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Black Artists are Breaking Barriers in the Country Music Scene


What’s playing on your high-end car stereo system? Maybe you’re into some cool R&B, or some old Motown during your commute to work in the early mornings. Or perhaps you want something a little more exhilarating, something that gets the blood flowing like some hip hop or rap.

Whatever the case, you’re so into your music, you replaced the tiny, mid-range system that came standard with your car with something that offers far more clarity and lots more bass (because it’s all about the bass). All you had to do was a simple online search with the phrase, car stereos near me, and you were in business.



Maybe you even spent a little more money on your car stereo than you had budgeted. But it’s worth it because in these prohibitive days of the COVID-19 pandemic and limited travel, your only escape has been your car and its sound system. You love all kinds of music, your eclectic tastes ranging from classical to heavy rock, to country. That’s right, country.


While it’s taken you a lifetime to warm up even to the idea of experiencing just a little country music, it just so happens that this very American-born musical genre is going through some exciting changes making it more appealing than ever before. And those changes reflect a very positive societal and cultural shift as more and more Black artists are rising to the top of the country billboard.


According to a recent news report, when Nashville’s newest breakout sensation, Mickey Guyton, performed a powerful rendition of her “Black Like Me” at the most recent Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, it proved more than just a song. It became a powerful moment for all Black singer/songwriters looking to make their mark in what had until recently been a brand of music dominated almost entirely by white artists.


The proof can be found in the music of Black country artists like Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen, and Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish fame. In the wake of Rucker being the second only Black singer to ever co-host the Country Music Awards (CMAs), Guyton is said to be the first African-American woman to co-host the most recent Academy of Country Music Awards along with Keith Urban.


Add to that, the ACMs featured an unprecedented five Black acts. Guyton, Brown and Allen all performed, and so did the Americana duo, War and Treaty. Meanwhile, gospel sensation CeCe Winans joined Carrie Underwood for a heart-warming duet. Making 2021 an even more important breakout year for Black performers in the country music scene, Allen has earned a spot as new male artist of the year. This is said to be a historic triumph for him since he is officially the first Black recipient of an ACM new artist award.


Said Allen to the New York Post, “It’s about time. What I’m hoping it does is open some doors for more Black artists to have success in-country and more Black artists to feel comfortable enough to do country if that’s what they want to do.”


Speaking on behalf of Guyton, the CEO of the Academy of Country Music, Damon Whiteside said, “We’re incredibly proud to have her as the co-host. She’s got a wonderful personality and is so talented. And she’s a member of our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, so we work a lot with her.”


Regardless of her seemingly overnight success, Guyton has been at the country music game for quite a while. She’s also faced a whole lot of obstacles as a Black artist in a traditionally white person’s genre. This might explain why she has yet to release a full album of material, her catalog consisting of just four EPs. But all that will change later this year when her first full album will finally be released on the Universal Music Group Nashville label.


Says the president of the label, Cindy Mabe, “To be honest, I think that we probably…underestimated a lot of (Guyton’s challenges). You go out and see it in the marketplace. She’s out on festival dates, and there’s confederate flags flying around.” But that didn’t stop Guyton from heralding her African-American experience with “Black Like Me.” In fact, it’s helped her establish her country music domain, confederate flags be damned.



Mabe went on to say, “(Guyton) took on a whole completely different life of, ‘All right, this is what my mission is: My mission is to open the door wider for other people. I’m gonna say the things that are true to who I am.”


So what’s playing on your high-end car stereo? Rap, rock, reggae? If you love music as much as your car audio investment says you do, you might want to try out some brand new country music coming from some of the genre’s most exciting, ground and color barrier-breaking Black artists.

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