RS Country looks at the genre’s racist history

RS Country has posted a really timely piece about country music’s relationship with race entitled Rewriting Country Music’s Racist History which interviews among others Yola and Rhiannon Giddens, the latter challenging what she calls a “manufactured image of country music being white and being poor”.

As the author of the piece describes it, “At some point, it became an accepted cultural narrative that country music is the domain of white people. This has never been the case, but more to the point, it has never been further from the truth than right now. The myth persists while a number of black artists are challenging its foundation, hiding in plain sight on the country charts or on tours or on the radio. They don’t care much for that myth. They tell a different story. And they tell it damn well.”

It’s an interesting story because, guess what, Yola and Giddens don’t share the same views on where the industry is up to, the latter telling RS: “More diverse audiences are coming, but it still feels like the space isn’t safe for us.” You can read the whole piece here, and let us know if you have any thoughts on this by commenting below.

About Mark Whitfield 2026 Articles
Editor of Americana UK website, the UK's leading home for americana news and reviews since 2001 (when life was simpler, at least for the first 253 days)
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Country music is the music of the southern USA and that is a truly shared culture with unimaginable history. All the country greats, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, Bill Monroe, and Hank Williams included African influences in their music as well as European. Even the songs that A P Carter appropriated for the Carter Family came from both sides of the racial divide. I’m of the opinion it was largely the emergence of national radio and the Opry that built the white narrative due to the pursuit of advertising revenue. While it may not be clear how things will develop at its heart good country music will remain a musical hybrid of both cultures.

Andrew Riggs

Check out on Netflix ‘Who Wrote The Lions Sleeps Tonight’ . A sobering tale.