New Documentary Spotlights Black Artists Staking Their Rightful Claim in Country Music
Amazon Music is set to release a new documentary that highlights country music's Black roots, and examines how a new generation of artists are breaking down old barriers in the genre.
The feature-length film, For Love & Country, will be available to watch exclusively on Amazon Prime and the Amazon Music app beginning April 7. Directed by Joshua Kissi, the project "examines country music through the personal stories of a new generation of Black artists claiming space in Nashville—and helping to transform the genre in the process."
"What I’ve come to realize is country music as a genre is just as complex as this country itself,” Kissi said in a statement. “Now is the moment to stand up for the voices that have always mattered throughout time, especially the musicians who didn’t get the credit when it was due.”
The film includes appearances and performances from Jimmie Allen, Blanco Brown, Breland, Shy Carter, Mickey Guyton, Willie Jones, Valerie June, Amythyst Kiah, Reyna Roberts, Allison Russell, Brittney Spencer and Frankie Staton. For Love & Country also features commentary from Nashville residents, including journalist Andrea Williams, Davidson County criminal court clerk and former vice mayor Howard Gentry, academic and author Amanda Marie Martínez and rapper Mike Floss.
The project will give viewers insight into each artists' own unique story and relationship to country music. In 2020, as protests occurred across the world following the murder of George Floyd, efforts towards racial equality and inclusion across the country music industry increased. For decades, Black artists have been underrepresented in all facets of the genre. A recent study from SongData's Dr. Jada Watson found that from 2000 to 2020, only 3.2 percent of the artists signed to Music City's major labels were artists of color, and only 0.9 percent were women.
“I’ve always believed in the old saying, ‘if you can see it, you can be it,’” Guyton said. “However, it’s no secret there has been a lack of representation of Black artists in mainstream country music for years. That’s why I hope little Black girls growing up now can see us, artists like Brittney, Reyna, Amythyst, Allison, Valerie, Frankie and me, and know they have a place here in country music. We all do.”
For Love & Country will highlight the experiences, challenges and triumphs of country music's newest generation of talented Black artists while giving a much-deserved nod to the trailblazers who came before them. In a statement, Brittney Spencer shared her hopes that the film will help to explain and expand the efforts for racial equality across the genre.
"This film is our collective story, in our own words,” Spencer explained. “We’re all carving our own unique paths. We’ve all got our own dreams and challenges, and our own ways of navigating them. I hope when people see this film, they better understand the conversation of race in country music. I hope it humanizes the discussed issues and puts a crowd of Black, beautiful faces to a topic the public has heavily engaged & debated, particularly over the last two years. I’m happy to be a part and share my story."
You can watch the full trailer for For Love & Country below:
A Brief History of Black Country Music, From Tee Tot to Breland: