On the July 19 episode of America’s Got Talent, Chapel Hart – three black women from Mississippi – performed her nasal riff on Dolly Parton’s iconic request to the other woman, “You can have her Jolene”. When they finished, the audience jumped to their feet, roared their support, clapped and chanted the “Golden Buzzer,” the key to sending the hometown team to the next round. . Moments later, Judge Simon Cowell told the women, “I need you today.
The singer Danica Hart’s face was wet with tears then – the glory of this time, which will be enthusiastically applauded, waved in waves. But it was her response to Cowell’s question about their efforts to make a name for themselves in country music that provided a clear insight into her emotional state. There is sadness beneath this happiness.
“We’ve been trying to get into Nashville for a couple of years,” Hart said, “but it’s a little difficult when, I think, country music doesn’t always feel like us.”
Significantly, “two years ago” refers to a period of stagnation in country music, the likes of which has not been seen in decades. Two summers ago, on June 2, 2020, black musicians Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas launched #TheShowMustBePaused, an initiative designed, as they wrote in an Instagram post, to “keep the industry on track.” together, including big business + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of black workers” while pushing it to “protect and empower the black community of made them rich in an immeasurable and obvious way”.
On the same day, eight days after George Floyd was killed, Arlington-born Mickey Guyton released “Black Like Me.” On a large scale, the song gave insight into her life as a black woman in America. Songs like “Now that I’m grown up and nothing’s changed / Yeah, it’s still the same” are strong indictments against his decade in the country music industry. If there was any doubt, his interviews with CBS This Morning, Entertainment Tonight, NPR and many other outlets – where he bravely and boldly explained the details about using the N-word, felt questions about his sincerity, trying to get into everything. – white earth – put them to rest.
“It’s kind of hard when country music doesn’t sound like us.”
Considering that the protests that followed the killing of Floyd and the anger in general are part of a global epidemic, the focus on the music industry’s mistreatment of black creators is too big for country music to ignore. . But instead of taking personal responsibility for the industry’s sins or offering heartfelt apologies that can lead to real healing, individuals and companies have rushed to save face. Diversity panels and task forces were convened, almost always organized by white people who wanted to position themselves as forward-thinking leaders of a more diverse industry instead of the old-guard, status-quo proponents. they had always been. For the benefit of the audience outside, including the skeptics who are always looking sideways at the people going backstage daring to turn their noses up at the looks of Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks and they love the Country Music Association Awards in 2016, the company works overtime. Turn off his TV show. Not only was Guyton nominated for New Female Artist of the Year at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards in April 2021. (Ironically, she was nominated for the same award six years earlier, after the release of her debut single “You’d Rather Leave Me.”) She also co-hosted the show with Keith Urban and became the first black woman to perform in ACMs while singing “Hold On,” cut from the soundtrack to the 2019 movie Breakthrough.
Other members also participated in various acts, adding a few new names (Breland, Brittney Spencer) and a well-chosen group of black actors (Guyton, Jimmie Allen, Kane Brown, Darius Rucker ) and inverting them. around. Again. It’s a calculated decision that will allow the company to avoid past blame even if it escapes current scrutiny. For the vast majority of people who don’t know anything else – who only see what the industry wants them to see – the effort to promote black artists is a big deal.