My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music’s Black Past, Present, and Future

Atria/Black Privilege Publishing. Apr. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9781668018408. $28. MUSIC
Award-winning songwriter and fiction and cookbook author Randall (Black Bottom Saints: A Novel; Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family) highlights the contributions of Black country artists and musicians while reflecting on her own life. She developed her love of country music as a young child in 1960s Detroit. When she moved to Washington, DC, with her activist mother, she found a love for listening to music from artists that she later dubbed “the First Family of Black Country”: Lil Hardin, DeFord Bailey, Charley Pride, Ray Charles, and Herb Jeffries. Shortly after college, Randall set her sights on starting a music-publishing company in Nashville, where she was often the only Black person in the room at events. This memoir parallels Randall’s tenacious journey as a songwriter with the history of country music and the contributions of the First Family and other Black artists. Her life story begins as the main focus but takes a backseat to the vast biographies of others after her bittersweet success in the 1990s.
VERDICT 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.
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