Season 5 of the hit TV show Nashville is back with a vengeance and a new story to tell. During the season premiere, the country tunes were toned down and replaced with traditional music “rooted in gospel and folk music.”

This is a big change by the Nashville producers in an effort to showcase more diversity within the show’s cast and music. Grammy award winning banjo player and singer Rhiannon Gibbens will have a recurring role this season and spoke about the positives of the change. According to Gibbens, “It is time for the real history of country music to have more of a highlight, for people to know that there were lots of black people who played the banjo that the string band itself came from plantation culture.”

Writer / actress, Jen Richards, will also have a recurring role in the show this season.  This is important as Richards will be be the first transgender actor to appear in a CMT series.  This is a huge not only Richards but also for the LGBT community.

In addition to the move being hugely significant, it is also somewhat ironic as the TV show takes place in Tennessee, a state where lawmakers considered passing a bill that would “require public school students to use the restrooms corresponding to their gender at birth”only last year.  Nashville producers plan to address Richard’s gender later on in the season.

Marshall Herskovitz, a new comer to the show, gave his support of the move, stating , “I don’t think ‘Nashville’ is a political show and it’s not meant to be a political show, but I think it would be very hard to look at Jen and say, ‘Oh, that person should use a man’s bathroom.”

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