Black Opry founder Holly G and her co-director, Tanner Davenport, along with Frankie Staton—who led the Black Country Music Association from the mid-1990s into the early 2000s—discuss their organizations’ histories and impact, as well as their future goals for representation and expanding diversity and inclusion within the country music industry. The program, hosted by the Museum’s Angela Stefano Zimmer, was recorded on August 12, 2023, and was offered in support of the exhibition “American Currents: State of the Music.”
During the program, Staton performs “Forever Loretta,” a self-penned tribute to Loretta Lynn. Valierie Ellis Hawkins and Joe West, both members of the Black Country Music Association and the Black Opry, perform Hawkins’s “What I Love About the South,” West’s “Daddy’s Dream,” and the duet “Always.” In addition, Texas native Denitia, a member of the Black Opry, performs her originals “All the Sweet Tea” and “The Good Times.”
The Black Country Music Association—founded by performer Cleve Francis in 1995 and led by Staton beginning in 1996—built community, hosted showcases in Nashville, and educated fans about country music’s Black performers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Black Opry continues that work, spotlighting Black Americana, blues, country, and folk artists and connecting Black fans. Founded in April 2021 by Holly G, the organization has grown into a national performance series, the Black Opry Revue, and a record label, Black Opry Records, in partnership with Thirty Tigers.
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