Orville Peck: Joins the Stampede
Written by Michaela Stock. Courtesy of Orville Peck


I always knew my whole life I wanted to be a performer,” said Daniel Pitout, professionally known as Orville Peck. “I don’t think anybody in my family, or my life, ever imagined me doing anything else.”

Unsurprisingly, Pitout began to pursue these artistic aspirations at a young age. When he wasn’t in ballet class or working as a voiceover artist, Pitout was teaching himself how to play the piano and guitar.

“I had a little Casio keyboard that I think I probably got for a birthday or something when I was a little, and I had my father’s acoustic guitar always around the house,” Pitout said. “I used to play on the guitar and write little songs, and play on the keyboard and write little songs.”

Now a country music phenomenon, Pitout’s “little songs” have grown into chart-topping statements. Under the anonym Orville Peck, Pitout took over the number one spot on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart for a week straight in 2022. His EP Show Pony and record Bronco also snagged top ten remarks on Billboard’s Folk/Americana Albums charts, leaving Pitout with more than 85 million Spotify streams on his top five tracks alone.

With his recently released third record, Stampede: Vol. 1, Pitout is bringing other artists into his world. All seven tracks on the new album feature Pitout’s colleagues–from Willie Nelson and Elton John, to Noah Cyrus and Nathaniel Rateliff.

“I never thought that I would have the chance to kind of explore all these different sides of myself with these other artists,” Pitout said. “It was really an adventure for me.”

Pitout’s intention wasn’t just to trade verses with his collaborators–he wanted to properly co-write with them.

“That was really the goal that I set out with on this album. I didn’t want it to feel like just one of my regular albums that had a bunch of features on it,” Pitout said.

“I wanted it to feel like each song was a true fifty-fifty collaboration between me and whoever the other artist was, and that means their writing style, their genre, whatever it might be.”

This challenge led Pitout to write in genres he hadn’t experimented with before, such as his Spanish language collaboration with Italian-Mexican pop artist Bu Cuaron.

“I just wouldn’t have had the confidence even a few years ago to kind of step outside my comfort zone in terms of genre. It’s made me really grow as an artist,” Pitout said.

“I think I’ll probably, after this, stick to country music and do my thing, but I’m so happy I got to have this little adventure with all these different artists.”

Despite being a traditional-style country musician, Pitout’s take on the genre is anything but. His signature, queer-centered narrative is still threaded throughout Stampede: Vol. 1–especially on his track titled Cowboys are Secretly Fond of Each Other, which features Willie Nelson.

In fact, Pitout’s perspective has budded into a career that challenges fans to reexamine their stereotypes around the genre as a whole.

“I know that firsthand it can be a pretty stigmatized landscape. It’s sort of interesting to see people just catching up to it now, but I’m so happy that it’s happening because we can always use more diversity in country music.”

With country releases also coming from Beyoncé, Post Malone, and even Lana Del Rey, it’s safe to say that the genre is having a mainstream moment. Pitout hopes that country music’s brightened spotlight will start to shine on more diverse perspectives that, like his, have always been there.

“It’s sort of interesting to see for those of us who have been in the genre or fans of the genre for a long time, and especially those of us who have known about the untold story of the diversity within country music that has always existed,” Pitout said.

“On one hand, I’m so happy that there is a light being shed for people, that country is this diverse genre…and then on the other hand, it’s funny to see, because I’ve always known about that side of country and always championed it and admired it.”

Finally back on the road with his own work, Pitout has a long six months of touring ahead–including a stop in Grand Rapids on June 5th at the Frederik Meijer Gardens. His current Stampede Tour is a partial reschedule of last year’s dates, which Pitout had to postpone for his mental and physical health.

Pitout hadn’t ever canceled a show before, except during the pandemic. However, this decision proved to be the best choice for his career–both then and now.

“I started doing a lot of meditation, a lot of work journaling, lots of therapy. I got into my best physical health I’ve ever been in in my life,” Pitout said. “It was the absolute best decision I’ve ever made for myself, because I feel happier and healthier than I’ve ever felt in my life.”

From playing his father’s guitar as a child, to now co-writing an album with living legends, Pitout’s career continues to champion the diverse voices he’s seen in country music all along–including his own. With a new tour, new record deal and newly released album, his dedication to songwriting is carving an unprecedented path for queer artists in an otherwise stigmatized landscape.

“I think it’s a win for all of us country musicians who are maybe a little different than just the status quo,” Pitout said. “It’s a win for country music in general.”

Orville Peck
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
June 5