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10 queer Black country music artists to add to your playlist

In case you’ve been living under a rock these last few months, being queer and country is kind of having a moment. And a big part of that has to do with the release of Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter.

Although some of these artists have been around for a good while, the Beyoncé effect is real, and interest in Black country music is absolutely exploding.

So if you really want to feel like you’re living home on the range, here are 10 gay black country artists to add to your playlist…

Lil Nas X

Gay rapper Lil Nas X arguably kicked off the popularity of being queer and country with his Billy Ray Cyrus assisted mega hit, “Old Town” road, released in 2018. And though Nas X has since made a transition into being a pop-focused artist, there is no denying that he got everyone talking when he put on the pink cowboy hat and started talking about riding “’til I can’t no more.”

Tracy Chapman

Thanks to the eternal popularity of queer icon Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”—and country star Luke Comb’s cover—Chapman has had a recent resurgence as an artist, particularly in country music circles. The cherry on top being Chapman winning Country Song of the Year for the song, 35 years after its debut, and being the first Black songwriter to win the honor at the Country Music Awards.

Joy Oladokun

Speaking of Tracy Chapman, rising queer country star Joy Oladokun was reportedly 10 years old when she saw a music video of the “Fast Car” singer playing the guitar and was inspired to learn the instrument and sing. Now the Arizona-born Oladokun is a well-known performer in her own right, with a captivating smooth voice that has held audiences everywhere—from intimate venues to the White House.

Allison Russell

Queer Canadian country singer artist Allison Russell was in several music groups, including the Po’ Girl, Birds of Chicago, and Our Native Daughters, before she ventured out on her own and released her first solo album, Outside Child, in 2021. And her talents as a musician, singer and songwriter have been shining bright since. Her solo album was nominated for a Grammy, and the song “Nightflyer” from the album was nominated for two more Grammys. Could an appearance in Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter tour be next? Russell’s “Demons” would be an amazing song to see performed live with some of the music video’s creative flair.

Amythyst Kiah

Speaking of Our Native Daughters, queer singer Amythyst Kiah was also a member of the group alongside Russell before she also went solo, releasing two albums and one electrifying EP that shows off her expert guitar and banjo skills.

In 2020, Kiah became Grammy nominated for Best American Roots Song thanks to her song “Black Myself”, and it is a tour de force of a country music song. Kiah comes off as strong, rhythmic, and proud of her Southern roots.

The Kentucky Gentlemen

Twin brothers Brandon and Derek Campbell are The Kentucky Gentlemen: gay, Black and unapologetically country. Hailing from Nashville, the brothers are looking to break stereotypes and open minds when it comes to LGBTQ+ acceptance in country music.

“Our goal is honestly just in all realms of performing and writing is just staying true to our authentic selves, surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who also embrace authenticity,” Brandon said in an interview with WSMV4. He added, “That’s where a lot of our music comes from – just combining so much of what you love and knowing who you are.”

Their song “Whatever You’re Up For” is the perfect introduction to the group’s aesthetic and musical style.

Chastity Brown 

Chastity Brown is described as a folk, pop, soul and gospel artist, and she seems to blend a mix of all three in her song “Wake Up,” the first single from her album Silhouette of Sirens. Not much is out there about Brown’s backstory, so far, but something tells us she won’t be flying under the radar for much longer. Her talent shines on “Wake Up,” and we are excited to see where this Black LGBTQ+ country artist takes her sound next.

Vicki Randle

Lesbian singer and multi-instrumentalist Vicki Randle isn’t a new artist, but it’s never too late to discover the true genius that has been her career. She was the first permanent female member of “The Tonight Show Band” during Jay Leno’s era, and she has several impressive musical projects across many genres. She has recorded and toured with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, and more. Listen to Randle perform “Next Big Thing” life, and you’ll understand why she’s well-respected in country music circles.

Lilli Lewis

Just last year, NBC News named Lilli Lewis as one of the queer country music stars shaking up the genre. By embedding her deeply personal experiences into her songs, Lewis says she is hoping to help the world heal.

“As long as I can remember, I have felt kind of responsible for healing whatever ailment in the world I’m able to heal,” said Lewis, a Georgia native. And that healing theme is even carried over into the way she talks about her style of country music and queerness.

“The only way we’ve carved out any space for ourselves is to put it all on the table,” she said. “Queer stories have been sublimated in music for so long that it feels edgy and interesting to have them finally see the light of day.”

Get to know Lewis by starting with her Americana album, and you will can fully experience what Lewis calls her “fat, Black and left-handed” musical aesthetic.

D’orjay The Singing Shaman

D’orjay The Singing Shaman hails from a rural Canadian town, but her lyrics reveal that she understands the politics of being Black, queer and country. Her songs are about being her most authentic self and healing, with vulnerability that she imbues in her music.

Her New Kind of Outlaw album is filled with declarations that subtlety announce that she is Black, queer, and here to stay. 

“I love country music / will country music love me?” she sings, and it’s a tender moment that it seems all Black, queer ,and country artists and their fans can relate to.

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