In 2016, Beyonce accepted an invitation to perform at the CMAs. Her album Lemonade had come out months earlier, and she had not performed her song “Daddy Lessons” at any kind of awards show before that. Beyonce arranged for the Dixie Chicks – who collaborated on the song on the album – to perform with her at the CMAs, in what was the Chicks’ first performance at a country-music awards show in more than a decade. I remember the reaction to it too – there were a lot of white country fans mad about the simple fact that BEYONCE was on the CMAs. There were many white people telling Beyonce that she wasn’t welcome in country music, and she should take the Chicks with her on her way out the door.
That moment has stuck with me. For the most part, country music people continue to behave as if their genre is simply all-white, and fans of their genre are all white too. Not Maren Morris. The CMAs were held last night in Nashville, and Maren’s “The Bones” picked up several awards. During one of her speeches, she made a special shout-out to the black women in country music who inspire her:
She said, in part:
“…There are some [people] in my mind that I want to give recognition to because I’m just a fan of their music, and they’re as country as it gets. I just want them all to know how much we love them back. Check out their music after this. It’s Linda Martell, Yola, Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer, Brittney Spencer, Rhiannon Giddens … there are so many amazing Black women that pioneered and continue to pioneer this genre, and I know they’re going to come after me, and they’ve come before me, but you make this genre so, so beautiful. I hope you know that we see you. Thank you for making me so inspired as a singer in this genre.”
It was a good thing to do. I’ve been surprised by the strides *some* country music personalities have made in recent years towards speaking up about race and social issues. Maren is one of the new generation of country stars, a hopefully woker generation full of mostly women talking about feminism and racial justice and Black Lives Matter. Maren has a song out now called “Better Than We Found It” which is described as pro-BLM and pro-Dreamer.
Photos courtesy of Getty.