COUNTRY MUSIC’S RECKONING: BLACK WOMEN FORGE THEIR OWN PATH IN WHITEWASHED INDUSTRY. Women of color in country music are tired of being shut out of their own genre.
By Olivia Roos Oct. 16, 2020
Rissi Palmer was fed up with reading music articles that mentioned the same five country artists of color over and over again, seemingly erasing the expansive history of Black and brown artists’ contributions to country music.
That’s why Palmer, a successful country artist who has performed at the White House, Lincoln Center and the Grand Ole Opry, started her Apple Music radio show, “Color Me Country.” The show aims to recognize and validate the presence and history of Black and brown women in country music, including Mickey Guyton, Tiera, Miko Marks and many others.
“There are so many people out there that look like me — or are Latina or Latinx or Indigenous or whatever — that want to be in the industry,” said Palmer, who is Black. “And sometimes it just helps to just see somebody that looks like you.”
Palmer’s radio show is named after Linda Martell’s 1970 album “Color Me Country.” Martell was a trailblazer in country music when, in 1969, she became the first Black woman to perform solo at the Grand Ole Opry. But Martell’s contributions to the genre, as well as those of other Black and brown country artists, have largely gone under the radar.
Women of color have long faced a culture of exclusion in country music, a genre that has typically favored white men, even though its roots are linked with early Black American music. Since country music’s founding in the 1920s, only four Black female solo artists and one all-Black female group have charted on a country music chart. On the Billboard list of 50 Top Country Artists in 2019, only four are female solo artists and one is a female group, and none are Black….