In December of 2020, Rainey Day partnered with Rissi Palmer to create the Color Me Country Artist Fund to build on the work she does with Color Me Country Radio on Apple Music. The mission is the same: to support the underrepresented voices of BIPOC artists in country music that, for too long, have lived outside the spotlight and off the airwaves.

Linda Martell

Last year marked 50 years since the debut album by Linda Martell, the first Black woman to play the Grand Ole Opry and to chart a song on the Billboard Country Chart. Her album, Color Me Country, was the foundation upon which Rissi, and everyone after her, have built their careers. Because of racism and sexism, Linda was blacklisted and pushed to the margins of country music history. The more Rissi learned of Linda’s story, the more she realized that she could have very easily found herself in the same position, had it not been for resources and opportunity.

It was then she decided that no other artist should face this fight alone or have to leave the business simply because of a lack of financial help. The work with Color Me Country — both the radio show and the artist fund — are Rissi’s love letter to Linda Martell, Ruby Falls, Dona Mason, Barbara Cooper, Virginia Kirby, and every woman whose names we’ll never know who made it possible for Rissi to first step on that Opry stage in 2008.

In its first three months, the CMC AF raised over $15,000 and distributed 20 grants to BIPOC country music artists, several of whom have also been honored with inclusion in CMT’s Next Women of Country program. And we’re just getting started.

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Color Me Country Grant Recipients

Ashlie Amber DeLila Black Chapel Hart Star De Azlan Madeline Edwards
Kam Franklin Jett Holden Tae Lewis Kris Londyn D’orjay
Micah McClendon Tristan McIntosh Kären McCormick Kendra Neece Neffy
Lizzie No Camille Parker Petrella Valerie Ponzio Queen Esther
Kathryn Shipley Crystal Shawanda Haeley Vaughn Sacha Visagie Michael Whitfield
Julie Williams