By Dale Henry Geist, Publisher
Before we start, I just want you to say that headline out loud. Fun, right?
What do you notice about this list?: Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Valerie June, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah. Yes, they are all incredible artists. And, as you surely have guessed, three of these five multiple-nominees for Americana Awards are family.
Amythyst Kiah got three noms: one as a member of Our Native Daughters (Duo/Group of the Year) and individually for Song of the Year (“Black Myself”) and Emerging Act of the year. Let the record show that we were early to the party: Amythyst was a guest on Episode 2 of our podcast.)
Allison Russell garnered a nom for Emerging Act of the Year as a solo artist, as well as one with Our Native Daughters in the duo/group category. (Yes, reader, if you’ve been doing your math you’ve realize that OND is half queer!) Let the record show that the party for Ms. Russell has only just started and we. Are. There.
And then there’s Brandi. One of the leading lights in the Americana world for nearly a decade. Although she didn’t release a new album in this cycle, her frequent collaborations (remember the Brandy/Brandi songs last year?) and her presence on livestreams and TV got her a nod for Artist of the Year (which she won in 2019.) She also shared in the Highwomen’s nomination for Duo/Group of the year (which they won in 2020.) Let the record show that Brandi was a primary inspiration for the creation of Country Queer.
Joy Oladokun, also fam, snagged a nom for Emerging Act of the Year. If you’re counting, you’ll notice that Black, queer women earned three of the five slots in this category.
Folks, we are part of a movement. And this movement absolutely includes our Black siblings. In addition to Allison Russell, Amythyst Kiah, Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla (these four also comprising Our Native Daughters), Valerie June, and Joy Oladokun, these great Black acts grabbed noms: Black Pumas and The War and Treaty (Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount) for Duo/Group; and Charley Crockett for Emerging Artist of the Year.
One ambiguous note, though: Americana is well ahead of country when it comes to acknowledging cis women, which is to be applauded. But: where are the queer folks who are not cis women? Surely they’re making great music, too.
Still: congratulations to the brilliant country queers who got noms, and congratulations to the Americana Awards nominating committee for recognizing that talent is talent regardless of…anything.