Rissi Palmer"When you tell me I can't do something, it just makes me want to do it more," country singer Rissi Palmer told a classroom of children in Atlanta this week, explaining that people told her she couldn't sing country music because she's African-American. (Quote via CNN.) She certainly proved them wrong.

Rissi's very first single, 'Country Girl,' from her 2007 self-titled debut album, made her the first African-American female in two decades to hit the country charts. It was a sweet victory for the songbird, as she'd previously turned down a record deal because the label wanted her to abandon country for pop music.

Rissi, a Midwestern girl, grew up listening to classic country, as her parents were big fans of Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. She started performing in pageants as a teenager, singing songs by LeAnn Rimes and Shania Twain.

"I loved the way the country artists wrote songs," Rissi told the Atlanta students. "I always liked telling stories."

Rissi co-wrote nine of the twelve "stories" on her debut album. Her latest single is a countrified version of the Jordin Sparks-Chris Brown duet, 'No Air.' Listen to the song here.