DISCOVER: Top 5 Country Music Albums by Black Women

Country music has a rich and storied history, but it often overlooks the vital contributions of Black female artists. These trailblazers have brought fresh perspectives, soulful melodies, and powerful stories to the genre. Discover the top 5 country albums by Black female artists reshaping the genre’s boundaries and cultural norms.

1. Linda Martell: Color Me Country (1970)

Linda Martell’s Color Me Country is a pioneering achievement in country music. Released in 1970, Linda Martell’s “Color Me Country” made history as the first Black woman’s debut at the Grand Ole Opry. Featuring timeless tracks like “Color Him Father” and “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” the album showcases her remarkable talent. Despite industry challenges, Martell’s pure country style and vocal range shine on songs like “Bad Case of the Blues.” While her career faced barriers, the recent reissue celebrates her lasting impact on country music history.

 2. Tina Turner: Tina Turns the Country On! (1974)

Tina Turns the Country On! is a testament to Tina Turner’s versatility and resilience during a tumultuous period in her life. Released in 1974 amid her separation from Ike, this debut showcases Tina Turner’s exploration of country music.It features covers of songs by Kristofferson, Dylan, Newton-John, and Parton. Despite not charting, it earned Turner a Grammy nomination.

Tina Turner’s debut album boldly ventures into country music, highlighting original tracks like “Bayou Song” and covers such as “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” and “I’m Moving On.” Critics lauded her unique vocal style and dynamic range, earning praise from Billboard and Cash Box for her adept interpretation of country and folk tunes.

Though Tina Turns the Country On! did not lead to a sustained country career, it remains a fascinating glimpse into what might have been an alternate path for Turner. Her soulful renditions of country classics reveal the depth of her musical talent and hint at the potential impact she could have had on the genre. This album is now available on streaming services, allowing new generations to appreciate Turner’s brief but impactful foray into country music.

 3. Rissi Palmer: Rissi Palmer (2007)

Released in 2007, Rissi Palmer’s album marked a significant moment in music history. Blending country and R&B, it introduced her as a powerful voice in the genre. Notably, her single “Country Girl” made history as the first song by a Black artist to hit the country charts in 20 years. The song’s inclusive message, captured in the lyrics, “It’s a state of mind, not where you’re from,” resonated deeply with audiences, embodying a spirit of inclusivity and breaking barriers within the industry.

Raised in St. Louis, Palmer’s musical journey began early, influenced by both country and R&B, reflecting her diverse upbringing. Her talent competitions and appearance on CMT’s “Waiting in the Wings: African-Americans in Country Music” paved the way for her breakthrough. The “Country Girl” video gained substantial rotation on CMT and popularity online.

Though the album didn’t stay in print long, its impact paved the way for future Black country artists. Palmer’s career flourishes with releases like her acclaimed 2019 album, “Revival,” cementing her legacy in country music.

 4. Mickey Guyton: Remember Her Name (2021)

Mickey Guyton’s debut album, Remember Her Name, marks a powerful moment in country music history. Released in 2021, this Texas-born artist captures the complexities of being Black in America through smart, moving, and poignant songs. Guyton wrote “Black Like Me” during the demonstrations following George Floyd’s murder, with lyrics like “If you think we live in the land of the free, you should try to be Black like me,” highlighting the profound challenges she faces.

The album, released by Capitol Records Nashville, received widespread acclaim. AllMusic lauded her versatility and authenticity, while The New York Times hailed it as an insightful exploration of country music. Remember Her Name blends heartfelt ballads with uplifting tracks, showcasing Guyton’s commentary on social issues. Slate dubbed it a potent protest record, and Rolling Stone praised its reflection of pride, pain, wisdom, and joy.

Guyton’s career has been a journey of persistence. Following her signing with Capitol Records in 2011 and the release of the minor hit “Better Than You Left Me” in 2015, it took years of personal and professional growth for her to create this album. Songs like “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” and the title track, dedicated to Breonna Taylor, emerged from these deeply personal writing sessions.

Remember Her Name achieved significant chart success, peaking at #47 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #7 on the Top Heatseekers chart, marking her first full-length album to attain such heights. Despite challenges, Guyton’s debut stands as a testament to her resilience, making a ground-breaking statement in country music. Additionally, the album received Grammy nominations for Best Country Album, Best Country Solo Performance, and Best Country Song, further solidifying its impact and acclaim.

5. Brittney Spencer: My Stupid Life (2024)

Brittney Spencer’s debut album, “My Stupid Life,” is one of the year’s finest, showcasing her honest and free-spirited songwriting. A Baltimore native who sang backup for Carrie Underwood and opened for Jason Isbell, Spencer’s “Bigger Than the Song” lists her influences, celebrating Reba, Aretha, Johnny and June, Janet Jackson, Alanis Morissette, and Dolly Parton.

“My Stupid Life” features 13 tracks reflecting Spencer’s self-discovery journey in Nashville. Recorded at Sound Emporium and Blackbird Studio, the album is produced by Grammy-winner Daniel Tashian, with contributions from Marcus “MarcLo” Lomax and Romil Hemnani.

“This feels like a long time coming,” Spencer reflects. “It took me three years from the time I released my first EP Compassion to now release my first album. These songs serve as my introduction to country music, and I wanted to give them all the time and care that they (and my fans) deserve.”

Spencer describes the album as a reflection of her deepest thoughts and feelings, offering a sense of solidarity to listeners. “Through making this album, I’ve learned we’re not alone in our heads, and I hope this album hugs the tiny, loud parts of our overthinking brains that sometimes need it most.”

With tracks like “Bigger Than The Song” and “New To This Town,” Spencer blends diverse influences into a powerful debut. Her authenticity and flair make “My Stupid Life” a standout country album. Spencer’s dedication and journey in the music industry shine through every song, marking her as a rising star in country music.

Black female artists have undeniably enriched country music, bringing unique perspectives and voices that challenge and expand the genre. Their contributions deserve recognition and celebration, proving that country music thrives on its inclusivity and innovation.

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Written by: Kusha Singh