Rissi Palmer, a keen student of history, had long noticed problems with the way people talked about race in country music. Discussions often centered on the same small group of artists but never thoroughly investigated the past beyond Charley Pride — and she knew there was a rich history of artistic contributions out there. She felt compelled to set the record straight.
“I’d see all these things and I’m like, ‘That’s not true. That’s not complete,’” Palmer says. The North Carolina-based singer started talking to other country artists who had counter-narratives to share. Now she interviews guests on Color Me Country, her biweekly Apple Music country show spotlighting black, indigenous, and Latinx artists. The show takes its title from the lone 1970 album of Linda Martell, the first black woman to perform solo on the Grand Ole Opry. “What better way to honor the history of people of color in country music [than] to honor one of the patron saints of it?” Palmer says.
…Palmer also partnered with fellow Apple Music Country host Kelly McCartney to create the Color Me Country Fund, which has raised nearly $15,000 to provide microgrants for performers coming on her show. “Everyone I am going to interview, I offer it to them,” Palmer says. “Like, ‘Hey, you need any money?’ You don’t have to write an application. I just mainly want to help plant a little seed and help you take care of your rent for a month if that’s what you need, or pay for your car repairs.” (Read more.)