Amazon Doc spotlights Black Country artists – Billboard
“Country music is my life, that’s all,” says singer-songwriter Reyna Roberts in trailer for upcoming Amazon Music documentary For love and country, which will premiere on April 7. “People ask me why did I choose country music? Country music chose me.
The upcoming documentary highlights the past and present contributions of black artists to country music and focuses on the personal stories of today’s newcomers who are making changes to the genre.
“I’ve always believed in the old saying, ‘If you can see it, you can be it,'” says singer-songwriter Mickey Guyton, who recently performed the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl. and which is featured in the film. “However, it’s no secret that there has been a lack of representation of black artists in mainstream country music for years. That’s why I hope little black girls growing up now can see us, artists like Brittney, Reyna, Amythyst, Allison, Valerie, Frankie and me, and know they have a place here in country music. We all do.”
Guyton, who is signed to Universal Music Group Nashville, is also a three-time Grammy nominee, for her album remember his name and its title track. The album also features “Black Like Me,” an intensely personal look at Guyton’s own experiences with racism, a song she released after the 2020 police killing of George Floyd.
The film highlights many black artists, like Guyton and Roberts, who are forging their own musical paths in the country and American genres. Jimmie Allen recently got his third Billboard Country Airplay hit No. 1 with Brad Paisley’s collaboration “Freedom Was a Highway”, won New Artist of the Year at last year’s CMA Awards and is currently nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards. . In 2019, Blanco Brown released the viral hit “The Git Up”, which was later certified 3x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA. Brown followed it up with the No. 1 Country Airplay collaboration “Just The Way” with the band Parmalee.
Breland, who was recently named Amazon Music Breakthrough Artist, achieved Platinum-certified success with “My Truck,” and followed a series of collaborations with Keith Urban (“Out The Cage”), Nelly and Blanco Brown (” High Horse”), Dierks Bentley and HARDY (Country Airplay’s top 5 hit “Beers on Me”), and his latest, “Praise the Lord” with Thomas Rhett. Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Shy Carter is known for writing songs such as Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue” and Kane Brown’s “Heaven”, as well as releasing his own music Brittney Spencer released the EP sterling Compassion and has been featured as a performer on programs such as the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association Awards. She also embarked on her first headlining tour this year and opened shows for Reba McEntire. Following Floyd’s death in 2020, Sony Music Nashville artist Willie Jones released “American Dream,” a lucid look at what it means to be black in America.
The documentary also highlights the careers of Valerie June, Amythyst Kiah and Allison Russell. Kiah and Russell collaborated (alongside Rhiannon Giddens and Leyla McCalla) on the album Songs from our native girls, before each releasing their own Grammy-nominated solo music. June has released albums including those of 2017 The order of time and his album 2021 The Moon and the Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers. In 2013, June was also a featured vocalist during Eric Church’s performance of “Like Jesus Does” at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
The film also pays tribute to pioneer and singer-songwriter Frankie Staton, who co-founded the Black Country Music Association in the mid-1990s. The group helped foster a community of aspiring country music artists of color in Nashville.
“This film is our collective story, in our own words,” Spencer said in a statement. “We all chart our own unique paths. We all have our own dreams and challenges, and our own ways of overcoming them. I hope when people see this film they will better understand the conversation about race in country music. I hope this humanizes the issues being discussed and puts a host of beautiful black faces on a topic that audiences have heavily engaged and debated, especially over the past two years. I am happy to be part of it and to share my story.
Others featured in the documentary include rapper Mike Floss, Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk and former Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, academic/author Amanda Marie Martinez, and journalist/author Andrea Williams.
“What I realized is that country music as a genre is just as complex as this country itself,” project director Joshua Kissi said in a statement. “Now is the time to stand up for the voices that have always mattered through time, especially the musicians who didn’t get credit when it was due.”
“In telling this story, it was imperative for us to amplify the personal stories of these wonderfully diverse country artists, for within them lie the stories of black contributions to the genre,” said Raymond Roker, global editorial manager of Amazon Music. “They are also very universal stories of acceptance, of being welcomed into spaces that we choose to occupy despite how the door is opened to us, and how stories and history can become marginalized over time. The film’s title is also a reminder that these artists all come from a place of love, adoration and even reverence for country music’s past, its heroes and contributors across the spectrum.
In addition to releasing the trailer, Amazon Music released an Amazon Original acoustic version of Kiah’s “Black Myself,” with additional Amazon Original songs from artists featured in the film to be rolled out over the coming weeks.
For love and country was produced by DPM Projects and Pizza Night. The documentary is just the latest country music-focused lineup from Amazon Music. On March 7, Amazon Prime Video broadcast the Academy of Country Music Awards live, making history as the first major music awards show to be exclusively livestreamed. The awards ceremony was hosted by Dolly Parton, Allen and Gabby Barrett.