New Fox soap dramatizes country music’s evolving traditions

NASHVILLE — “I’m saying the words they want me to say, but I’m sure not acting too much,” jokes 60-year-old country superstar Trace Adkins in his trademark growling baritone.

He’s chatting at the Grand Ole Opry for an exclusive premiere of “Monarch,” the Fox drama in which he portrays country music patriarch Albie Roman.

The show premieres – a year after multiple delays – Sunday (8 EDT/PDT) on Fox, immediately following  the network’s NFL doubleheader, and then settles into its regular timeslot Tuesdays (9 EDT/PDT) starting Sept. 20. 

The show follows in the footsteps of ABC and CMT’s “Nashville,” which aired from 2012-2018.

Trace Adkins attends the premiere of "Monarch" at the Grand Ole Opry on Aug 20, 2022.

And Paramount Network’s popular “Yellowstone” and “1883” have allowed Kevin Costner and married country musicians Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, respectively, to achieve re-ascendant stardom.

“Monarch” tells the fictional story of the rootsy and rough-hewn Roman family – think the Carters and the Judds meet the Williamses and the Jennings. They include country music’s king and queen: Albie and Dottie Cantrell Roman (Susan Sarandon), whose royal reign is jeopardized. The heirs to the throne include sisters Nicolette “Nicky” (Anna Friel) and Gigi (played in a breakout role by alt-punk icon Beth Ditto), plus her record industry executive brother Luke (Joshua Sasse) .

MONARCH: Trace Adkins. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)

“Albie Roman is an honest guy who gets caught up in some situations where he has to do what he thinks is best for his family first,” says Adkins, 60. “It may not always be honorable, and it’s not driven by meanness, but overall, he’s a good guy.”

“I love music,” says Ditto.

The lead singer of indie rock band Gossip has been compared to Bobbie Gentry, Etta James, Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. She notes that the “trauma” associated with her Southern roots shows most in her portrayal of the working mother who hid a golden voice and magnificent stage presence her entire life.

MONARCH: Beth Ditto. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)

“Gigi’s an un-nurtured outcast and underdog, like me,” she adds. “My mother wasn’t like Susan Sarandon,  though. Susan’s more like my grandmother, Barbie Ann. She was a red-headed firecracker.” 

Ditto, 41 notes small character points, like the fact that she never wears dresses or makeup and is “a working mother who wears an Apple watch because she always has to be somewhere.”  

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