5 Black country artists you should know

Mickey Guyton, Rhiannon Giddens and more make our list.

Black musicians’ contributions to country music are at the forefront of everyone’s minds following the release of Beyoncé’s latest country project, “Act II.” Like much of American culture, it has become clear now more than ever that country music is Black music, with its musical structure, signature instruments and more firmly rooted in Black American history. As the conversation surrounding our  reclamation of country music continues, we’re giving you five Black country artists to add to your playlists alongside “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages.”

Rhiannon Giddens

Our first recommendation is Grammy-winning artist Rhiannon Giddens, who for over a decade has made a mark in the country and roots music genres. Starting off in the string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, she was the lead singer, banjo and fiddle player in the band, before beginning her solo career that now includes 5 studio albums, 10 Grammy nominations and 2 wins. Giddens herself appears on the No. 1 song in the country, playing fiddle and viola on Queen Bey’s, “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

Mickey Guyton

Mickey Guyton is yet another trailblazing Black artist in the country music genre. In 2020, as theGrio previously reported, Guyton became the first Black solo female artist to be nominated for a Grammy in a country music category, nearly a decade into her career as a country music singer. Her song “Black Like Me” saw her explicitly speak out about her own experience as a Black woman not only in country music but in the United States of America, all amid the racial reckoning of 2020 following the senseless death of George Floyd. Since then, she released her official debut album in 2021, “Remember Her Name,” to positive reviews.

Tanner Adell

Also on our radar is Tanner Adell, a country artist who is currently going viral online since the release of Beyoncé’s country songs. Adell shouts out the “Break My Soul” singer in her song “Buckle Bunny.” Lip-syncing to “Buckle Bunny” in TikToks and Instagram reels, she says on the 2023 track, “Lookin’ like Beyoncé with a Lasso,” nearly a year before Bey dropped her own country songs.

Check out the viral hit below:

Cedric Burnside

Grammy Award-winning blues artist Cedric Burnside is gearing up for his latest release, “Hill Country Love,” this April. Set to explore the genre of hill country blues, the album is described as, “infused with Burnside’s singular experiences and musical heritage from the rolling hills of Northern Mississippi.” Burnside’s lead single, also titled “Hill Country Love,” gives listeners a taste of what is to come on his highly anticipated new album. Described as a “torchbearer” for the next generation of hill country blues, Burnside won for best traditional blues album at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards in 2022 or “I Be Trying.”

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Willie Jones

Our last pick is Willie Jones, another artist going viral in the latest surge of interest in Black country music. Bringing country music to the clubs, Jones’ signature sound fuses country melodies and lyrics with trap-inspired beats. His album “Something to Dance To,” as the title suggests, brings listeners to the dance floor. Most recently, he took to Apple Music for a “Nashville Session,” where he covered hits like Usher’s “OMG” and Josh Turner’s country classic, “Your Man.”

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