After a century of racist erasure, country music is finally considering its relationship with black people. In this timely work – the first book on Black country music by a Black author – Francesca Royster highlights the Black artists and fans, including herself, who are discovering the joys and possibilities of the genre.
Inspired by queer theory and Black feminist scholarship, Royster’s book articulates the roots of the present moment found in records such as Tina Turner’s debut solo album, Tina excited the nation! She reckons with Black “Brothers” Charlie Pride and Darius Rucker, then chases ghosts into the future with Valerie June. In fact, it is the imagination of Royster and his cast that makes this musical so exciting for a genre that has long been associated with the past. The future created by June and others may be bleak, and not free of racism, but by centering black people Royster begins to understand that her daughter lives in the banjo music of Our Native Daughters and the banjo music of Lil Nas ” What do you hear in the trap beat of. Street.” A black person claiming to be country music can still feel somewhat like a queer person coming out, but, collectively, black artists and fans are changing what country music looks like. Is and how does it feel – and who likes it.