When I last sat down for a conversation with Nashville journalist, Marissa Moss it was 2019 and the world was a little different. I caught up with her this week as, since the US election and the social upheaval before and after, it seems that no aspect of American society lies undisturbed. Include in that Country Music.
Marissa, as you may know is a writer for the Nashville Scene, Rolling Stone and other outlets and within the last few days wrote a great explainer to mainstream USA about what has been going on in Music City in recent days. Her piece in the LA Times highlights some of the problems country music has been addressing since before our last conversation, but is also lays bare the troubling thread of racism that still underpins the genre. In the article Marissa points out some of the prejudices that seem to beset Music Row policy execs and draws the reasonable conclusion that all is not well on Music Row. On this Tuesday’s show we’ll play you some excellent music by Rissi Palmer, a black country artist who was dropped by her label for poor sales. As Marissa points out however, she suffered similar sales figures to fellow white artists whose contracts have since been extended. And yes, in case you are wondering, we will be getting her to explain why all of this bubbled to the surface this week because of the actions of Country Music’s current star, Morgan Wallen.
If all this seems a bit gloomy we will also be talking about the recent TJ Osborne story. TJ, one half of The Brothers Osborne, decided to celebrate his sexuality publicly and there has been a lot of celebration that finally, a male country artist on a major record label, has been able to be honest about living as a gay man. We asked Marissa to pick us the most appropriate Brothers track, and she didn’t disappoint.
There is also the moment where I ask Marissa if any of this ever put her off country music and you can hear how she answered that on this Tuesday’s show.
We have so much new music to play including four (count them) Scottish artists releasing tracks this month. We’ll bring you records from Carly Pearce, Langhorne Slim, No-No Boy and Robert Vifian, Ruston Kelly and Curt Chambers.
We’ll mark the passing of a great Nashville writer, Jim Weatherly, the author of Midnight Train To Georgia and along the way we’ll play you a recording from 96 years ago by one of the first female country stars because, as you well know, we love country music.
If you do too you might want to let the snow keep falling, keep yourself warm and make a date to be near the wireless tonight at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland. If you’re anywhere outside Scotland you will find us live or later on BBC Sounds. Join me if you can.