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My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future--Alice Randall in conversation with Francesca T. Royster

Event date: 
Wednesday, April 24, 2024 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm

This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here.

Charis welcomes Alice Randall in conversation with Francesca T. Royster for a discussion of 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. This event is co-sponsored by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and the Department of Creative Arts at Agnes Scott College. 


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 co-write 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.

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.

Francesca T. Royster is a Professor of English at DePaul University in Chicago, and received her PhD from University of California, Berkeley in English Literature in 1995. At DePaul she teaches courses on African American Literature, Queer Writers of Color and Writing About Music.  She’s written scholarly work on Shakespeare, Black Lesbian Country music fans, Prince, and Fela Kuti on Broadway among other topics.  Her recent special issue of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, on the futures of Country Music, "Uncharted Country,” co-edited with Nadine Hubbs, won the 2021 Ruth Solie Award from the American Musicological Society. Her books include Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon  (Palgrave MacMillan, 2003), Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era  (University of Michigan Press, 2013), Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions (University of Texas Press, 2022), and Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance (Abrams/ Overlook Press, 2023). And her book, Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions was recently awarded the 2023 Ralph Gleason Award for Music Books by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

The event is free and open to all people, but we encourage and appreciate a donation of $5-20 in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Donate on crowdcast or via our website: www.chariscircle.org/donate or in person the night of the event.

Please contact us at info@chariscircle.org or 404-524-0304 if you would like ASL interpretation at this event. If you would like to watch the event with live AI captions, you may do so by watching it in Google Chrome and enabling captions: Instructions here. If you have other accessibility needs or if you are someone who has skills in making digital events more accessible please don't hesitate to reach out to info@chariscircle.org. We are actively learning the best practices for this technology and we welcome your feedback as we begin this new way of connecting across distances.

By attending our virtual event you agree to our Code of Conduct: Our event seeks to provide a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), class, or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Sexual language and imagery are not appropriate. Anyone violating these rules will be expelled from this event and all future events at the discretion of the organizers. Please report all harassment to info@chariscircle.org immediately.

Event address: 
CROWDCAST
My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future By Alice Randall Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781668018408
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/Black Privilege Publishing - April 9th, 2024

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


Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance By Francesca T. Royster Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781419756177
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Abrams Press - February 7th, 2023

Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance is a brilliant literary memoir of chosen family and chosen heritage, told against the backdrop of Chicago’s North and South Sides.
 
As a multiracial household in Chicago’s North Side community of Rogers Park, race is at the core of Francesca T.


Event Summary: 
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.