By Sydney Miller, Associate Editor
If you’re a country music fan, there’s a few things you need to understand. Most important is that country music is in no way, shape, or form exclusively the music of white people. Black Americans have always made top-shelf country music, though they almost never get the recognition they deserve.
The road is even rougher for queer Black country musicians. Yet here they are, making some of the finest country music around.
(For more great Black, queer country artists, see our previous article on the subject.)
Oladokun is a fast-rising folk artist out of Nashville with a Spotify bio to die for. Her soft piano and powerful lyrics make her a musical force. “breathe again,” off her debut album, was featured on the t.v. show This Is Us. Listening to her songs is, in her words, “like reading [her] diary.” Take a peek.
D’orjay the Singing Shaman
D’orjay only recently popped on our radar with her debut album, New Kind of Outlaw, but she is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is her voice deep and powerful, but she uses a variety of honky-tonk instruments to create a fully immersive country album. D’orjay is also a Pranic Healer who, among other things, does Tarot card readings.
Matthews grew up in southeast North Carolina, the daughter of a small town preacher. She identifies as a butch lesbian and social-justice songwriter on a mission to inspire hope. An essential part of that inspiration is witnessing. Violence that is named can be faced and fought. Hope that is named can be believed in and built on. Matthews calls out violence, and she’s just as loud in celebrating people working for justice. — Allison Kinney
Jake Blount is not just a musician. He is a storyteller, an activist, a historian. On his first full length, “Spider Tales,” Blount brings his passion and knowledge (spanning from The Smithsonian to Yale, to being the first Black person to reach the finals at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival) to the legacy of Black voices and LGBTQ+ narratives. (Eryn Brothers, from their “Spider Tales” review.)
A rockstar on the banjo and guitar with a voice like a hurricane, Kiah is a singular talent. Perhaps best-known as one-fourth of Americana supergroup Our Native Daughters, penning their anthem “Black Myself,” her solo career is shaping up to be just as impressive. We eagerly await the follow up to her debut album, Dig.
Brittany Howard dominated the Americana Music Association Awards last year, garnering a nomination for Artist, Album, and Song of the Year, as well as cinching five Grammy nominations. Her debut solo album, Jaime, is a tasty blend of Americana, rock and R&B.
Blackberri and Friends are a country blues outfit founded in the ’70s that will have you nodding your head and tapping your feet. The sound is rich, full, and a reminder that Black queer country artists have been around for a while — and they aren’t going anywhere.
The first female musician on the Tonight Show Band with Jay Leno, Vicki Randle knows how to lay down a jaunty beat. She has her own solo album, Sleep City, from 2006, but she’s also been playing and touring with Mavis Staples for the past 8 years.
Apollo Flowerchild is an indie/folk artist out of New York. Their soft voice, thoughtful lyrics, and soothing yet stimulating instrumental backings make a perfect soundtrack to a quiet morning drinking coffee or a late night of writing.