Thanks to Darius Rucker, Rissi Palmer and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, black folks are finally rediscovering their country roots.
There’s long been an assumption that black folks and country music just don’t mix—even though that assumption completely erases from history the music and success of Charley Pride, Ray Charles and even the Pointer Sisters: To many blacks, country music is seen as synonymous with rednecks and white supremacists, its incongruity with pigmented people, relegating it to little more than a bad punch line in pop culture. (Cue Samuel Jackson and Bernie Mac stranded at a country juke joint in Soul Men! Two brothers singing country and dancing the two-step! Hilarity ensues.)
For far too long if you loved country, and you had, what Pride called a “pigmentation situation,” chances are, you kept that love on the down low.
Now, it seems, it may finally be OK to come out of the closet.
Oprah recently dedicated an entire show to country music, declaring, “Country music is the real soul music!” Sitting next to her was Darius Rucker, of Hootie and the Blowfish, who made history atop the country charts, the first African-American solo act to have a No. 1 country hit since Pride wrapped things up in 1983. (Ray Charles, performing with Willie Nelson, had a hit in 1984.)