Julie Williams

Julie Williams moved from Tampa, FL to Nashville to defy the odds and become part of the country scene that other Black women like Rissi Palmer, Mickey Guyton, and Brittney Spencer are cultivating.

 

A southern belle with a sweet voice, Williams is poised for a breakthrough career. She released a single called  “Southern Curls” and it’s music video in the first quarter of 2021 and things are going nowhere but up from here!

A Historic Win For Black Achievement Within Country Music, Marcus K. Dowling Takes Home The Rolling Stone Prize

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.

 

KY Gentlemen

Twin brothers Derek and Brandon Campbell serve up a healthy serving of country wrapped in a whole lot of soul as Kentucky Gentlemen.

 

“Their latest video for “VIBIN” is a slice of breezy, relaxing life hanging out with an airstream trailer,” says Marcus K. Dowling for CMT.+

 

Derek and Brandon decided to move to Nashville to pursue their dreams after leaving college and have been making music together ever since. The music video for their latest release, “Vibin” premiered on CMT this year (2021.)

Sunny War

Sunny War is the perfect mix of folk, punk, and social justice.  She uses both her music and her free time to uplift communities and sets a shining example for what it means to be an artist that makes a difference.

 

When War is not creating powerful music, she is spending her time trying to make a better life for the Los Angeles homeless community. She founded and works for the LA chapter of Food Not Bombs.

 

War’s discography is a diary of sorts, chronicling her growth as both an artist and a person. Since 2014, War has released six albums: “Worthless”, “Red Whited and Blue”, “With the Sun”, “Particle War”, “Shell of a Girl”, and her latest in 2021 “Simple Syrup”.

Joy Oladokun

A Nashville resident by way of Arizona, Joy Oladokun has been making her own way in Music City. She calls herself the “trap Tracy Chapman” and  Oladokun’s sound encompasses her unique experience as a Black, queer, first generation Nigerian-American, folk artist.

 

Oladokun boasts a lengthy discography dating back to 2016. Her most recent singles “Wish You The Best”, “Jordan” and “Sorry Isn’t Good Enough” were all released in 2021, and she isn’t done yet. Another single with Maren Morris is set to release soon.

 

Oladokun’s music has been featured on the hit shows “Grey’s Anatomy”, “This is Us”, “The L Word” and “Catfish”. She has performed on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and was named a member of the inaugural #YoutubeBlackVoices class of 2021 as well as Vogue’s #1 new LGBTQ artists  to listen to.

My Country Story: Kristin F

My Country Story: Kristin F.

Sunny: So Kristin, tell us a little about yourself. Anything that you feel comfortable sharing.

Kristin F: I live in Florida now but am originally from Nashville, TN. I’ve been in Florida since 2004 and now have a husband and 2 daughters. It was just me when I moved here. Music and photography are two of my favorite things.

Before COVID, I went to concerts all the time. I also work in live entertainment, so concerts are both my job and my pastime. I do freelance photography as well.

While I was in Nashville, I aspired to be a professional singer. That never happened, but I do still sing at various functions from time to time when the opportunity arises.

 

Sunny:  What is your earliest memory of listening to country music?

Kristin: I remember listening to Kenny Rogers in particular when I was very young, probably elementary school age. Those old songs of his from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s are still some of my favorites.

 

Sunny: Which country artist has made an impact on you the most and why?

Kristin: If I have to pick just one, my mind first goes to Shania Twain. It wasn’t until she caught my eye on an awards show in the ‘90s that I actually started to identify myself as a country fan. I was blown away by her and just had to see what she was all about.

I loved her spunk, beauty, and rock & roll attitude. That was a side of country I’d never seen before, and it intrigued me. That led me to listening to other country artists and to focusing more on singing and writing country myself where I’d previously considered myself more of a pop or R&B singer.

Now, there’s pretty much a twang in everything I sing, no matter the genre! I guess you could say I found my country and never let it go.

 

Sunny: If you could wave a magic wand, what is the first thing that you would change about the country music industry?

Kristin: I’ve long been frustrated that it wasn’t more inclusive. That’s slowly starting to change, but I’m old enough to remember living in Nashville and seeing so many artists who were supposedly “the next big thing” get swept aside because it got out that they were gay.

I can also not count the times I’ve been out to sing somewhere and the people in the audience were visibly surprised by my (country) song choices. Once they hear me sing they seem impressed, but it shouldn’t really be that shocking to hear a Black girl nail a country song.

As far as we’ve come, I see some of the rude remarks and hate that artists like Mickey Guyton get online now, and it’s sad. For a while, I expected to be that breakthrough artist that she is, and when I see all that, it breaks my heart. It could’ve just as easily been me having to deal with all that. It shouldn’t be anyone.

Let us sing what we want to sing, and play Black country artists and gay country artists on the radio. Let the talent speak for itself.

 

Sunny:  Aside from country music, what are your other favorite genres?

Kristin: Besides country, I listen mostly to pop and rock music, especially from the ʼ80s and ‘90s. At the risk of sounding old: I am not much of a fan of a lot of today’s new music, except for new country. Of course, there are a few exceptions to that rule.

 

Sunny:  What country artist collaboration would you love to hear that hasn’t been done yet?

Kristin: I’m pretty crazy about Jon Pardi, so I’d love to see him pair up with some of my other faves like Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini.

Even a duet between Carrie and Kelsea would be awesome. Carrie and Kelsea have sung together on the Opry before, but to my knowledge, they’ve never recorded together.

 

Sunny: Which country artist’s concert have you attended that still stays on your mind?

Kristin: I’ve been to more concerts than I can remember, so that’s a hard question. Thinking of more recent years, I’d say one that I really loved was getting to see Jimmie Allen at Disney World’s EPCOT.

Their concerts are pretty intimate, and I’m able to sit close and get great photos. When I saw Jimmie, he sounded even better than the records, and at one point, he came off the stage and stood right next to me.

Before I knew it, we were actually hugging! Heʼs a great hugger AND a great singer.

 

Sunny:  As a Black country music fan, what do you think the industry could do to be
more inclusive?

Kristin: As I’ve already touched upon, radio airplay is huge. Fans like myself can share new artists online as much as we want, but the truth of the matter is most people don’t care unless it’s an artist they already know.

Once they hear them on the radio or see them on the awards shows, Opry, or CMT, it gets them the exposure they need. Executives love to say there’s no market for non-traditional artists, but that’s a lie they tell themselves to make themselves feel better, in my opinion. People can’t request or buy what they don’t know about.

 

Sunny:  Please tell us your top 10 all time favorite country songs! 

Kristin: Again, so hard to do. But here are 10 that I love, without thinking about it too much.

“Home Ainʼt Where His Heart Is” Shania Twain
“She Believes in Me” Kenny Rogers
Iʼm Not Supposed to Love You Anymore” – Bryan White
“Love Without You” Darius Rucker w/Sheryl Crow
“Ainʼt Always the Cowboy” – Jon Pardi
“Real Live Woman” – Trisha Yearwood
“Stand By Your Man” – Tammy Wynette
“Itʼs Not Just Me” – Rascal Flatts
“Like We Never Loved At All” – Faith Hill w/Tim McGraw
“Rainy Season” Hunter Hayes

If you would like to follow and connect with Kristin, check out her social media pages listed below!

Twitter: @42nagirl
Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/mikeysbride
Tumblr (blog): mikeysbride.tumber.com
IG: instagram.com/fortunaphotography
Facebook: facebook.com/fortunaphotography

Delila Black Delivers A Classic Country Waltz with a Social Justice Twist

DeLila Black delivers as usual wit her new track, “Accountability”. The UK based country songstress,  is releasing her second lock-down single on May 14, 2021 with the support of a Color Me Country Grant.

 

“I usually do a theme, love and something else,” says DeLila. This track is no different, serving up a tougher side of love in the form of “Accountability.”

 

Accountability – DeLila Black

Have you no shame?
You know you should when you recall all the things you say.
When you recall all the things you do who gets the blame.
It’s always the same.

Have you no shame?
I know you do when thinking of all the measures that you took
To be absolved, who is at fault? Everyone but you. It’s never you.

You blame your mom, your dad, the childhood you never had,
your friends, your fears, your thoughts.
It’s all the heart break to blame. Everyone but you. It’s never you.

What do you think about, what do you figure out
as you wonder how this came to be?
Do you ponder when you wonder before you fall gently to sleep?
And in the night do you awake
because your mind is all a flutter with all these things?
Does accountability come one day to everyone but you?

You blame your mom, your dad, the childhood you never had
your friends, your education.
You blame your job, your home, your kids, your wife,
the law, the church, your god, your life,
the way you feel today, the love that let you slip away,
your fears. Your validation:
It’s all the heart break to blame.
Everyone but you. It’s never you.

Keep up with DeLila Black and be sure not to miss the official release of “Accountability” on May 14, 2021 on her Bandcamp.

Joy Clark

Joy Clark has quite an impressive resume. Clark was a founding member of  Soulkestra(now disbanded) and has performed with Water Seed and Cyril Neville. She’s played large festivals like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival.

 

A product of New Orleans, with influences such as Tracy Chapman and Anita Baker, Clark delivers a gentle brand of rootsy blues music. “When folks ask me what genre of music I am, I just say I make people cry,” says Clark.

 

In 2020, Clark released the EP “Here” which included the popular single, “Never Change”. 

New music from Brei Carter

Brei Carter has released a music video for her new song “Here’s to Nowhere.”  It’s one part party, one part hometown anthem, and ALL the way country. This girl is goin’ places!

Learn more about Brei Carter.

Crys Matthews

Crys Matthews is a beacon of hope, using her musical talent and expert lyricism as tools for change.

 

Matthews refers to herself as “the poster-child for intersectionality” ,all facets of her identity blending together to create an artist that resonates deeply with many.

 

In 2017 Matthews released two projects, “The Imagineers” and “Battle Hymns”. Followed by an EP titled “These Hands” in 2019.  Her most recent release, “Changemakers”, was released in 2021.

 

Matthews was the New Song Music and Performance Competition grand prize winner in 2017. She has also won the People’s Music Network’s Social Justice Songs Contest at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance and performed at many impressive venues and festivals.