Lionel Knows Best: 10 Black Pop Stars Who Should Go Country

Categories: Lionel Richie

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By Mike Seely

[Editor's note: Country Time is a new biweekly column for our sister music blog in Seattle.]

With the nation's major-party political conventions drawing to a close recently with a rousing reelection appeal from the nation's first black president, it seems fitting to cast a spotlight on an equally rare profession: the black country music artist. Or, rather, the former black pop star seeking to reinvigorate his career by moving to Nashville. Lionel Richie and Darius "Hootie" Rucker both fit this description. Fittingly, their performance of Richie's "Stuck On You" was just nominated for a Country Music Association award for duet of the year, quite certainly the first time two African-Americans have been nominated together in any category.

Will this mark an Obama-like moment in the genre's evolution? All signs point to yes.

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Eight years ago, Richie was big in Germany, which is a polite way of saying he couldn't quite recapture his superstar status in the States (which, in turn, is an even more polite way of saying he couldn't book a gig singing the national anthem before a charity golf tournament in Delaware). So what's a brother to do to rejuvenate his career back home? Simple: Go country. Rucker did it, so surely Richie could. And, boy, did he ever, with his 2012 album Tuskegee--featuring twangy reworkings of his hits backed by country luminaries like Shania Twain and Kenny Chesney--topping both the country and pop charts.

Nashville's embrace of Richie and Rucker actually has more to do with Republican politics than it does with Obama. When right-wingers identify a person of color who's genuinely interested in joining their flock, they can't move fast enough to put that individual on a pedestal (anything to avoid looking like a Ku Klux Klan rally). Same with Nashville, which quickly put together a tribute concert honoring Richie, with the genre's biggest names performing his hits as Lionel gazed admirably at them from a prime seat in the audience. Does anyone really believe Luke Bryan spent his college years sipping white zinfandel in the back of his truck while listening to Can't Slow Down? Doesn't matter: Nashville's embrace of its newfound brethren was swift, absolute, and warm as a Smoky Mountain Holler in July.

Hopefully, other black recording artists thought to be washed up have taken notice of Richie and Rucker's success down south. Specifically, we're hoping the following 10 artists have, as we make the case for why the likes of Nelly and Brandy should pick up a banjo:


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7 comments
c.chastain3
c.chastain3

as  a white male country music conisure the reason why these gentlemen especially Darius is successful is he had affinity for this music  as a matter of fact his second ablum charleston SC 1966 is derive from the Country music Star Radney Foster Del Rio Texas 1959 of which he was a fan while still with Hootie and the Blowfish  and Lionel Richie wrote a few songs for country icon Kenny Rogers  now the latter 2 I'm not a big fan of but I'm the former 2 I'm  and for country music fans you got to show appreciation before acceptance That said I believe future is wide open for any person who has an appreciation for this music.  

freshiefresh
freshiefresh

"1. Bobby Brown. His name could totally pass for a white dude's. "This should be the only words included in this douchebag's resignation letter.  Not only is this ridiculous and racist, it's bad grammar and very poor journalism.

cr4bdbgs
cr4bdbgs like.author.displayName 1 Like

for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations for never conforming to racial expectations 

imxmolina
imxmolina like.author.displayName 1 Like

Maura has been gone for like an hour and we get this? 

Drewski
Drewski like.author.displayName 1 Like

So it only took a couple hours from Maura Johnston leaving to the Village Voice starting in on incredibly dumb, vapid, SEO-grubbing and, in this case, jaw-droppingly racist music listicles? Man, you guys sure work fast…

cr4bdbgs
cr4bdbgs like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I really like the alliteration of "Ike's ex." It sounds nice on the tongue. I wonder why more people haven't referred to Tina Turner as that before this piece?

ben.worstoff
ben.worstoff like.author.displayName 1 Like

Awesome and not racist or gross at all. Now this is the kind of great music journalism that I approve of. High five, brah!

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