My Black Country

A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future


Alice Randall, award-winning professor, songwriter, and author with a “lively, engaging, and often wise” (The New York Times Book Review) voice, offers a lyrical, introspective, and unforgettable account of her past and her search for the first family of Black country music.

Country music had brought Randall and her activist mother together and even gave Randall a singular distinction in American music history: she is the first Black woman to cowrite a number one country hit, Trisha Yearwood’s “XXX’s and OOO’s”. Randall found inspiration and comfort in the sounds and history of the first family of Black country music: DeFord Bailey, Lil Hardin, Ray Charles, Charley Pride, and Herb Jeffries who, together, made up a community of Black Americans rising through hard times to create simple beauty, true joy, and sometimes profound eccentricity.

What emerges in My Black Country is a celebration of the most American of music genres and the radical joy in realizing the power of Black influence on American culture. As country music goes through a fresh renaissance today, with a new wave of Black artists enjoying success, My Black Country is the perfect gift for longtime country fans and a vibrant introduction to a new generation of listeners who previously were not invited to give the genre a chance.

About the author(s)

Alice Randall is a New York Times bestselling novelist, award-winning songwriter, and educator. She is widely recognized as one of the most significant voices in modern Black fiction and has emerged as an innovative food activist committed to reforms that support healthy bodies and healthy communities. She lives in Nashville where she writes country songs.


“A poetic textbook of a history that has been erased.”
—Rosanne Cash, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member, and New York Times bestselling author of Composed: A Memoir

“Alice Randall is the perfect trailblazer to shine this light. In her book My Black Country, she hits all the notes of a great country song. She makes you smile, makes you cry, makes you realize the difficulty and beauty of these very human stories. The profound influence Black artists have had on the genre is so eloquently described, beautifully encapsulated in her own trailblazing role as the first Black woman to co-write a number-one country hit.
She’s a treasure.”
—Brad Paisley, Grammy award-winning country artist

“Alice’s unique position in Nashville, her family background, her talent for word craft, and her insatiable thirst for the truth position her as a much-needed voice and perspective on this seminal and overlooked piece of American cultural history.”
—Rhiannon Giddens, Pulitzer Prize and Grammy award-winning musical artist

"I loved reading about Alice Randall’s path to Nashville, as only she can tell it. My own journey to Music City could not have been more different than hers, but what we share is a passion for the music, and a determination to see the dream through, no matter the obstacle.”  
Trisha Yearwood, Grammy, ACM, and CMA Award-winning artist and New York Times bestselling author

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