By the Country Queer Staff
In this, Country Queer’s first full year of operation, one of the delightful surprises has been just how much great country and Americana music is being made, all the time, everywhere, by LGBTQ+ folks. It’s a cornucopia. It’s been a privilege to bring you not only the better-known artists, but also some of the truly excellent lesser-known artists. It’s our devout hope that by highlighting the great work being done by country queers, we may give the larger culture a shove in the direction of more inclusiveness.
— Dale Henry Geist, Editor-in-Chief
Sydney Miller, Associate Editor
“Look the Other Way,” Katie Pruitt
After her debut album this year, it was unclear what Katie Pruitt’s next steps were. But with her single “Look the Other Way,” Pruitt showed us that she was not afraid to step up to the plate and continue to make her mark as a songwriter.
Mya Byrne, Staff Writer
“Here, On the Ground”, LaFemmeBear
I will admit that I’m stuffing the ballot box slightly as I collaborated with LaFemmeBear on this, but regardless, it marks the first time this badass trans hip-hop and R&B producer and performer has dipped her toes into folk-Americana, and is one heck of a moody ode, like a postmodern Nick Drake meets the tenderest side of Brittany Howard.
Bonus Pick: “Catcher in the Rye,” Ryan Cassata
Sean Farragher, Playlist Curator
“Clean Slate,” Amanda Munro
Amanda Munro’s “Clean Slate” is such a perfect queer country song that you might not even notice that it is one until your second or third listen.
Cher Guevara, Staff Writer
“Shuffling Fool,” Paisley Fields
Paisley has never been one to shy away from experimenting with what it means to be a country artist, and “Shuffling Fool” is the best representation of that. It sounds like a honky-tonk band playing in an uptown happening nightclub. Who couldn’t dig that?
Margie Neely, Live Events
“Who You Thought I Was,” Brandy Clark
Eryn Brothers, Staff Writer
“Goodnight Virginia Woolf,” Namoli Brennet
How the ever loving hell I’ve slept on Namoli Brennet is beyond me. This song is a beautiful, Wrecking Ball-esque homage to the genre bending, gender traveling, feminist dynamo herself.
Bonus Pick: “A Certain Kind of Fool,” Willi Carlisle
Dale Henry Geist, Editor-in-Chief
“New Kind of Outlaw,” D’orjay the Singing Shaman
In a year where Black voices rose to reclaim their birthright, this song, by a queer Canadian newcomer, throws the gauntlet to Nashville in no uncertain terms: “I love country music – will country music lovе me?”
Bonus Pick: “Neon Cross,” Jaime Wyatt
Adeem Bingham, “Buried Treasure” Editor
“An Offering,” Tender Creature
This was one of my Buried Treasure submissions which is in the “vaguely Americana” category but I have listened to this one probably more than any other song this year. It gives me so many big feelings.
Bonus Pick: “Shiver,” Waylon Payne
James Barker, Staff Writer
“Country Radio,” Indigo Girls
“I’m just a gay kid in a small town who loves country radio”: in this single line Indigo Girls perfectly capture my complex relationship with country music: loving a genre whose institutions I have felt rejected and alienated from, yet I continue to identify with the music.
Bonus Pick: “Kiss Me, Cowboy,” Tommy Atkins
Rachel Cholst, Podcast Producer
“Winter Night,” Paisley Fields
Electric Park Ballroom had so many seamless stylistic shifts, but I had a lot of fun seeing Paisley take on bawdy Americana rock with “Winter Night.” Country music — and the queer experience — feeds so much on isolation and loneliness. As queer country comes into its own I’m excited to see space for queer joy — and queer sex.
Bonus Pick: “GD Trouble,” charlie mtn
A note about inclusiveness: It’s wonderful that we’re moving the larger culture toward more inclusiveness of queer voices, and our Staff Picks are all thoroughly deserving. Having said that, we notice that they are mostly white and cis. We pledge to continue seeking out and highlighting queer BIPoC and trans artists, and, following from that, we expect to see more diversity in our Staff Picks as time goes on. – Ed.