Artists, historians examine country music’s past and future

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Just days before the CMA Awards, artists, academics and historians gathered in Nashville to address racial representation within the genre. It was a timely event as the industry deals with a racial reckoning, both past and present. Country artists like Cleve Francis and Frankie Staton were pioneers and activists as leaders of the Black Country Music Association, but their work continues today. Latina country artist Valerie Ponzio said she wants more voices represented in the Music Row writing rooms, where hit songs are created. The issues that plagued country music in 2021 were reflections of what was happening decades prior.