Rissi Palmer

As the first black woman to land a single on the Billboard charts in nearly 20 years, Rissi Palmer knows that she stands out, but she’s not complaining.

“It’s been a very interesting experience, but in good way, for the most part,” she tells Newsweek. “I think initially everyone is really curious to see if I’m for real. Once they get past the ‘Oh my God, you’re black’ phase, people are able to focus on the music. Let’s face it, there aren’t many 5-foot-9 black women with big curly hair performing country music in Nashville. It’s a definite attention getter!”

Rissi, who made her Grand Ole Opry debut in June, says the experience “was truly one of the most amazing moments of my life. I first came to Nashville when I was 19, and one of the first places I visited was the Opry. I swore that one day I was going to play there, and there I was, six years later, standing in the sacred circle, singing my single and a Patsy Cline cover in front of a full house that included my family, friends and label family. It was extremely emotional. I cried several times that night. I feel like it was a milestone in my career, it was validating.”

Rissi admits the lack of African-American country singers scared her in the beginning of my career. “I was like, ‘I can’t be a country singer. There are no black women country singers,’ ” she says. “It was the encouragement of my first managers, partnered with my very defiant ‘tell me I can’t and I will’ attitude that propelled me forward.”

Rissi is proud to be representing a genre that she says has no boundaries. “There are a lot of African-Americans who love country music,” she says. “Most of the feedback I get have been comments like, ‘Finally there’s someone out there that looks just like me that I can relate to.’ I personally feel that anyone who is truly touched by country music, whether they’re black, white or whatever, can sing it with sincerity. In my opinion, it’s universal music and exclusive to none.”

  • Hurt Don’t Know When To Quit
    Hold On To Me
    Country Girl
    Anybody Out There

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4 Comments

  1. Comment by Anonymous:

    One of the “best” new country music singers around. It’s a dog gone shame her videos aren’t as widely seen as other country music singers are. Would also be nice to see her on a few morning shows like ‘Good Morning America’ or even ‘The Today Show’. Kudos Rissi.

  2. Comment by Anonymous:

    I am a Black woman who listens to Country music, and I had CMT on one morning as I was fixing my coffee, and heard Country Girl…..I thought to myself, I like that, and went into the room to see who the singer was…..when I first looked at the TV, I thought Ohhhh…Ok…she’s a back up singer…..THEN when I saw she WAS the singer I was beside myself with glee! I began nagging my local Country station to no avil…..but that’s ok…as soon as the CD came out I got it! I tell you…it’ll be nice going to a Country concert where I’m not only Black woman there! Thanks Rissi! I cannot wait to see what you come out with next! I’m ready!!!

  3. Comment by Laura:

    Rissi just did a new version of Jordin Sparks’ “No Air”. AMAZING! Check it out at http://www.myspace.com/rissipalmer.

  4. Comment by tippie:

    i missed seeing Rissi in indio,ca in arp 08, and had never heard of her, so i googled her and saw a beautiful black woman who was a country music singer. this sparked my curiosity. would she be like Charley Pride, Trini Triggs, Cowboy Troy all of whom i like.i saw Rissi Palmer in sweethome, or. aug 2 08 and absolutely loved her. the cd is great! and thank you Rissi for signing my cd insert and allowing me to have my pic taken with you!

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