When one thinks of a country artist, it is usually the image of a white person.
Even in this age where black country artists like Lil Nas X and Kane Brown have released songs that have become anthems, it seems that a lot of people still hold tightly to their stereotype of what country musicians should look like.
Black people have always been tenacious. Their tenacity and ability to break down stereotypes and challenge the status quo have not been excluded from the country music genre.
Below is a list of fifteen famous black country artists you should know.
1. Charley Pride
This country artist is one of the very few black persons found in the country music genre to achieve enormous success with three Grammy awards and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2000.
Another of his outstanding Achievements was in the 1970s when he became the best-selling performer of RCA Records since Elvis Presley. Pride is also a former professional baseball player.
2. Cleve Francis
In late 1980s, Cleveland Francis left his job as a cardiologist to chase his dream career of being a country singer.
Cleve gave the world wonderful hit songs like “Love Light,” “You Do My Heart Good,” “Walking,” and “How Can I Hold You,” which all charted on the Billboard Hot Country Song chart.
3. Mickey Guyton
Mickey Guyton released her debut single “Better Than You Left Me.” “Better Than You Left Me” placed number 56 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart of January 2015. Its success gained her a nomination in the ACM’s New Female Vocalist of the Year.
Mickey also performed solo at the ACM Awards, becoming the first African American woman ever to do that. The Texas born singer has had to deal with those questioning her identity and the genre of music she chose. Speaking on the matter, Guyton told AP, “That was such a frustrating thing for me to have to deal with, because if I were white with blonde hair and green or blue or brown eyes, it wouldn’t even be a question.”
4. Carolina Chocolate Drops
This old-time string band was founded in 2005 by Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, and Leyla McCalla.
Carolina Chocolate Drops creates magic using banjos and black string instruments. Their talent led them to open for country big-shot Bob Dylan and perform at the Bonnaroo.
In 2010, they won a Grammy in the Best Traditional Folk Album category for their Genuine Negro Jig album.
5. Diarus Rucker
Diarus is a multiple award-winning musician. He first acquired fame for his place as the lead singer of the band Hootie and The Blowfish before he became a country artist.
In addition to his Grammy award, Diarus Rucker has also had four of his albums on the Country Billboard chart and nine of his singles charting at number one.
6. Cowboy Troy
Cowboy Troy took the country-western music by storm with his elegant yet powerful mixture of country and rap.
In 2005, this Hick-Hop/Country music star released his first major solo album: Loco Motive, which went on to chart at No.2 on the Billboard Top Country Album. The first single on the album earned him places on the The Billboard Hot Country Song and iTunes Music store chart.
7. The Pointer Sisters
The multi-talented Pointer sisters have achieved critically acclaimed success as Pop, Jazz, Soul, electronic music, blues, country, folk, e.t.c singers.
Their 1974 country album “That’s A Plenty” and single “Fairytale” scored them a place in Canadian (RPM) Top Singles, number 13 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and a spot in the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles.
8. Miko Marks
Miko Marks was given the title of “Best New Country Artist” by New Music Weekly at the start of her career, which is rare for an African American singer and songwriter.
Her debut album “Freeway Bound” received the award for Album of The Year at the IMA and her second album release was also well received by the public.
9. Aaron Neville
Aaron Neville was an excellent Pop and RnB singer known for his dabble in country music with his critically acclaimed George Jones’ “The Grand Tour” cover and the same-titled album.
His rendition “The Grand Tour” made it into the Billboard Country chart at number 37. It was his only album to be certified platinum by the RIAA.
Crowned as the First Lady of Country Soul, Petrella is among the few black, female country singers to perform amongst famous fellow country singers like Tracy Lawrence.
Her sensational music has earned her a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame, amongst other achievements.
11. Carl Ray
Another country singer worth knowing is the Bluegrass prodigy, Carl Ray.
This singer/songwriter has been likened to Vince Gill and has opened for The Spinners, BB King, Teddy Pendergrass, and Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes.
12. Kane Brown
Kane Brown is a black country artist who gained the public’s attention through social media.
He signed with RCA Nashville and recorded two singles which topped Billboard’s five main country charts in 2017.
In 2018, Kane released Experiment, his second album, which became his first album to chart at No.1 on the Billboard 200.
13. Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X’s internationally acclaimed country rap song “Old Town Road” went internationally viral through Tik Tok in 2019 and later became Diamond certified by November 2019.
This young man is one of the few country artists ever to achieve sixty-five nominations and fifteen wins. Will he continue to make music that plays on the boarder line between country and rap? That is yet to be seen.
14. Jimmie Allen
Born James Edward Allen, this singer/songwriter is best known for “Best Shot” and “Make Me Want To,” his two most popular singles. “Best Shot” received the award for the Breakthrough Video of The Year by CMT in 2019.
And finally, did you know that Tina Turner was once considered a black country artist?
15. Tina Turner
Before Tina Turner became a household name in the sixties and seventies, she was ordained the ‘Queen of Rock n’ Roll’ she was a country singer.
Her first album, “Tina Turns The Country On!”, the one without her now ex-husband Ike, was an album composed of country music covers, and it earned her a nomination in 1975 Grammy.