"People just want to connect to music that makes them feel something," Kacey Musgraves says of the response to her acclaimed third album
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Kacey Musgraves just might be the Grammy Awards‘ golden girl this year.

Following the March 2018 release of her third album Golden Hour, the country singer ascended to a new level of stardom.

The genre-spanning LP, inspired in part by her marriage to singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly, received rave reviews from critics as well as her peers: Harry Styles invited Musgraves to open for him on his arena tour, then in December she performed at the Global Citizen: Mandela 100 concert alongside Beyoncé, JAY-Z and Ed Sheeran.

The career-defining Golden Hour is also earning Musgraves accolades. She took home the album of the year prize at the CMA Awards in November. And Musgraves was nominated for four Grammy Awards this year, including album of the year, best country album, best country solo performance (“Butterflies”) and best country song (“Space Cowboy”).

Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour

For this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Musgraves — who’s in the middle of her mesmerizing Oh What a World: Tour — opened up about her whirlwind year, women in music and why her Grammy nominations for Golden Hour are so meaningful.

Which female musician changed your life?

Years ago, Katy Perry tweeted about my first single, “Merry Go ‘Round” and it brought upon an explosion of new listeners to my music.

What’s the hardest part about being a woman in music?

Unequal pay, unequal festival billing, unequal radio play. Having to work that much harder to overcome all of those unfortunate and archaic deficits.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stop. Tweezing. Your. Eyebrows.

2018 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival - Day 2
Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty

Which of your fellow nominees are you most inspired by?

Janelle Monáe — because she has the courage to be as unique as she wants to be.

What was the biggest pinch-me moment of the past year?

Singing my song “Rainbow” — with Chris Martin on piano — to 75,000 people in a stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.

What does it mean to have Golden Hour recognized by the Recording Academy, particularly for Album of the Year?

This record is very personal to me. More personal than any bit of art I’ve ever made. Also — so much great music was released this year. I really believe that art is thriving. Being nominated alongside great albums that garner way larger sales numbers and radio play is extra special for me. It lets me know that hard work does pay off, and also that people just want to connect to music that makes them feel something regardless of what genre it’s labeled under.

The 61st Grammy Awards are broadcast live from Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 10, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.