Black Americana is a term that most readily conjures imagery of slave-era memorabilia rather than a subset of contemporary music. Conversely, “old-timey” is a catchall term that masks a history of blackface minstrelsy and certain appropriations of black vernacular culture. In truth, no matter who’s performing, Americana represents an original culture born of African, Native American, and Scotch-Irish hybridity in the southern parts of the U.S.
The notion of who represents Americana spread to the mainstream this past autumn when The Dixie Chicks’ performance with Beyoncé at the Country Music Awards sparked a metaphorical firestorm across both sides of America’s racial binary. (Paste responded by pointing out 6 Reasons Why Country Music Is Blacker Than You Think.) Still, people of color performing this style of music slip under the radar too often, perpetuating the false idea that the Americana genre is just for the white and male. Read more here.