One thing that will immediately make me cool on someone: When we’re talking about music and they say they listen to everything but country. They almost never have any sort of reason they can actually support. It’s just…the thing you say when you have a small minded view of an incredibly varied and popular genre of music.
If you do not know country music — that’s totally fine. I don’t really know jazz — but I enjoy it casually and I’m down for the ride with an experienced listener. But to just fullstop assert “Oh I don’t like country music.” What does that even mean?
You don’t like the song structure?
The only difference between a country ballad and an R&B ballad is some instrumentation and phrasing.
You don’t like the topics because it’s tractors and she shot my dog and drinking beer?
Well…that says more about your stereotypes about Southerners than it does about country music.
You don’t support racists and Republicans?
Well you don’t have to! Pop, hip-hop, and R&B is full of misogyny, yet you either ignore it or decide not to listen to those artists who you know to be terrible. You enjoy people’s art until you have a reason not to.
Plus! Quiet as its kept, as far as popular musicians making money, country is more consistently putting out good singers (who will sell out a concert) than any other genre. They don’t whisper and mumble and autotune. You get what you get. They can stand on a stage with just a guitar and give a show.
Country has roots in Black America just as much as any other genre. You could throw Rosetta Tharpe in the middle of any country artist’s set and it wouldn’t sound out of place.
Today we have Millennials like Kane Brown, Maren Morris, and Chris Lane who came of age during the R&B/hip-hop takeover of the 90s and you can hear that influence in the covers they choose…
…and the ballads they write.
Still, it’s hard for Black artists in country music. It’s easier for a white rapper like Eminem to find major success in rap music partly because white people buy rap albums. If every Black person in America ignored Eminem because they thought rap should belong to us, he still would’ve been a success through record sales to white people. Black country artists don’t have their skinfolk to fall back on, but we are going to support Brittney Spencer, do you hear me?!
I have already decided that we must, so tell your friends.
Brittney has three strikes against her: she’s Black, she’s not a size 2, and she’s from Baltimore. Taylor Swift is from Pennsylvania, so clearly the first two strikes are the bigger hurdle. When I was tweeting about country music I’m into currently, someone dropped her name into my mentions, and I was hooked from the first listen.
Brittney gives me so much of what I enjoy from a singer-songwriter. Authenticity, simplicity, and clarity. It’s just her and a guitar singing lyrics she wrote. So, I investigated further. She only has a handful of songs (no record deal, no album out) but if “Sober & Skinny” is any indication, this should be her breakout year. Listen to these lyrics and rejoice with me real quick.
She said “you want me to shrink, I think we should go to one” and I hollered. That is a country storyteller right there I don’t care where she came from.
Anyway, I haven’t been all that excited by a new artist in awhile. I enjoy them, but I am very much getting old and find myself looking around at some of the hype after hearing a new album like” this is what all the fuss was about?” But I am fully stanning Brittney Spencer and I wanted to share the good word.
Stan Black women in country music, period.
The ANOINTED(!!!!) Britney Jean Spears
Let us rise for an extra-special performance from the Queen of Music.
Y’all. Britney Spears is free and we are still thankful!!!! Let the church say Amen.
And let Britney Spears herself sing those praises to our Lord & Savior Jesus Herbert Christ.
Whitney Houston biopic when?!
Tasha Cobbs Leonard is shaking you guys. Yolanda Adams has quit gospel because she cannot compete! Britney has been dabbed with the oil! How else can you explain a third Mary so seamlessly and flawlessly blending in with the definitive pop-gospel crossover of our generation.
britney spears meets mary mary actually slaps so hard. 😩 pic.twitter.com/7oRnUWys9p— amorphous (@loneamorphous) December 22, 2021
Don’t you just wanna praise Him?! Hallujah! Ishouldaboughtahonda! Just in time for Jesus’s birthday too. A moment from a true vocalist is exactly what I needed on today.
The ANOINTED Britney Jean Pace.
The SANCTIFIED Britney Clark Sheard.
The MOST HOLY Britney Spears-Winans.
(PS. Listen to Femme Fatale for good credit, improved muscle tone, a balanced diet, and a secondary ketamine high this season.)
Christmas Music Playlists!
I’m here to get you right this season!
Some of y’all (the ones with taste and home training) turn on the Christmas Music during Thanksgiving, because honestly, Thanksgiving is a bum holiday that don’t even have cute sweaters or any songs that slap. It’s just greens and football and colonialism.
I have not yet updated my Christmas Playlists for this year, but you can go ahead and save them and I’ll update as I listen to the new holiday releases. You should have already saved these last year but I’m feeling peaceful and generous, so I will share them again.
A Diva’s Christmas
This is for the folks who need a voice to carry the Christmas spirit. Real singers only.
As an avowed atheist, if you want me to care about some lady’s side-baby doused in frankincense, give me the message from somebody who knows what they’re doing behind the mic.
This is for the grown & sexy Christmas with warm mulled wine and a blanket.
It’s only about an hour and a half currently, so I need to really dig in Santa’s bag and come up with some more mood moments. Might put that on my todo list this weekend.
Ultimate Christmas Party
This is for the holiday function or the office cocktail party. Bops only!
I love all genres of music, so we’re covering the gamut from gospel to rock, country to R&B. What I don’t always love is a Christmas party where everybody is drinking and having a good time and the mood DIES because yet another maudlin version of “Silent Night” comes on. No ballads for my party, please.
Ultimate Christmas Party (Deluxe)
This is for the holiday party that needs some secular variety.
It’s the same playlist as Ultimate Christmas Party, but for every holiday song, there’s also a non-holiday hit by the same artist. I actually put this playlist on all year.
This is my catchall Christmas playlist.
The holiday songs from all my other playlists plus other songs and instrumentals that haven’t found a theme to fit into.
So! Let me know what has come out recently that I should be listening to. I’m about to put on JoJo’s Christmas album and see what my good lightskinned cousin is bringing to the table.
I had a band director like Adele’s English teacher.
Thank a teacher today!
How can you not love Adele?
I was talking to one of my Musical Soulmates over the weekend, because when something new comes out that we both do/should/would like, we discuss it a little. I felt like Adele was likely not on his radar because she’s not really on mine, but 30 pulled me in, so I wanted to spread the good word. I am very close to becoming an Adele Fan after this album, but I’ve always liked her public persona.
Adele’s concert special just dropped and I would like to ask y’all again: How can you not love Adele? She seems to be such a genuine, decent, lovely person, and it is a known fact that people who loved their middle school English teachers are better than the rest of us. Watch this clip where she talks about a teacher she only had for a year but who impacted the rest of her life.
We all have that one teacher who changed our life… such a beautiful reunion! ❤️— ITV (@ITV) November 21, 2021
*PS, would totally buy Alan Carr’s version of ‘Make You Feel My Love* 🤣@Adele #AnAudienceWithAdele https://t.co/2ZZI2RS0mI pic.twitter.com/hlTOOZKt5j
That teacher who excited you or makes you feel special does stay with you forever. If my middle school band director hadn’t let me “noodle in the stands” I wouldn’t be living in New York City right now.
Noodling is when you’re playing around on your instrument while you’re not supposed to be, and doing that at a football game in the stands when the band isn’t playing is a big no-no. I had been messing around on the piano at home before a football game and I was plinking out “Push It” by Salt N Pepa. I thought it would sound good at a football game, so I transposed it for saxophone (my instrument) and I decided I was going to teach it to my homegirl Britney at the game. Mr. Hooper, our band director, caught us and told us to stop noodling in the stands, and I asked him if I could teach her a song. He made us put our scarves in the bell to mute ourselves and I taught her “Push It.” Once she had it, I figured out the harmony to it, and Mr. Hopper let us play it like twice.
That was the first time I ever “arranged” something, but it gave me the confidence to play by ear. That confidence came in handy when our football team went to state, because there was a big mellophone solo in our second song during the halftime show, but the mellophone player got in trouble or something (I don’t remember what happened) and she couldn’t go with us. Mr. Hopper knew I knew everybody’s part, because everybody’s part was more interesting than alto sax, and he told me to play Christy’s solo for him in his office the week before the big game. He gave me some pointers, and the solo was mine. Walking from my spot on in the back of the formation to take my solo position on the 50 yard line at the state championship was probably the highlight of my life up through 8th grade.
Later that year I went to All-State Band and I thought one of the songs we played would sound good at a football game. I remembered what I could, made my own staff paper, and wrote it out for each instrument. When I asked Mr. Hopper if we could play it, he said yes, and even though I had the baritone transposition completely wrong, he asked me to stay after school. He told me I had a real talent for music. I was 12 or 13 at the time, so there were musicians who were objectively better at their instrument, because I had only been playing sax for a couple of years, but he told me he was impressed with my ears.
I never wanted to be a professional sax player, but I loved music. Mr. Hopper told me I had good ears, and I kept arranging music. I arranged marching band and acapella music all through college. I was able to start making a few extra coins and that supplemented my income when I moved to NYC and couldn’t find a job that would pay my rent. I don’t really do it much anymore, but Mr. Hopper was the first person to tell me I was really good at something, and you never really forget it.
So shoutout to the teachers out there. Somebody remembers what you told them, and it still makes them smile decades later.
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