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IST 605: Black Artists in American Country Music

Information on Black influence and artists in American country music


Country music is often regarded as a "white" music genre. This view ignores its roots in the blues and contributions over the genre's entire history from Black artists. In recent years, artists like Lil Nas X, Mickey Guyton, and now Beyonce, with the release of her country-inspired album "Cowboy Carter," has reignited conversations around race in country music. Not only have Black country musicians existed since the genre's inception, but Black artists well-known for their work in other genres have often made contributes to country music. This guide compiles works that explore race in country music, while highlighting just a few Black country music artists from the first days of the Grand Ole Opry to up-and-coming stars. 

To find information on more Black country musicians, please see the "Resources" box to the left.

Origins: The Blues

General Works

The following resources offer general overviews on race in country music.


 Born: 1899 Died: 1982 | Years active: 1920-1941

  Born: 1930  Died: 2004 | Years active: 1947-2004

Born: 1929  Died: 1997 |  Years active: 1970- 1992

 Won Grammy Award in 1975 for Bet Country Vocal Performance.

 Born: 1941 | Years active: 1962-2011; 2024

 Born: 1934  Died: 2020 | Years active: 1952-2020

 Born: 1939 Died: 2023 | Years active:1956-2009

 Born: 1970  |  Years active: 1999-present

Born: 1981 | Years active: 2007-present

 Born: 1966 | Years active:1986

 Born: 1977 | Years active: 2005-present

 Born: 1983 | Years active: 2011-present

 Born:1981 | Years active: 1990-present