How Black Artists Have Been Changing the Game in Country Music | Billboard News

Did you know the impact that Black artists have had in creating country music? Black artists have played a crucial role in shaping country music, from the early 1920s to the present day, with artists such as Lil Nas X and Beyoncé amplifying the genre even further.

Tetris Kelly:
It doesn’t get more black than country music. Black artists have been changing the game in the genre for quite some time — even before Beyoncé decided to put the history in the forefront. For Black Music Month, we’re taking a look at country music’s roots.

The genre became popular in the 1920s, and for its entirety, Black folks have been writing, performing and recording country — the sound simply wouldn’t exist without the innovation of Black artists. Research shows that The Carter Family, known as the first family of country music, was influenced in the 1920s by Black Blues and Gospel guitar player Lesley Riddle. Even Johnny Cash learned from Black musician Gus Cannon, right as Nashville became the country music capital. Black harmonica player DeFord Bailey was the historic first performer on the Grand Ole Opry.

And now, Black faces are a dominant force in country. Lil Nas X and Beyonce have recently brought that attention mainstream with Beyoncé’s album Cowboy Carter exploring all sounds of Black country music, even using the language the Rodeo Chitlin’ Circuit, a network of venues where Black musicians could perform safely between the 1930s and 1960s.

Watch the video above to learn more.

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