After joining in the outrage and heartbreak of people across the United States in the wake of George Floyd's killing and broader racial injustices, we needed to do something. As is too common across art forms, Black country and Americana artists are sorely underrepresented in festivals and media coverage. This is an opportunity to highlight the many outstanding Black acts and artists in the genres.
These artists have music with a message appropriate for these times. Let their voices be heard.
- Ben Hunter
- Hubby Jenkins
- Miko Marks
- Rissi Palmer
- Brittney Spencer
- Kamara Thomas
- Aaron Vance
- Barrence Whitfield
The concerts will be broadcast on the Country Standard Time Facebook page.
Festival goers can donate to the Equal Justice Initiative, the Bryan Stevenson social justice group featured in the book and movie "Just Mercy." EJI is based in Montgomery, Ala. and "is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society."
Sunday, Aug. 2, 7 p.m. EST
Rissi Palmer is at home in R&B. but made her mark in country, bringing the entire spectrum of popular music to bear on music she calls "Southern Soul." In 2007, her debut album, Rissi Palmer, was released with the singles, "Country Girl," "Hold On To Me" and "No Air" charting on the Billboard Country chart. She followed with an independently released children's album, "Best Day Ever," and an EP, "The Back Porch Sessions." Her most recent release, "Revival," has been critically hailed as her most personal and uplifting work yet. Rissi has performed at The White House, Lincoln Center and the Grand Ole Opry, has appeared on Oprah & Friends, CNN, and the CBS Early Show. She has shared stages with Taylor Swift, the Eagles and Charley Crockett, and has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, People, Ebony, Newsweek and The Huffington Post.
Monday, Aug. 3, 7 p.m. EST
Ben is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist - violin, mandolin, guitar, percussion, voice - playing roots music from around the world. Ben plays in the internationally touring duo, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons, as well as solo and with other local Seattle groups. In 2017, Ben composed music for a dance piece, "Black Bois," which has received critical acclaim and most recently played at The Moore Theater in February 2020. He is currently an artist-in-residence for Seattle's On The Boards theater group. Ben was the recipient of the 2015 Governor's Arts & Heritage Award, 2016 City Arts Magazine Future's List Award, 2016 International Blues Challenge winner, and the 2019 Gordon Ekvall Tracie Memorial Award. Ben is a Seattle Music Commissioner, and works as a consultant for arts & culture community development in Seattle. The concert will be pre-recorded due to other obligations by Ben.
Monday, Aug. 3, 8 p.m. EST
Ebony Magazine crowned Miko Marks "The Storyteller" and recognized her as an artist "Breaking The Sound Barriers in Music," while People Magazine also took note and once named her one of "Nashville's Hottest New Country Stars." Miko Marks is a bona fide maverick that's blazed an unprecedented trail in music. Miko was named "Best New Country Artist" by New Music Weekly. Her debut album, "Freeway Bound," received top honors as the "Country Album of the Year" at The Independent Music Awards. The Fint, Mich. native's sophomore album, "It Feels Good," was also very well received. Miko continues to perform and evolve as an artist, rather than be stereotyped, or pigeonholed by genre or past success. Her ultimate dream is of a world where music has no borders or boundaries!
Tuesday, Aug. 4, 7 p.m. EST
Aaron Vance is the real deal, comfortable in his own skin and confident in his contribution to country music. The Mississippi native got his first cowboy boots at the age of four and began singing in the church his father pastored by the time he was six. Moving to Nashville six years ago, Aaron has released two LPs, ("Talk of the Town" and "My Own Way"), two EPs, ("Country DNA" and "Shifting Gears").
Tuesday, Aug. 4, 8 p.m. EST
Barrence Whitfield, a.k.a. Barry White, 67, is a native of Jacksonville, Fla., who grew up in Newark and East Orange, N.J. He move to Boston to attend Boston University in 1977. Barrence joined Peter Greenberg to put together Barrence Whitfield and the Savages in 1983. The band recorded seven albums between 1983-1995. Barrence reformed the band in 2010 and recorded five more albums until 2017. In 1993, Barrence recorded with the great Americana singer Tom Russell "Hillbilly Voodoo" and in 1994, "Cowboy Mambo." Barrence also recorded "Dig Thy Savage Soul and "Under the Savage Sky" on Bloodshot Records.
Wednesday, Aug. 5, 7 p.m. EST
Brittney Spencer is a singer-songwriter with a free spirit and a love for molding life, truth and wild imagination into songs. Her love for storytelling drove the Baltimore native to Nashville in 2013 with dreams of singing and writing country-alternative music. She's since toured and performed as a background singer for such artists as Carrie Underwood, United Pursuit & Christopher Cross all while establishing herself as a songwriter in Music City. In June, Brittney released her debut solo single, "Compassion." She, like many artists, has enjoyed findIng fun, creative ways to perform and engage digitally amid the global pandemic.
Thursday, Aug. 6, 8 p.m. EST
Hubby Jenkins is a talented multi-instrumentalist who endeavors to share his love and knowledge of old-time American music. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he delved into his southern roots, following the thread of African American history that wove itself through America's traditional music forms. As an integral member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and later Rhiannon Giddens band, Hubby has performed at festivals and venues around the world, earning himself both Grammy and Americana award nominations. Today, he spreads his knowledge and love of old-time American music through his dynamic solo performances and engaging workshops.
Festival Encore Concert - Sunday, Aug 30, 8 p.m. EST
Kamara Thomas is a singer, songspeller, mythology fanatic and multi-disciplinary storyteller based in Durham, N.C. She will release her new album "Tularosa: An American Dreamtime" in 2020. Kamara was named one of the "14 Artists Proving Black Americana is Real" by Paste Magazine and she is currently spearheading "Country Soul Songbook," a musical performance and documentary project exploring race and place in Country and Americana music.