Rissi Palmer Says Race Relations Are “Improving” in Country Music, Advocates for More Progress

"You exist and you matter," says the "Seeds" vocalist about marginalized artists in country music

Whether tuned in to CMT’s Top 20 Countdown, listening to Apple Music’s Color Me Country podcast or eagerly anticipating her promised, forthcoming new album, groundbreaking country performer and broadcaster Rissi Palmer’s unusually busy — but awfully easy to find — these days. Noteworthy as well is her work as an advocate for modern era BIPOC artists in country music, plus celebrating and highlighting the legacy of stars like Charley Pride and recent 2021 CMT Music Awards Equal Play Award honoree Linda Martell. Thus, her work in the latter regard recently yielding her the honor of being one of Rolling Stone’s Future 25 Innovators, Entrepreneurs and Leaders should come as no shock. Regarding her thoughts about the next steps for country music, she’s fervent and hopeful.

Palmer tells Rolling Stone she’s noticed “improvements” in race relations in country music over the past few years but also offers that there’s still work left to accomplish. “The labels in Nashville still have a way to go, and it’s going to take more than signing a few black performers,” she says. “I don’t mean run out and sign the first person of color you find and then you’re like, ‘Go us, we did it!’ It means, who’s in your boardroom? Who’s producing the records? Who’s writing the records? Who’s engineering them? Who’s the stylist? Who’s taking the pictures? It’s in all these things.”

Regarding her living legacy of sorts, the “Seeds” vocalist adds, “I just don’t want anybody to die feeling like they’re forgotten and that they don’t matter. I know what that feels like. If I can tell you a story and I’m doing it here in my little corner of the world, then you did exist and you did matter.”