Doc tells story of Rissi Palmer, Black woman in country music

In 2007, she became the first Black woman in 20 years to reach Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.

Country music singer Rissi Palmer is the focus of a new documentary titled “Rissi Palmer: Still Here” from director Dilsey Davis. 

The doc is part of season two’s “American Masters: In the Making,” which airs on PBS. “Rissi Palmer: Still Here” unpacks the rarely-seen journey of a Black woman in country music, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

“None of us want to fail or think we failed because of the color of our skin,” Palmer said in a new interview with the publication. “That has always propelled me to work hard. If you’re telling me no, it’s because there’s somebody better. It made me work really hard on my artistry.”

Rissi Palmer attends the “2022 CMT Music Awards” on April 11, 2022 at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

The film highlights Palmer’s Grand Ole Opry debut in 2007, her performance at the White House and Lincoln Center in New York City, her Color Me Country Radio show on Apple Music, which spotlights artists of color, and the Color Me Country Artist Grant Fund she launched in 2020.

Also featured in the program is her family life along with her resurgence in her 40s and the challenges she has faced in her career as a woman of color. “The documentary does a really great job of trying to touch on everything,” she said. “It’s not the entire Rissi Palmer story, but it does a good job at encapsulating the hurdles faced early on and how they propelled me toward my purpose.”

Palmer released her self-titled debut album in 2007 and became the first Black woman in 20 years to reach Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. A total of five Black women have made it onto that chart, according to the Post-Dispatch.

She released “The Back Porch Sessions EP” in 2015 and a full-length album, “Revival,” in 2019. In 2022, Palmer received two Grammy nominations in the Best Children’s Music Album category for her contributions to the 1 Tribe Collective album, “All One Tribe,” and the 123 Andres album, “Activate.”

Her new album, “Survivor’s Joy,” is scheduled to drop on Friday (March 24).

“I want to make music that matters,” Palmer states in the trailer for “Rissi Palmer: Still Here.”

In a Facebook post, Palmer called the experience “pretty surreal” and told the Post-Dispatch she’s “very honored and grateful for Dilsey for thinking the story was important enough to be shared.”

“Rissi Palmer: Still Here” premieres at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on Nine PBS World. Visit for additional airdates.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!