Dom Flemons‘ latest album, Black Cowboys, is a collection of seldom-heard stories about the roles African-Americans played in settling the West after America’s Civil War. The album’s inspiration came during a road trip back home where the fifth generation Arizonan became enamored with an obscure collection of stories.
“I came across a book called The Negro Cowboys that talked about how one in four cowboys who helped settle the West were African-American cowboys,” Flemons, a co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, says. “And being an African-American person that’s half-African-American, half-Mexican-American from the Southwest, I just found that to be a fascinating story.”
Now, the album has earned Flemons a 2019 Grammy nomination in the category of best folk album.
Many songs on Black Cowboys will be new to most listeners, but a handful, like Flemons’ rendition of “Home on the Range,” are instantly recognizable. Flemons presents a new image of the American cowboy — one that isn’t exclusively white.