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Forum From the Archives: From Beyoncé to Lil Hardin, 'My Black Country' Celebrates the Undersung Black History and Future of Country Music

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Alice Randall's new book is "My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future" (Keren Treviño)

Beyoncé’s new album, “Cowboy Carter,” pays tribute to country music’s greats while reflecting on her own connection to the genre. As she sings on the opening track, “Used to say I spoke ‘too country’ / And the rejection came, said I wasn’t country ‘nough.” That rejection reflects the gatekeeping that’s long plagued country music – gatekeeping that determines who gets to be American and whose ‘country’ it is, says Alice Randall, a songwriter, author and Vanderbilt professor. Randall was the first Black woman to write a No. 1 country hit, and her new book “My Black Country” weaves memoir with the history and impact of Black artists in the genre. We’ll learn that history and Randall’s place in it — and listen to country music from DeFord Bailey, Linda Martell and, of course, Beyoncé.


Alice Randall, Country songwriter and professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and writer-in-residence, Vanderbilt University - author, “My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music’s Black Past, Present, and Future.”


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