Watch rising country, Americana artists perform for the Black Opry Residency
Yesterday on World Cafe, we heard from the five up-and-coming country and Americana artists who took part in WXPN's Black Opry Residency this year: Grace Givertz, The Kentucky Gentlemen (Brandon and Derek Campbell), Tylar Bryant, Samantha Rise and Denitia.
The cohort performed in front of a live audience in Philly during the weeklong program, which was created to help Black country, folk and Americana artists build sustainable careers and broaden their audiences.
A former MMA fighter, Tylar Bryant changed his career path to pursue a passion that caught him completely by surprise: He laid down his gloves to pick up a songwriter's pen and a guitar.
In a courageous leap of faith to chase his dream, he moved to Nashville in 2019. Tylar grew up listening to an array of music — from rap to the tunes that echoed in the background at his grand mom's home — and his music marries modern and traditional country sounds with rock and R&B grooves for an added twist.
Known for his charismatic stage presence and electric live performances, the Texas native prides himself in his authenticity and ability to infuse a mix of styles and sounds — and has been influenced by some of country music's greatest voices and performers, including Charlie Pride, Jim Reeves, Randy Travis and Chris Young.
Samantha Rise is a graduate of Temple University's jazz program and a dedicated student of Philadelphia's musical history. Samantha says their musical education is inextricably bound to legacies of radical Black feminist leadership and liberatory imagination.
Their songwriting is a trans-genre practice, drawing on a wide root system of traditional Black American music, from jazz, folk, country and avant-garde, and drawn up through their experiences between urban and high desert wilderness. Rise's debut musical release, Brighter Days, landed in four installments in 2019.
The Kentucky Gentlemen
In both music and life, Brandon and Derek Campbell have been nearly inseparable since birth. The 27-year-old twins from Versailles, Ky., got their first public singing experience in a church choir, but when they weren't learning gospel songs, they were foregoing their classical piano practice time to perform to keyboard beats with their older brother.
The Kentucky Gentlemen know sharing their more serious personal experiences is just as important as showcasing their fun side.
"We hope people see these two guys who just keep showing up as themselves," says Derek. "We understand the importance of where we're going and what that means to people like us. We want to be the same folks that we wish we had always gotten to see on the main stage."
Born and raised in Jupiter, Fla., Grace Givertz has been writing songs and performing since she was 11 years old. Grace turned her wit to grit when she released her independent record, Year of the Horse, in 2019.
Featuring guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica, Year of the Horse showcases Grace's ability to turn lemons into lemonade. She writes openly about living with chronic illness and how it has affected every aspect of her life, turning tragedy into a triumphant debut. Grace is recording her sophomore album, which will exclusively feature musicians and collaborators from BIPOC, LGBTQ and disabled communities.
Denitia is a singer-songwriter who exemplifies American cultural enlightenment. Born and raised outside Houston, Denitia's southern heritage forms a canvas for her evolving musical portrait. As a child, she performed in church choirs and taught herself to play piano and guitar from her family's trailer in the woods. She carried those experiences with her as she made her way around the country, moving to Nashville for college and Brooklyn thereafter.
Denitia's portfolio of work reveals melodic stories spanning states, cities and times. Fusing elements of country, folk and rock, Denitia establishes a newfound American utopia, ongoing and indefinite, uplifted by wistful vocals and the chimes of a tambourine. With her songs as mantras, Denitia aims to reimagine what it means to be home.
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