A New Generation Pushes Nashville to Address Racism in Its Ranks
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A New Generation Pushes Nashville to Address Racism in Its Ranks

A video of country star Morgan Wallen was posted by TMZ less than 30 minutes later. On February 2, Mickey Guyton was the only black female singer to sign a major label, Tweeted Her response: “Hatred runs deep.”

He said, “How many passes will you continue to give?” And “So what exactly are you going to do about it? Cricketers won’t work at this time.”

Some other mainstream country actors have commented on the social media about the incident, but many have asked Nashville to do the same, as in one of its stars on fire: switch off the wagons and Stop it. “It is standard for country artists to remain silent and not use their platform for controversy,” said Leslie Fram, CMT is the Senior Vice President of Music Strategy.

The next day though, radio groups including iHeartMedia, Cumulus and Entercom Wallen’s songs pulled from rotation On hundreds of stations, and major streaming services removed them from playlists. CMT stopped playing its videos. The Country Music Academy disqualified him for its upcoming awards. It all topped the Billboard 200 chart during Wallen’s second album, “Dangerous: The Double Album” Third straight week.

While Gaiten’s tweets alone were not responsible for the rapid ripping, she is one of a small contingent of mostly female artists – among them Cam, Marn Morris, Margo Price and Amanda Shires – and industry players whose advocacy led to country music. Has pushed the business. Start facing issues of racism and diversity that go beyond the misdeeds of an artist.

“I was really encouraged by how fast every group in the industry showed,” said Cam, a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter. “But I don’t think it takes so much laxity to call someone in aha moments to be a changemaker.”

The work of these women is not easy. Much of it is about deliberately turning public conversations toward uncomfortable questions about racial equity in Nashville. This may mean that Laila f. One can use social media to trumpet a book like Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” or the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum for flirting with Black Artists. Named a lady. For the second time, it is participating in the Diversity and Inclusion Task Forces. In November, when Morris was named female singer of the year Country Music Association Award, She used her acceptance speech to highlight the struggles of black women in country music, including singing, Risi Palmer. Yola And Brittany Spencer.

It has often been a group of women who speak the loudest is probably very surprising. Female artists themselves faced enormous obstacles in the industry, over objections to unwritten rules limiting sexual harassment and airplay for women.

“In the female experience, you understand what it means to be a dalit, get into a situation that is mostly white-man-driven and try to vocalize yourself,” said Palmer, an Apple Music Radio called Color Me Country Hosts the show. The style evokes Black, indigenous and Latino roots.

Shires, a singer-songwriter who also stars alongside Morris Your excellency, Say it bluntly: “I think a lot of men are not speaking out because they are comfortable in their places of power and wealth. Why would they want to change it?”

The story of the dominance of male artists in native music has been going on for a long time. Between 2014 and 2018, according to a study by the Ennberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, 84 percent of artists on Billboard’s year-end country chart were male.

The relative silence of many of the country’s big stars, male and female, is partly habitual but also partly economics. Whether or not the stars and gatekeepers are indifferent to racism, they fear fans.

“If they are worried that they are going to collapse financially, they keep their mouth shut,” Price said. “They want to keep that rebellious dollar.”

But giving credit to most of these white women for being the social conscience of the country is a sign of a big problem. “Speaking white women is a result of not letting black women speak,” Cam said. With few exceptions in Nashville, she said, “Black people are not even allowed in the door, can’t be in the writing room, can’t sign, don’t have a following on Twitter, so you never hear them.”

Part of this work is raising the voices of those marginalized. Shires and Morris have worked with both Spencer and Yola. Morris, Cam and Gighton are part of a group lesson with Palmer and Andrea Williams, a Black Journalist and author based in Nashville, where they share reading tips, relay personal experiences and strategize.

“How does it happen that two white women also partially understand what the experience is like for black people in the country?” Asked Cam. “It’s because we’re learning from black women. We saw what’s happening with Mickey and talked to him.” Cam said as he and Morris use their platforms to share what they want more What are widely learned.

Williams, a lively Twitter presence, Ideologically like-minded – Morris, and Shires’ husband, doesn’t move Jason isbell – When he feels they are reduced to bids to be good allies. “I said people wouldn’t say anything more than say the wrong thing,” she said. “Sometimes, you need to listen and learn.” He said that two of the first artists to respond to the Wallen incident, Kelsa Ballerini and Cassade Pope, posted that their behavior “does not represent country music”.

“It’s more tragic than the people who didn’t say anything because you are downplaying the very real experiences of people who know for a fact that this is actually a sign of the way this whole industry works.” ,” He said.

According to Williams, focusing on the “original sin” of gender obscure native music: “The country was created with the sole intention of marketing to a particular racial demographic. We split Southern music into white hill records and black race records This dividing line is as wide as in the 1920s.

This currently signals the protests of last summer’s nationwide Black Lives Matter. Just a few days after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police, Gighton released a shocking personal “Black Like Me” And only the main male artists of the nation’s color – Darius Rucker, Ken Brown and Jimmy Allen – spoke candidly about their own experiences, while the rest of the nation’s music industry grew up to fulfill the moment. Struggled. Other artists and executives were quick to share the supporting hashtag, but in a style where mainstream black artists can be counted on one side and black faces are rarely common behind any scene, their efforts were infrequent.

Nashville campaigner and journalist, Laurie Lebig, began compiling a black dot tracking that artists in the country have posted – or not posted in support of Black Lives Matter. Shire was among the first to share the spreadsheet widely, but as it aired, often the target of harsh responses was Liebig himself.

“There was a day when it first hit, my Twitter was just cascading with negative reactions,” she said. “Many people were saying that I was racist towards white people. I have finished. He posted my parents address. “

Many of these women have suffered similar bile. “I’ve been called pretty much every name in the book,” Price said. He said, “People have sent me threatening DM.” I’m sure this is the cost of my album and ticket sales. “

After leading the black country Death of charlie pride In December, Palmer criticized her legacy for breaching breasts. “For three days, I was threatened, called a racist, a fundamentalist, not one,” she said. “I’ve been called a Nazi propagandist, which was my favorite.”

But with increasing pressure from these women, the conversation has started to shift. However, it remains to be seen whether Valen has faced the hunger for change in the results – He returns to No. 1 for the fourth week After this incident, and the era was not condemned by Nashville, where defenders and sympathetic voices spoke on their behalf – there are signs that the land is shaking. Four of the 10 acts selected for CMT’s “Next Lady of the Country” this year are black. National Museum of African American Music Recently opened in the city of Nashville – the iconic home of country music, across the street from Raman Auditorium.

“We are far from seeing extensive changes, but every time the light bulb goes off for someone else,” Williams said, “we are close. “Because we all come together, and we’re doing all the lessons back and forth at midnight in these group chats, we’re more powerful than any of the individuals. We need more people to join the fight . “




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