Black artists are dominating Country music right now. Most recently Country artist Mickey Guyton became the first African American woman to co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM) on April 18. More than ever, Black artists are taking back their rightful place within Country music and the list continues to grow while history is being made. There are a few iconic artists to consider when discussing Country music, and you’d be surprised at how many of them are Black.
If you love Country music, these are the five Black artists making history and dominating the charts you should watch:
Obviously, we must talk about the Texas native making history within the genre. She has been climbing the Country charts since her single “Better Than You Left Me” was released in 2015. Now, she is a Grammy nominated artist with even more room to grow within the genre and the music industry. It is imperative to mention that Guyton is the only Black female artist signed to a major Nashville label, so breaking barriers in the business is not new for the “Black Like Me” singer.
She spoke with CBS This Morning ahead of her historic hosting opportunity with the ACM Awards on April 15 about being a Black woman in country music, overcoming self doubt and the advice from her husband that helped her move forward.
Guyton continues to change the trajectory for artists in Country music.
A promising rising talent to watch is country-trap singer and songwriter, Breland, whose single “My Truck” is RIAA-certified gold. Breland gained popular attention through social media. “My Truck” also reached No. 26 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and it was later remixed with Sam Hunt. The breakout star has found success in Country music, and he has still discovered ways to excel in other genres. Breland, who refers to himself as “The Pen Point Guard,” has helped write 10 of the 22 songs on Trey Songz’ eighth studio album, Back Home.
Breland grew up performing in a family of gospel singers. He later sang and arranged a cappella with a group called the Phantoms when he was in college at Georgetown University.
There is so much room for Breland to grow within Country music and in the industry. Breland’s more than a one-hit wonder establishing himself in multiple genres as both a singer and a songwriter. It’s only up from here for the young country-trap star.
Platinum producer and artist Blanco Brown went platinum with his debut single and the 2019 Hot Country songs chart-topper, “The Git Up.” The song went viral over social media with a dance to accompany the catchy lyrics as any great song does these days. The country-trap artist has an interesting relationship to the industry being an artist and producer in Hip Hop and R&B years before creating this smash Country hit.
The Atlanta native worked with many artists from Monica, Chris Brown, Pitbull and 2 Chainz before finding his niche in country-trap music. After facing a severe motorcycle accident last August breaking his wrists, arms, legs, and pelvis, he managed to recover in just one month. Blanco Brown is back with a new single called, “Just The Way” and seems to be continuing his wave to takeover the genre.
Lil Nas X
We would be remised if we did not include the highly-controversial artist who pushed his way up the Country charts with his breakout hit “Old Town Road.” The country music lovers and the executives controlling the space were not pleased with Lil Nas X’s ascendence. They did not want to give him rights to classify the evidently country song as “Country” music.
Despite the backlash, Lil Nas X has become one of the biggest artists to date. He’s unapologetically pushing the envelope in Country music and beyond. His latest controversial song “Montero” just became certified platinum after facing both praises and criticisms for the thought-provoking visual.
Similar to many of the other country artists journeys on this list, Kane Brown is a Black Country artist who gained the public’s attention through social media. He signed to RCA Nashville and recorded two singles, which topped Billboard’s five main Country charts in 2017. He released a single entitled “Cool Again” featuring Nelly, who made a prominent move toward Country music many years ago.
Shortly after making visible waves in Country music, Kane released his second album Experiment in 2018, which became his first album to chart at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Once a difficult space for Blacks to conquer, country music now seems far more achievable than ever before. There are many other Black artists creating Country music, but these are a few artists who are breaking the barriers to make room for younger generations to thrive in generally White music spaces. It doesn’t feel like a daunting task to make music in a genre, which is based upon melodic flows and well-crafted storytelling. A space that Black people dominated since ancient African hymns and songs that transcended from Blues, Country and R&B over time.
Check out these successful Country artists who are on the rise! Comment some of your favorite Black Country performers below.