From Classics to Crossover, Black Musicians Making Noise In Country Music

July 1, 2021 Kara Weinand

Back in 2019, Lil Nas X released a song that changed pop culture, music and the ideas around what was considered “country music.” As controversial as the song was to some people for using elements of hip-hop and therefore not being able to be considered “country” enough, there has long since been a tradition of this in the space. With artists like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line pulling from these same sounds, it felt to people in the Black community that his removal from the Billboard Hot Country chart may have had something to do with race. Since then, music has been flooded with people hopping on the horse (ha) to give their own variation on the track, including styles from rap, soul, R&B and pop music. But Black artists in the country music space is nothing new.

In Ken Burns’ 2019 documentary series Country Music, he dives into some of the greatest country legends and their careers, but one of the themes throughout [...]

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