Black Country Music
Listening for Revolutions
American Music Series
Published by: University of Texas Press
248 pages, 140.00 x 216.00 mm
- ISBN: 9781477326497
- Published: October 2022
After a century of racist whitewashing, country music is finally reckoning with its relationship to Black people. In this timely work—the first book on Black country music by a Black writer—Francesca Royster uncovers the Black performers and fans, including herself, who are exploring the pleasures and possibilities of the genre.
Informed by queer theory and Black feminist scholarship, Royster’s book elucidates the roots of the current moment found in records like Tina Turner’s first solo album, Tina Turns the Country On! She reckons with Black “bros” Charley Pride and Darius Rucker, then chases ghosts into the future with Valerie June. Indeed, it is the imagination of Royster and her artists that make this music so exciting for a genre that has long been obsessed with the past. The futures conjured by June and others can be melancholy, and are not free of racism, but by centering Black folk Royster begins to understand what her daughter hears in the banjo music of Our Native Daughters and the trap beat of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” A Black person claiming country music may still feel a bit like a queer person coming out, but, collectively, Black artists and fans are changing what country music looks and sounds like—and who gets to love it.
- Introduction. Where My People At?
- Chapter 1. Uneasy Listening: Tuning into Tina Turner’s Queer Frequencies in Tina Turns the Country On! and Other Albums
- Chapter 2. “Love You, My Brother”: Darius Rucker’s Bro-Intimacy and Acts of Sonic Freedom
- Chapter 3. How to Be an Outlaw: Beyoncé’s Daddy’s Lessons
- Chapter 4. Valerie June, Ghost Catcher
- Chapter 5. Can the Black Banjo Speak? Notes on Songs of Our Native Daughters
- Chapter 6. Thirteen Ways of Looking at Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road
- Conclusion. Black Country Afrofuturisms: Mickey Guyton, Rissi Palmer, and DeLila Black