The country industry has long benefited from the white-washing of non-white sounds; this is nothing new. Ever since the fiddle of Scotch-Irish immigrants met with the banjo of African slaves in the south, country music has been in middle of discussions around race and class and who gets to make the music for decades. The conversations are still happening today, too, as artists like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line use R&B rhythms and rap their lyrics all the way to number one. It's tempting to point to these sonic experiments as the downfall of country music, but it's more likely that it could just be coming full circle. This is the genre for storytelling, after all, and there are only so many straight white male stories left to tell.
Whatever the future holds for country music, you can be damn sure it looks a lot like Priscilla Renea. Kicked out of her home in Flordia at 18, she moved to LA with the goal of becoming a star herself. She wrote Rihanna's "California King Bed" and Kesha's "Timber," which she says was meant to be more down-tempo and not the club-romp it turned into with Pitbull. After writing songs for ten years and proving herself good enough over and over again, she grew tired of the waiting game and took matters into her own hands.
Coloured is her first record since 2009's Jukebox, and packs a punch of soulful country and R&B. It deals with love, loss, and racism, begging listeners to stop living in the past and start embracing what the future is: Black women singing country music. Today we're premiering "Land of the Free," a heartbreaking song that examines what it is to be black in America. Listen below. Coloured is out June 22 via Thirty Tigers.