Essay on Black Artists in Country Music

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Charlie Pride did it in 1971. Darius Rucker did it in 2009. That’s it. Two black men, spanning thirty-eight years, are the only black artists to win a Country Music Association Award. With country music rooted in bluegrass and rhythm and blues, why aren’t there more black country music stars? When considering the roots of country music, and how closely related country is to blues, bluegrass and honky tonk music, an examination of what happened to all the black musicians seems warranted, no? This paper examines the dearth of black artists in country music and the careers of one of the few black artists who has had commercial success in this genre of music. As long as we’re examining race, how is the success of a white rapper such as…show more content…
Darius Rucker, a Charleston, S.C., native, describes his musical influences growing up in the south, “You could hear R&B, rock ’n’ roll and country on the same station, that was where it all started for me, being able to flip through the channels and never really hearing about what label something was” (Reverb). Charlie Pride jokingly referred to this as the “pigmentation situation” (The Root). Musicologists such as Richard Peterson and Paul Di Maggio have theorized that country music is the embodiment of southern white pride. They have added post war northern migration enabled regional country music to be exported to other areas of the United States, especially centers of industrial production: “The argument is that white southerners streamed to northern and West Coast war-plants, while those in the armed forces carried the music around the world, and nonsoutherners stationed in the South were exposed to commercial country music for the first time. Furthermore, the warborn affluence made it economically feasible to merchandise commercial country music nationally for the first time” (Peterson, Di Maggio, 500). Kelefa Sanneh wrote in his 2005 New York Times article, "Country Music? Whose Country” that, “Country music has a historical and mythical connection to rural Southern white culture, even though today’s performers and fans are often neither Southern
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