through the COVID-19 pandemic, the two events creating a tough time for the singer to navigate. "I felt, in many ways, on top of the world in my career, but in my personal life, I felt like I was dying inside. I was crumbling. I was sad. I felt lonely. I felt broken," Musgraves told Elle of the time in her life.

Musgraves didn't let herself live in her pain. To heal, she turned to a guided therapeutic LSD trip, which she went on with the help of a friend of hers who's a doctor. "It's been looked at in a lot of areas for help with depression, anxiety, addiction, so many things. Basically, some neuroscientists [from Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University] have created a playlist that's music from all over the world, put together to guide you, in that state of mind, through different emotions, feeling memories," Musgraves told The Guardian of the experience, which she also credits for helping her find the title to her album "Star-Crossed." Much of Musgrave's struggle through the dissolution of her marriage was documented in the album, which the artist described as a modern tragedy.

She struggles with a health condition

Kacey Musgraves is selective about which bits of her life she shares with the public, but in 2017, she turned to social media to open up about a health condition she has and see if any of her followers had some advice. "Going through some not-so-fun endocrine issues[.] Do any of you ladies out there struggle with PCOS? Tips welcome. #ThisSucks," Musgraves said in her since-deleted tweet. Fans and followers who also struggle with PCOS offered that a change in diet might help alleviate symptoms, to which Musgraves said, "What's weird is I hardly EVER eat gluten or dairy...but it's getting worse somehow!? I could [definitely] cut back on alcohol [though], but" The singer also expressed her dread of having to monitor the condition while traveling on tour.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, "Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, male sex hormones that are usually present in women in small amounts." This condition can cause irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, acne, weight gain, infertility, and other symptoms. It's estimated that anywhere from 8 to 13% of women have PCOS. However, many women with this condition have not been diagnosed. Musgraves has not spoken publicly about her experience with PCOS since opening a dialogue on Twitter, but she was praised at the time for her vulnerability.

She went through another breakup after her divorce

Not long after Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly divorced, Musgraves began dating a new man, Cole Schafer. Rumors of a relationship sparked in June of 2021, and soon after, they confirmed their relationship status via social media. Both would go on to gush about the other on occasion, particularly on Instagram, remaining a couple for over two years. They even organized a charity event together, the Teddy Bear Ball, which benefitted the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. Unfortunately, in November of 2023, it was reported that Musgraves and Schafer had split. Neither publicly confirmed the breakup at the time (Musgraves eventually did), but both have since deleted most or all photos of each other from their Instagram profiles.

Musgraves is at peace with her decision to be so open about dating Schafer. "I don't regret living and loving as hard as I do. Whenever I'm in a relationship, I'm all f***ing in. I think that hesitancy breeds hesitancy, and if you go in with something with one foot, it's going to fail," Musgraves told The Cut. And she learned a thing or two from her previous relationship. "After divorce, it's like, on one hand, I do want to self-protect, but at the same time, if your heart is feeling open, I think you have to just show up for it. I'm still trying to figure out the balance of that," she said.

Kacey Musgraves lost her grandmother

Kacey Musgraves is close with her family. She has detailed in songs and interviews her relationship with her relatives and how supportive her parents and sister have been of her music career. She's also shared humorous bits of her relationship with her paternal grandmother who has always given Musgraves her honest opinions. Unfortunately, Musgraves lost her maternal grandmother, whom she called Memaw, in 2014 when her house caught fire. "She was such a hard worker & a giver. Deserved a happier ending. This was her house that was next door to ours. Caught fire a couple weeks before xmas 2014. I was on tour. She called 911 but didn't make it out. (smoke inhalation) Needless to say holidays have never felt the same," Musgraves tweeted. Musgraves went on to note that the fire was due to electrical issues, and she encouraged everyone to spend some time with the older people in their lives.

Musgraves has tried multiple times to get in touch with her Memaw since her death. In 2017, the singer met with Tyler Henry from "Hollywood Medium" to gain more clarity regarding Memaw's death. And a few years later, Musgraves shared that she encountered her grandmother's spirit during a trip. "It was an orb. In a warm, familiar feeling space. I knew it was her though there was no voice or face or anything. Just a point of light. I truly felt her love," Musgraves posted on X.

She doesn't like the spotlight

Kacey Musgraves has hit some of the highest points any musician can hope for. She's won seven Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year; toured the world as a headlining artist; had a number-one hit and four top-ten albums — and that's just scratching the surface. Given Musgraves' success, she could be far more famous than she is. Instead, Musgraves prefers to keep to herself. "I really enjoy and revere my privacy and having something just for me and my personal life. I'm really kind of a homebody," Musgraves said in an interview with Apple Music's Zane Lowe. And there's no deeper meaning to it. Musgraves simply doesn't like the spotlight. "As you get ready to release a project, this tsunami of madness is coming toward me. And you're going to be very public-facing again, and that can be — that's kind of hard for me sometimes," she said.

In addition to wanting to keep out of the spotlight as much as possible, Musgraves also has a heavy desire to stay grounded. "I work hard to keep attached to reality. Being detached from reality is one of my greatest fears," Musgraves said to The Guardian. "I've seen it a lot of times in the industry, getting to work with artists I looked up to, and I would be astounded at how detached from reality they were. It scared the s*** out of me, so I never want to be like that," she said.

Kacey Musgraves lost her friend and mentor

All singer-songwriters have other artists they revere and cite as influences, but few actually get to meet their heroes. Kacey Musgraves is an exception. One of her songwriting heroes is John Prine, the hugely influential country folk artist. Musgraves had the honor of performing with Prine, which she said was one of the few times she's seen her father cry. In 2020, Musgraves lost her friend when he died from complications due to COVID-19. "John Prine singlehandedly impacted my songwriting more than anyone else. He's the king of turning phrase but keeping it simple. They say you shouldn't meet your heroes, but you'll never meet someone as truly genuine as he was," Musgraves said to People of Prine.

A few years after his death, Musgraves was able to honor Prine in song. The lead track on her 2024 album, "Deeper Well," tells of Musgraves' experience in the wake of Prine's death. "Unexplainable things started happening, and cardinals started showing up on my doorstep soon after my good friend and mentor passed, John Prine. He always had a big connection to cardinals and felt that they were messengers from the spirit realm. He inspired ["Cardinal"], no doubt," Musgraves said in the CD zine that accompanied the album. "I saw a sign or an omen / On the branches in the mornin' / It was right after I / Lost a friend without warning ... Cardinal / Are you bringing me a message from the other side?" the lyrics of "Cardinal" read.

She had a near-death experience

A career in music might not seem like a physically dangerous choice, but Kacey Musgraves has a story that proves otherwise. While in Iceland filming the music video for her song "Deeper Well" off her 2024 album of the same name, Musgraves worried she might die in a freak accident. The weather in Iceland was incredibly windy while her team was shooting the video, and as is shown in the footage, Musgraves was near a cliff much of the time. "We picked literally the worst possible week to go. It was high wind advisories — I almost got blown off that cliff. I was almost like, 'This video will be my death announcement," Musgraves said to Jimmy Fallon while on "The Tonight Show." "It was a sheer drop down to the ocean. It was treacherous. Even the locals were like, 'This is some scary s***,'" she said. Though Musgraves told the story with levity, there was legitimate danger present.

Despite this and all other tragedies Musgraves has experienced, she has a positive attitude about life. Musgraves likened life to a Shakespeare piece when speaking to Elle in an interview. "They're just wrapped up in a different way. Those things will carry on forever, as long as humans are living, breathing, crying, loving, dying, fighting, all of that," she said. "Being a human is tragic, but it's also beautiful. And you can't really experience the beautiful parts of life without also experiencing the absolutely heart-wrenching."