americana

Lyza Renee

Black Pumas, the three-year-old Austin soul-funk duo that earned two Americana Award nominations this year, made a splash on Tuesday with three Grammy Award nominations, including Best American Roots Performance and Record of the Year for “Colors” and an overall Album of the Year nod for their debut Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition). The highly danceable band is the brainchild of Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada, who met through colleagues only in 2017.

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As ideas go, “Shut Up And Sing” has only backfired. The edict comes from conservatives triggered by political beliefs more liberal than their own coming from songwriters they like. Broadcaster Laura Ingram wrote a book about it. It became so central to the blackball campaign against the Dixie Chicks over their 2003 remarks against the Iraq War that the phrase became the title of a documentary. But the Chicks certainly didn’t go mum, and neither has popular music generally.

Americana music was born with a contradiction at its core – one that was bound to surface in ways that would be both uncomfortable and fulfilling. As a mid 1990s initiative by an independent music sector centered in traditional country, roots rock, bluegrass and folk music, Americana inherited a century of cultural hybridizing and marginalizing that treated Black American music as a kind of open source software whose inventors had been given no options for ownership of their inventions.

Shervin Lainez

More than ever, it’s imperative to reinforce the truth that the blues, a creation of African-Americans, is the foundation upon which our popular music was built, with infinitely more appropriation than compensation. We’d make a mistake though to think of the blues, a genre of genres with 19th century roots, as atavistic and arcane, a music for recycling and mere preservation. Adia Victoria’s vision of the blues is as defiant as the music ever was, and not here for the comfort or consolation of those who’ve institutionalized the commerce that supports the art.

Val Hoeppner

Tanya Tucker, the rowdy outlaw country star of the 1970s and 80s, capped off a remarkable comeback year on Sunday winning her first-ever Grammy Awards almost 50 years after releasing her debut single. The Nashville-based legend took home two trophies: Best Country Album for 2019’s While I’m Livin’, and she shared Best Country Song for “Bring My Flowers Now.” 

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