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You've heard Beyoncé’s new songs. Here's who to listen to next.

(From left) Valerie June, Yola, Mickey Guyton and Brittney Spencer.
Courtesy of the artists; Facebook
(From left) Valerie June, Yola, Mickey Guyton and Brittney Spencer.

This week, Beyoncé etched her name in music history, becoming the first Black female artist to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Her concurrent release, “16 Carriages,” also made a notable splash, debuting at No. 9 on the same chart.

That may be getting the headlines today, but it’s important to note it’s merely the most recent — albeit notable — chapter in a long-standing narrative.

It’s a story that includes pioneering Black women like Elizabeth Cotten and Etta Baker, whose seminal contributions to country music’s sound and technique were often overlooked due to the prevailing racial and gender biases of their times. It runs right through to modern artists like Valerie June and Mickey Guyton, who have dedicated their careers to actively reshaping the genre’s boundaries and challenging its conventional norms.

You can find an in-depth exploration of that narrative on the HYFIN website, but for now here are 11 Black female artists embroidering new patterns into the fabric of country music.


Valerie June

Hailing from the heart of Memphis, June fuses the essences of folk, blues, gospel, soul, country, Appalachian, and bluegrass into a distinctive blend that has drawn acclaim across the music sphere. This Grammy-nominated artisan weaves a rich tapestry of “organic moonshine roots music,” captivating listeners from The Tonight Show to Austin City Limits with her multifaceted creativity.


Yola

British-born Yola transcends boundaries, encapsulating the spirit of modern roots music. Her four-time Grammy-nominated sound is a testament to the transformative power of music, entwining country’s twang with soul’s depth and Americana’s broad strokes.


Mickey Guyton

Guyton has carved her place in history as the first Black woman nominated for a Grammy in the Best Country Solo Performance category. Her voice is not only a floodlight on the stage, but also a beacon for inclusivity and transformation within the country-music community.


Brittney Spencer

Recognized as part of CMT’s Next Women in Country Class of 2021, Spencer’s storytelling prowess and enchanting melodies are brushing new colors onto the canvas of country music, earning her a hallowed spot among its vibrant narrative threads.


Rissi Palmer

Echoing the triumphs of her predecessors, Palmer stands as the first Black woman in two decades to notch a position on the country charts. Beyond her vocal artistry is her commitment to lifting the voices of BIPOC artists — her Color Me Country radio show is a testament to that mission.


Chapel Hart

With a zest for life and tales that resonate, Hart conjures music that speaks to the soul. The trio’s enigmatic presence and “You Can Have Him Jolene” anthem resonate within the halls of country music, marked by their inclusion in CMT’s Next Women in Country Class of 2021.


Miko Marks

A stalwart voice within the genre, Miko Marks’ two-decade tenure and lauded return with the album Our Country herald her as a pivotal figure whose artistry and advocacy are vital threads in the country music story, raising awareness for Black women artists within the sphere.


Reyna Roberts

With vocals that soar and an unbridled stage presence, Roberts is paving her path in the constellation of country luminaries. Like Chapel Hart and Brittney Spencer, she was among CMT's Next Women in Country Class of 2021, and she's also a dedicated advocate for the Black artists in country music who came before her.


Tiera Kennedy

A beacon among the Next Women of Country Class of 2020, Kennedy harnesses the power of her songwriting and melodious gift to etch her presence in the annals of country music, signifying a bright future for the genre’s evolution.


Ashlie Amber

Amber commands attention with her distinctive timbre and has received nods from industry giants such as CMA and CMT. Poised to launch her inaugural album with a leading label, she’s on the cusp of etching her mark on a grander scale following her appearance on the Apple TV+ series My Kind of Country.


Julie Williams

A fresh face on the roster, Williams — with her melding of country, pop and soul — earned a place within the Next Women of Country Class of 2023. Her versatility sings of the expansive scope of country music’s ever-evolving landscape.


Written by Tarik Moody, with assistance from ChatGPT.

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee