Yesterday it was announced that Marcus K. Dowling is the 2021 recipient of the Stone Chet Flippo Award For Excellence In Country music Journalism. Dowling, has spent the last year or so trailblazing as a Black journalist investigating and reporting on the state of country music. While it is a clearly deserved honor, the acknowledgement of Black excellence within the country music community remains unprecedented. We spoke with Dowling about what this award means for not only him but the current state of the industry as a whole.
Holly: What does this award mean to you?
Marcus K. Dowling: It means that dedicated hard work and passion, mixed with a dynamic time in both America and country music, can yield incredible, unexpected, and unprecedented succcess. Without any of those facets occuring, my space and growth within country mousic would not able to occur so quickly.
Holly: How does receiving this award feel different from other awards you’ve won?
Marcus K. Dowling: It’s country music, and for nearly a century, country music was a sealed box of a genre for people who looked like me, people who had my background and people who passionately wanted to have access and visibility within the genre and its industry. It’s different bcecause number one, to have access is an honor within itself. Number two, to be able to achieve acclaim inside that access doubles the honor.
Holly: What do you think is different now in country music that has allowed you to be successful within this space?
I almost wholeheartedly credit the digital rise of streaming wihin country music for opening country music’s eyes, ears, and hearts to the creativity and desires of Black people who wish to be seen, heard, and respected within country music.
Holly: What does this change now that a Black person has recieved this honor?
Marcus K. Dowling: For one of me, there are 10 to a hundred others who possess equal or greater talent than what I bring to the table. It is my full intention, that I wish to inspire and advocate for the success of those 10 to one hundred others who deserve and demand to be heard and seen.
Holly: What can we expect look forward to from you next?
Marcus K. Dowling: A goal for me within the next twelve months is to grow my institutional footprint within the highest echelons of country music. In the next 5-10 years at least 2 other Black journalists to specifically achieve receiving this same or similar awards and overall for the rest of my career I want to be seen as a person who demands equity and respect for all who wish to claim a piece of country music’s pie as their own.
Holly: Is there any one in particular you’d like to thank that helped guide you to this moment?
Marcus K. Dowling: As always, I want to thank Ang Zimmer at The Boot, who saw the urgency in my message and gave me the platform to speak my truth about the moment and as well to showcase my desire to want to consistently embrace the totality of country music; it’s past, present, and future.