Country music is a music genre that has shaped the lives of many, its popularity spans across many continents and it has steadily developed into one of the major music genres worldwide. From the time it emerged in the early 1940s to this date, it has continued to blossom.
Country music was once predominantly white, but there are a lot of black country singers that have changed and shaped the realm of country music. Amongst the list of popular names are Dwight Quick, Aaron Neville and Charlie Pride. Their notable creative genius ranges from being singers, musicians and songwriters. Here are a few notable ones.
No list would be complete without the mention of Charlie Pride, a self-taught guitar player who started his career in the music business in his 20s. He was signed by RCA records and is the second highest selling performer, second to Elvis Presley. He is considered to be the first black country singer and he has gotten most of the major accolades in his field, including Grammy’s and 39 songs that have hit the number one spot in charts.
What’s notable about Pride is that in the 60s, many people who enjoyed his music didn’t even know that he was black. Not that it mattered when people found out. It’s a great story of how music is never dependent on anyone’s color or race, but rather the creativity and passion that resonate from it.
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He’s certainly different from your usual country musician, and his music isn’t strictly pure country. But he was different in a good way, his hybrid experimentation and fusing of other sub genres into his music sparked a wave of other country musicians doing the same thing.
He was infusing some rock, some hip and even a mix of everything in between. However, it was not just a phase, as his unique style remained to be something fans and listeners sought for. He paved the way for a lot of newer artists to enter the more mainstream genres and bring country music to a new light.
Rucker is said to be the next Charley Pride, and even though a few music executives tried to get him to sing to some R&B it turns out that Rucker was more suited to country. He was more comfortable with it too.
Just as Pride never saw color as a barrier or a standard to how music should be judged, it is pretty much the same thing with Darius Rucker. His first album was released in 2008 entitled “Learn to Live” which was immediately a hit, with three of the songs hitting the number one spot in country music charts.
His rendition of “Wagon Wheel” was also a commercial success. His songwriting and singing prowess has earned him a place as one of the greats of country music.
It might be a tad bit strange to have Tina Turner grace this list since do not usually equate her massive pop success to country music. However, many beg to differ, her cross into country music was one of the best things she ever did for her music and the genre, as it inspired many to follow her steps.
Her masterful and beautifully performed renditions of country music greats had audiences swooning for more. She differed from other country singers as her demeanor and her performances were deemed in a way different from the way traditional country music performers executed their songs. Her voice was bigger than the usual, and her vocal range added a lot to her country repertoire. She shaped the way you could deliver country music.
Originally a cardiologist, Francis is an artist from Lousiana that didn’t start out the way most artists dreamed of starting up. But, don’t be mistaken; this doctor has a voice that can make you swoon.
He tried with his first song “We’re All In this Together” back in the 80s, but it was not until 1992 that he got his break so to speak. He is now both a singer and a practicing cardiologist. He’s close to the hearts of a lot of people, not only as someone who’s licensed to fix a heart, but as someone with lyrics that can melt them.
This list is limited in terms of the success and mark that black country singers have made in the genre. Some have become some of the greatest artists in their craft and influenced a steady roster of generations that are just beginning to leave their market in the country music industry. It just goes on to show that in music, you are indeed color blind as race, color or stature does not and will never define raw creative musical talent.