Country music has a significant global fanbase, with statistics declaring it is the third most listened-to genre in the world. Many Black country singers have massively impacted the genre and made it what it is today. Who are the top 30 Black country singers to grace the genre?
The Deezer survey states that Black country music takes third place in the percentage of listeners, with 49.9%, coming after rock at 56.8% and pop at 56.1%. Country music has long been carried through many great names like Chapel Hart and Linda Martell, who were instrumental in making country music what it is today.
Are there any Black country singers?
There are various Black singers in the country genre. Over dozens of Black country music singers are prominent figures, but there are many more who did not make the mainstream yet are still very much active in the genre.
Who is the most popular Black country singer?
Although there are many great Black country music artists, Charley Pride is arguably the most recognisable figure in the genre. Charley was the second-best-selling artist at RCA Records, coming second only to the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ himself, Elvis Presley.
Who are the Black people who make country music?
These are 30 of the most iconic Black singers in the country music, from the pioneers to the more recent artists shaking up the genre, in no particular order:
30. Carolina Chocolate Drops
Carolina Chocolate Drops is a Black country group from Durham, North Carolina. They are considered an ‘old-time string band’ whose 2010 studio album won the Grammy Award for ‘Best Traditional Folk Album’ at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. It was also number nine in Roots magazine’s top 10 albums in 2010.
29. Kane Brown
Kane Brown is one of the more recent Black country singers on the scene, but he has already made a massive name. His soulful, husky voice and romantic lyrics have captured the hearts of many, and he already has eight number-one songs under his belt and counting.
28. Linda Martell
Linda Martell is arguably one of the most influential individuals on the list. Considered a pioneer in the genre, she was the first Black female solo artist to play the Grand Ole Opry. However, the looming cloud of racism ultimately saw her career end as swiftly as it developed, and she only released one album. Still, she is a stalwart of the genre and is still highly praised today.
27. Trini Triggs
American artist Trini Triggs rose to prominence after he released a self-titled album in 1998 for MCG/Curb Records and saw significant success in the years following. His debut album produced three singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles that year and gathered an impressive fanbase through his talent.
26. Miko Marks
Miko Marks broke into the country music scene with a bang, being honoured as the ‘Best New Country Artist’ at the 2006 New Music Weekly Awards. Since then, she has released many successful singles, with songs like Feel Like Going Home, Trouble, and One More Night becoming massive hits.
25. Aretha Franklin
A name that needs no introduction, Aretha Franklin is iconic in music. Her nickname as the ‘Queen of Soul’ indicates her massive impact on the genre. However, Aretha’s willingness to experiment in genres like country and folk music gained her an entirely new fanbase and a more comprehensive range of iconic songs.
24. Mickey Guyton
Born and bred in Texas, Candace Mycale ‘Mickey’ Guyton’s passion for all types of music ensured her future success in the game. Exposed to various genres of music growing up, Mickey used her exposure to include elements of contemporary country and R&B music into her country music, making her stand out from other names in the industry and an artist to watch.
23. Dom Flemons
American artist Dominique Flemons is more than just a Black country singer. He is a triple threat as a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He plays the guitar, banjo, harmonica, fife, percussion, quills and rhythm bones. Dom’s music is considered ‘old-time music’ and ‘Piedmont blues’, and he is a former member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
22. Aaron Neville
Aaron Neville is no stranger to the industry and has been making music for decades. Although prominently known as an R&B and soul singer, Aaron expanded his range and ventured into the country music genre around 1993 and 1994. The multi-platinum artist showed his talent is not limited to one genre, and his experimentation was well-received.
21. Rhiannon Giddens
Talented musician Rhiannon Giddens is an established artist who is a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, where she played an essential role as the lead singer, banjo player and fiddle player. The Greensboro, North Carolina native has since gone solo and enjoyed commercial success as a solo artist, also known for her eclectic folk music.
20. Cleve Francis
Cleve Francis is a stalwart in the country music industry, with a hugely successful musical career over decades. Cleve has nine albums under his belt and charted four times on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, most notably with You Do My Heart Good in 1992. The singer-songwriter was also a cardiologist, but the music was his number one love.
19. Brittney Spencer
American country singer-songwriter Brittney Spencer gained fame through social media, specifically, a video on Twitter that showed her covering a song by The Highwomen. Various other country artists saw the video and praised her, giving her the inspiration and confidence to release her first extended play, Compassion. Brittney was also mentioned as one of the individuals on PEOPLE Magazine’s ‘Hollywood One to Watch’ list.
18. Coffey Anderson
Hailing from Bangs, Texas, Coffey Anderson is a country music singer and internet personality, the latter being how he rose to prominence. Coffey made a name on YouTube by releasing Christian versions of mainstream music. He also participated in Nashville Star, creating a more prominent character.
17. Vicki Vann
Dubbed the ‘Cinderella of country music’, Victoria ‘Vicki’ Vann is a country music artist, actress, model, and businesswoman. Vicki has been in the industry for decades, developing an ever-growing fanbase. She is also a featured artist in the Country Music Television Network documentary called Waiting in the Wings.
16. Chapel Hart
Chapel Hart rose to stardom overnight through their viral America’s Got Talent performance in July 2022 and saw their fanbase quickly increase overnight. The all-female country trio received a Golden Buzzer through their Dolly Parton- inspired song You Can Have Him, Jolene, and earned the number one spot on iTunes. They were also contacted by Dolly and received an invitation to make their Grand Ole Opry debut.
15. Lesley Riddle
Lesley Riddle is another genre pioneer and greatly influenced the Carter Family country band. This band is regarded as an icon in country music. Unfortunately, Lesley was a skilled instrumentalist and singer but has yet to receive the recognition he deserved while alive. But Mike Seeger ensured Lesley was remembered and released Step By Step: Lesley Riddle Meets The Carter Family: Blues, Country & Sacred Songs in 1993.
14. Milton Patton
Milton Patton is another successful country musician from America’s Got Talent. The Arkansas native quickly showed talent and promise when he appeared on the show in 2013, and following his significant exposure from AGT, Milton was offered a $500,000 record deal from a major record label.
13. Dobie Gray
Dobie Gray is an easily-recognisable name in country music, especially for fans who listen to the classics. The American singer and songwriter’s career spanned the pop, soul, and country genres and musical theatre. Some of his biggest hits include Drift Away and The ‘In’ Crowd, and he sold well over one million copies of his music.
12. Jimmie Allen
American country music singer James Edward Allen gained fame mainly over the past few years and was signed to Broken Bow Records imprint Stoney Creek. In 2018, Jimmie released two singles, Best Shot and Make Me Want To, off his album Mercury Lane. His latest release, Be Alright, was released in 2023 to critical acclaim.
11. DeFord Bailey
Country music and blues star DeFord Bailey dominated the music scene from the 1920s until 1941 when the talented musician’s career ended abruptly. DeFord was in the prime of his career when WSM fired him in 1941, stemming from a licensing conflict between BMI and ASCAP. This meant his best-known songs were not played on the radio, and once he was fired from Opry, his once-soaring career came to a sad and sudden end.
10. Ray Charles
Ray Charles is a name that needs no introduction. The singer, songwriter and pianist is widely considered one of the most influential musicians in history and embraced the genres of blues, pop, jazz, R&B, and country music with equal enthusiasm. Ray’s country music career began in the 1960s and was well-received, like most of his music.
9. Darius Rucker
Darius Carlos Rucker first gained fame as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the rock band Hootie & the Blowfish, founded in 1986 by himself along with Mark Bryan, Jim ‘Soni’ Sonefeld, and Dean Felber. Once Darius announced the band would take a hiatus in 2008, he released his first country debut later in the same year, Learn to Live. The lead single, Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It, reached number one.
8. Rufus Payne
Rufus Payne, fondly also known by his nickname ‘Tee Tot’, is an early-20th-century musician from Greenville, Alabama. Despite being referred to as a blues artist, Rufus was also highly-influential in the country music genre and was the older mentor of country music icon Hank Williams.
7. Carl Ray
Carl Ray is a singer that may be lesser known on this list but has released music that has caught many country fans’ attention, primarily through his song I Stand With This Country. Released in 2020, the song promotes unity in the USA; his music has many religious themes.
6. Petrella Ann Bonner
American country music singer, songwriter, and music producer Petrella Ann Bonner is the self-proclaimed ‘first lady of country soul’ and has enjoyed a decades-long career. With eight studio albums and various songs released on the Top 100 Country Singles charts, Petrella is a prominent figure in the genre.
5. Henry Glover
Also known as Henry Bernard, the record executive, businessman, musician, and songwriter is predominantly known for his work as a talented producer Artist and Repertoire (A&R) man for King Records. Besides this, he made significant contributions to country music through his musical talent, including providing the opening riff of Blues Stay Away from Me.
4. Charley Pride
Charley Pride is considered by many as the most successful Black country musician in the genre. Among his most impressive achievements include being the first Black member of the Grand Ole Opry since DeFord Bailey decades before him, the first Black artist to have a number-one country record, and the first artist of any race to win the Country Music Association’s male vocalist award two years running. Charley had 29 number-one country hits, 52 Top 10s, and twelve gold albums.
3. The Pointer Sisters
The 1970s and 1980s saw the Oakland, California, girl group The Pointer Sisters break out into the mainstream market with a diverse range of genres they covered. Their music included touches of electronic music, jazz, R&B, pop, blues, bebop, funk, dance, soul, rock, and country, which made them stand out from other bands at the time.
2. Cowboy Troy
Black country singer Troy Lee Coleman III is better known by his stage name Cowboy Troy and was first introduced to fans through the multi-lingual breakdown in the middle of Rollin (The Ballad of Big & Rich), which is the opening song of Big & Rich’s 2004 release Horse of a Different Color. Since then, he has succeeded as a solo artist through songs like I Play Chicken With The Train and Hick Chick.
1. Lil Nas X
Black country rapper and singer Lil Nas X became a music sensation through his hit Old Town Road, featuring country music darling Billy Ray Cyrus. The song spent 19 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and he has had multiple hits over different genres reach number one since.
Black country singers remain a less included demographic in the country genre but have been instrumental in its rise to fame, with many Black county singers developing the genre into what we know it to be today.
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Source: Briefly News