What It Means To Be A Black Country Artist
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
With Lil Nas X dominating the charts, as well as cause controversy, more attention to black country artists has come to the forefront. When you think of black country artists, some of the famous ones that usually get named are Charley Pride and his song, "(I'm So) Afraid of Losing You Again," along with Darius Rucker and everyone's favorite, "Wagon Wheel." New names are beginning to pop up as Kane Brown, and Jimmie Allen started to take the charts. Kane's "Used to Be Sober" and Jimmie's "Best Shot" landed spots on the country charts, but what does that mean for black country artists? As a local artist, there are plenty of struggles that we are faced with, but a local black country artist is in its own ballfield.
It is no secret that country music has connections to racism due to its upbringing in the South (the Confederacy). Pamela Foster covers this history in her book, My Country: The African Diaspora's Country Music Heritage. Foster shows how, in the South, instruments such as the fiddle and banjo were used in black culture. This part of history has been left out to believe that music such as jazz, the blues, and spiritual music was the only ones originating from black culture. Growing up in the South means I was raised on country, hip hop/r&b, and spiritual music, so when I decided to make country music, I knew I was going to face obstacles. These obstacles are that in the black community, I knew my audience was going to drop because not a lot of black people listen to country music, some do but not many.
I knew to reach out to a different community as my audience was going to be tough due to the fact I am not a white man; I am a black man making country music. My music wasn't going to sound the same, and my album covers or my single/ep covers won't look the same. Being a black artist in the country world means I have to change who I am to fit in with what's normal, but I refuse to do so. Even my artist name isn't standard, because it is my middle name with the A's changed to V's. I refuse to change my style or anything else about me because I appreciate country music and grew up on it much like everyone else around me in my hometown of Willacoochee.
What is means to be a black country artist is this idea that you have to change who you are or almost succumb to these characteristics most associated with the standard country music artist. People like Jimmie Allen and even Kane Brown are challenging that standard and opening doors for artists like myself. I do see country music becoming more diverse not only in the styles used by Lil Nas X but more diverse artists as well, which means it's taking a step in the right direction. "All tractors ain't green" - Jimmie Allen. What do you think?