Black country singers have been as fundamentally influential in the country and cowboy genre charts since their inception... but many don't often get credited. In fact, time and again, popular black country songs are forced off the charts and considered "less" country simply because of who might be singing them, or how. In order to combat the suppression of black voices, we wanted to make a list of black country singers and black country artists you should know.
01.Black Country Singer Aaron Neville
The noted soul singer dabbled in country with a cover of George Jones’ “The Grand Tour.” The single made it onto the Billboard country charts, another achievement in Neville’s illustrious career.
COURTESY OF AARON NEVILLE
02. Black Country Artist Carl Ray
The singer-songwriter seamlessly blends bluegrass, country, and blues, He’s opened for Teddy Pendergrass and BB King.
COURTESY OF CARL RAY
03. Cleve Francis
Francis was a cardiologist before launching his country career, which has received tons of acclaim but was short –lived, primarily due to ageism and race. The singer was in his 40s when he launched his career, but race played a part in how the audience received him as well. He told the Washington Post, “Race was the elephant in the room. I was a black guy doing it at a time when black and white mattered,” noting that his booking agent was told by one bar owner, “I will not have this n—r in here.”
COURTESY OF CLEVE FRANCIS
04. Carolina Chocolate Drops
Currently consisting of four members, the old-time string band has opened for Bob Dylan and performed at Bonaroo. The group formed mostly as a tribute to African American old-time fiddler Joe Thompson and their 2010 album Genuine Negro Jig earned them a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album.
COURTESY OF CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS
05. Tina Turner
Tina Turner may not be the first person to come to mind when you think about country music, but the legendary entertainer’s first solo album was actually a collection of country songs chiefly composed of country covers. The album earned her a 1975 Grammy nomination.
KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES
06. The Pointer Sisters
The sisters’ 1974 album That’s a Plenty included country hit “Fairytale.” The song was so successful the sisters performed at the Grand Ole Opry, becoming the first black female group to do so. The also won Grammys for Best Country Song and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
07. Mickey Guyton
The Texas-born singer received a standing ovation after making her debut at the Grand Ole Opry. Since then she’s been working hard, releasing two Eps and riding the high from her summer jam “Heartbreak Song.” Earlier this year she was nominated for New Female vocalist of the Year at the ACM awards.
08. Charli Pride
Pride is one of the very few black country artists to achieve incredible success within the genre and one of only three to be inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Pride has earned three Grammys, three CMA awards, the Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music Awards, and been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The man is a legend.
2016 TERRY WYATT/GETTY IMAGES
09. Candi Staton
In 2014, Stanton told the UK’s The Telegraph, “I’m ready to be celebrated,” and she should be. The singer began her career as a gospel-country musician before transitioning to blues, disco, then back to gospel.
2016 DAVID M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES
10. Miko Marks
Born in Mississippi, but raised in Flint, Michigan, the singer was named Best New Country Artist at the 2006 New Music Weekly Awards. Erykah Badu also made a guest appearance in the singer’s first music video for her single “Mama.” The singer has also won three Independent Music Awards.
11. Cowboy Troy
Cowboy Troy has carved a niche for himself by blending country and rap, topping country charts with his albums Loco Motive and Back in the Saddle.
2014 JEFF KRAVITZ/GETTY IMAGES
12. Darius Rucker
After rising to fame in the Grammy-winning band Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker launched a career as a country singer. “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,’’ the first single from his album Learn to Live, went to number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart making him the first black artist to reach number since Charley Pride.
2016 JOHN SHEARER
Dubbed The First Lady of Country Soul, Petrel has been in the game for over 25 years and performed with the likes of Gladys Knight and Tracy Lawrence. In 2013, talking to Billboard about her career and the lack of diversity she said, “There aren’t a lot of women of color in the business. I celebrate that, but I do wonder why I don’t see more people like me. I don’t get it.”
COURTESY OF PETRELLA
14 Milton Patton
Patton, a Youtube sensation and finalist on America’s Got Talent, decided to take things into his own hands after turning a record deal. He’s since spent time traveling and performing.
15. Vicki Vann
The singer-songwriter released five stellar albums from 1999-2011 and appeared in the CMT documentary Waiting in the Wings: African-Americans in Country Music, which focuses on African-Americans in country music and their contributions to the genre.
16. Trini Triggs
The singer’s self-titled debut album produced three singles that landed on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. In 2013, he released a best of collection.
COURTESY OF TRINI TRIGGS
17. Dwight Quick
Quick moved to Nashville right after graduating from high school and has been chasing his country music dreams ever since. He once told The Guardian, “Why do I want to sing country? Because it’s me. It’s who I am. God blessed me with a voice – I was put h
COURTESY OF DWIGHT QUICK
18. Scott Eversoll
COURTESY OF SCOTT EVERSOLL