My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future (Hardcover)

My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future By Alice Randall Cover Image

My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future (Hardcover)


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Alice Randall, award-winning professor, songwriter, and author presents “a celebration of all things country music” (Ken Burns) as she reflects on her search for the first family of Black country music.

Country music had brought Alice Randall and her activist mother together and even gave Randall a singular distinction in American music history: she is the first Black woman to cowrite a number one country hit, Trisha Yearwood’s “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl)”. Randall found inspiration and comfort in the sounds and history of the first family of Black country music: DeFord Bailey, Lil Hardin, Ray Charles, Charley Pride, and Herb Jeffries who, together, made up a community of Black Americans rising through hard times to create simple beauty, true joy, and sometimes profound eccentricity.

What emerges in My Black Country is “a delightful, inspirational story of persistence, resistance, and sheer love” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) of this most American of music genres and the radical joy in realizing the power of Black influence on American culture. As country music goes through a fresh renaissance today, with a new wave of Black artists enjoying success, My Black Country is the perfect gift for longtime country fans and a vibrant introduction to a new generation of listeners who previously were not invited to give the genre a chance.
Alice Randall is a New York Times bestselling novelist, award-winning songwriter, and educator. She is widely recognized as one of the most significant voices in modern Black fiction and has emerged as an innovative food activist committed to reforms that support healthy bodies and healthy communities. She lives in Nashville where she writes country songs.

Product Details ISBN: 9781668018408
ISBN-10: 1668018403
Publisher: Atria/Black Privilege Publishing
Publication Date: April 9th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English
“A poetic textbook of a history that has been erased.”
—Rosanne Cash, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member, and New York Times bestselling author of Composed: A Memoir

“Alice Randall is the perfect trailblazer to shine this light. In her book My Black Country, she hits all the notes of a great country song. She makes you smile, makes you cry, makes you realize the difficulty and beauty of these very human stories. The profound influence Black artists have had on the genre is so eloquently described, beautifully encapsulated in her own trailblazing role as the first Black woman to co-write a number-one country hit.
She’s a treasure.”
—Brad Paisley, Grammy award-winning country artist

“Alice’s unique position in Nashville, her family background, her talent for word craft, and her insatiable thirst for the truth position her as a much-needed voice and perspective on this seminal and overlooked piece of American cultural history.”
—Rhiannon Giddens, Pulitzer Prize and Grammy award-winning musical artist

"I loved reading about Alice Randall’s path to Nashville, as only she can tell it. My own journey to Music City could not have been more different than hers, but what we share is a passion for the music, and a determination to see the dream through, no matter the obstacle.”  
Trisha Yearwood, Grammy, ACM, and CMA Award-winning artist and New York Times bestselling author

My Black Country pulsates with rhythms of suffering turned to melodies of enlightenment that is the closest thing we are likely to hear [to] John Lee Hooker and George Jones having a baby.”
—Michael Eric Dyson, Distinguished University Professor at Vanderbilt and New York Times bestselling author of The Black Presidency and Tears We Cannot Stop

“In a lesser writer’s hands, this book would reek of tracing or self-satisfied spectacle. In Alice Randall’s deft hands, we find a form unafraid of the joyful splinters in our national trauma and the saltiness of our region’s sweetest, most lasting creation.” 
—Kiese Laymon, 2022 MacArthur Fellow and author of Long Division, Heavy, and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

“Randall’s knowledge and respect for the performers and musicians who came before her permeates this lyrical memoir/music history hybrid. Country music fans will relish reading it.”
Library Journal

"Randall beautifully weaves together history and her personal story in a narrative informed by a deep love of country music, her commitment to undoing an ugly legacy of whitewashing, and her determination to change the face of Nashville to create space for herself and other Black artists.”
Booklist, Starred Review

“Alice Randall’s My Black Country is a celebration of all things country music—including the wonderful mixture of people and traditions that contributed to this most American of art forms. She has a songwriter’s gift for storytelling and an ear for the sounds that ricocheted around the country, from southern hamlets to northern cities.”
—Ken Burns, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker

"Essential… A delightful, inspirational story of persistence, resistance, and sheer love of music.”
Kirkus, Starred Review

"A landmark book and an essential starting point for conversations about the nature of country music. It is true that mainstream dialogue comes late in country’s history, but coupled with Cowboy CarterMy Black Country feels right on time."
Bookpage, Starred Review