Amazon Music is set to release a new documentary that shines a light on country music’s black roots and examines how a new generation of artists are breaking down old genre barriers.
The feature film, For love and countrywill be available exclusively on Amazon Prime and the Amazon Music app from April 7. Led by Joshua Kissi, the project “examines country music through the personal stories of a new generation of black artists claiming space in Nashville – and helping to transform the genre in the process.”
“What I realized is that country music as a genre is just as complex as this country itself,” Kissi said in a statement. “Now is the time to stand up for the voices that have always mattered over time, especially the musicians who didn’t get credit when it was due.
The film includes appearances and performances from Jimmie Allen, Blanco Brown, Breland, Shy Carter, Mickey Guyton, Willie Jones, Valerie June, Amythyst Kiah, Reyna Roberts, Allison Russell, Brittney Spencer and Frankie Staton. For love and country also features commentary from Nashville residents, including journalist Andrea Williams, Davidson County Criminal Court clerk and former Vice Mayor Howard Gentry, academic and author Amanda Marie Martínez, and rapper Mike Floss.
The project will give viewers insight into each artist’s unique story and relationship to country music. In 2020, as protests unfolded around the world following the murder of George Floyd, efforts for racial equality and inclusion in the country music industry intensified. For decades, black artists have been underrepresented in all facets of the genre. A recent study by Dr. Jada Watson of SongData found that from 2000 to 2020, only 3.2% of artists signed to major Music City labels were artists of color and only 0.9% were women.
“I’ve always believed in the old saying, ‘if you can see it, you can be it,'” Guyton said. “However, it’s no secret that there has been a lack of representation of black artists in mainstream country music for years. That’s why I hope little black girls growing up now can see us, artists like Brittney, Reyna, Amythyst, Allison, Valerie, Frankie and me, and know they have a place here in country music. We all do.”
For love and country will highlight the experiences, challenges and triumphs of the new generation of talented black country music artists while giving a well-deserved nod to the pioneers who came before them. In a statement, Brittney Spencer shared her hopes the film will help explain and expand efforts for racial equality across gender.
“This film is our collective story, in our own words,” Spencer explained. “We all chart our own unique paths. We all have our own dreams and challenges, and our own ways of traveling them. I hope that when people see this film, they better understand the conversation about race in country music. I hope it humanizes the issues discussed and puts a whole host of beautiful black faces on a topic that the public has heavily engaged and debated, especially over the past two years. I’m happy to be a part of it and to share my story.”
You can watch the full trailer for For love and country below:
A brief history of black country music, from Tee Tot to Breland: