Black Music Matters Festival

Country Standard Time announces Black Music Matters Festival Aug. 2-6

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 – Country Standard Time announced today that it is presenting the Black Music Matters Festival, featuring Black Country and Americana artists, Aug. 2-6.

Festival participants include Hubby Jenkins, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rissi Palmer, Miko Marks, Barrence Whitfield, Ben Hunter, Aaron Vance, Daniel Houze and Kamara Thomas. The virtual Festival will be available via Country Standard Time Facebook livestreams.

The Festival kicks off on Sunday, Aug. 2 at 7 p.m. EST with Rissi Palmer and concludes with Hubby Jenkins on Thursday, Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. Kamara Thomas will be in concert for a most special Festival Encore performance on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. EST

Other performances are:
Monday, Aug. 3
Ben Hunter - 7 p.m. EST
Miko Marks - 8 p.m. EST

Tuesday, Aug. 4
Aaron Vance - 7 p.m. EST
Barrence Whitfield - 8 p.m. EST

Wednesday, Aug. 5
Brittney Spencer - 7 p.m. EST

"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, I wanted 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 artists," says Country Standard Time founder and Editor Jeff Remz.

"I thought long and hard about how Country Standard Time could do its part to address systemic underrepresentation of black artists, and the Festival is one answer. We have a longstanding philosophy of helping promote independent and under the radar screen artists. Black artists - particularly females - have long been excluded from worthy coverage. Let their voices be heard."

Festival attendees are asked to make donations to the Equal Justice Initiative, the Bryan Stevenson social justice group featured in the book and movie "Just Mercy." EJI, which is based in Montgomery, Ala., "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."

Statements from Festival performers
Miko Marks, Oakland, Cal.-based country singer
"I am participating in the Black Music Matters Festival as a person of color in the music industry in support of awareness around Black lives and music and the contribution we continue to make through music."

Ben Hunter, the award-winning Seattle-based artist
"The role of Black voices in Americana/Country music has been ever present, while at the same time been historically and methodically exploited, co-opted, and omitted from the narrative. And now, as has always been, Black voices have to scream and yell to the mountaintops for recognition of something that isn't hard evidence to demonstrate. And just like everything else, ignorance of those cold, hard facts, is one of our countries worst sins. I'm proud to be participating in a festival that celebrates and commemorates the contributions - past, present and future - of Black musicians in Americana/Country, and I thank all those before me, and with me, that have paved the way and undergone - and continue to undergo - the hard road to even get us where we are today."

Aaron Vance, Nashville-based country singer
"Being a black in country music is very hard, but it's easy cause I was born for it. I cut my teeth on Waylon and Hank and so on when I was coming up, but it was the blues! I was raised on a farm and I was raised in the country...around country folk. I sound country, but I got soul." "I work everyday, even late, and I'm still pursuing my dream. This is an honor to get to play for the Black Music Matters Festival! It's a blessing, and it's history, and that's what I'm here for - to make a mark in a positive way and to pass it on as a song that I wrote because of the life I lived."

Barrence Whitfield, Boston-area-based soul and country singer
"To be part of this project is to continue the roots of playing country music and Black music - in that both styles tell the stories of love, heartbreak, substance abuses and triumph. And in the hope that Black musicians can be recognized like Stoney Edwards and O.B McCinton in the history of this music form."

Country singer Rissi Palmer
"The Equal Justice Initiative does essential work in the community, and I am so excited to be helping in any way I can to further their mission."


Ben Hunter
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.

Hubby Jenkins
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.

Miko Marks
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's debut album, "Freeway Bound," received top honors as the "Country Album of the Year" at The Independent Music Awards. Originally from Flint, Mich., this graduate of Louisiana's famed Grambling State University is also a prolific songwriter. Her sophomore release, "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!

Rissi Palmer
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.

Kamara Thomas
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.

Aaron Vance
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").

Barrence Whitfield
Barrence Whitfield a.k.a. Barry White, 67, is a native of Jacksonville, Fla., who grew up in Newark and East Orange, N.J. Barrence joined Peter Greenberg to put together Barrence Whitfield and the Savages in 1983, the raucous soul band in the tradition of Little Richard and Solomon Burke. 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." He also has released two albums for Bloodshot Records.