These two black country singers just made history.
Country music is seeing some major changes this year thanks to black artists.
Jimmie Allen‘s debut single “Best Shot” debuted at no. 1, making him the first black artist to score a career no.1 with a debut single at country radio.
According to Taste of Country, the 32-year Delaware native who released his debut album Mercury Lane in October, joins Darius Rucker — the former lead singer of rock band Hootie & the Blowfish— as the only black country artists to hit No. 1 with their debut singles.
Georgia native, Kane Brown‘s sophomore album, Experiment debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it the third country release to earn the spot in 2018. It’s also the first country sophomore album to reach no. 1 on the 200 chart since 2014. It’s also earned the most first-day streams for a country album in the U.S. ever on Apple Music. The 25-year-old singer-songwriter’ 2016 self-titled debut album peaked at no. 5 on the chart.
Allen is slated to accompany Brown on his Live Forever Tour starts in January.
— Jimmie Allen (@JimmieAllen) November 19, 2018
“If someone asked me two years ago if I thought that this would be my life today—that I’d be on the red carpet at the CMAs or my song would be the No. 1 song on country radio, I would have honestly said no,” said Allen in a press statement.
🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙌🏽 Thank you fans , country radio, and my whole team that was apart of this 💯 pic.twitter.com/eM3x0eqpfM
— Kane Brown (@kanebrown) November 19, 2018
Brown has been vocal about being a black artist in country music. According to the Tennessean, in a now deleted tweet, he wrote “some people in Nashville who have pub(lishing) deals won’t write with me because I’m black,” and spoke about “getting looked down on just because of your skin” at the CMA Music Festival earlier this year.
Darius Ruckermade his country music debut in 2008. His first solo single, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” debuted at No. 51 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs that year. In 2009, he became the first black artist ever to win the Country Music Association New Artist of the Year award since the award was introduced in 1981.
The only other black artist to win a CMA was Charley Pride, who won entertainer of the year in 1971 and male vocalist in 1971 and 1972.
A small but significant stride. Let’s see how far black artists will get repositioning themselves in the genre that’s historically and culturally had black roots all along.