Grammy-nominated country music singer/writer/producer Rissi Palmer will be profiled on the upcoming award-winning PBS series American Masters: In the Making, now in its 37th season. Tony Award–winning actress and singer Audra McDonald hosts the broadcast premiere which features two films focused on two barrier–breaking musicians: opera singer J’Nai Bridges, and country music artist Rissi Palmer. The broadcast premieres on Friday, March 24 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, pbs.org/americanmasters, and the PBS App.
The multi-talented Ms. Palmer is one of the artists who’s helping to break the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ in country music for African American women. Rissi’s done multiple performances at the legendary Grand Ole Opry, been featured in top media outlets including Associated Press, Essence, NYTimes, Newsweek, PEOPLE, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Rolling Stone Magazine, etc. She’s also appeared on ABC News Live, Good Morning America, CBS Mornings, etc. Plus, Rissi is also a correspondent for The CMT Network and hosts her own weekly hit radio show on Apple Music Country.
TRIBUNE: What will viewers see on the upcoming American Masters in the Making series?
RISSI: “Their cameras followed me most of 2022, which proved to be one of my busiest years ever. They followed me on tour here in the states, as well as in Europe to perform at the Americana Country Music Fest in London with some other performers. Viewers will see me in the studio and at home being a wife and mom. I think the profile is a very pretty accurate snapshot of what my life really looks like right now.”
TRIBUNE: In addition to the Grand Ole Opry, you’ve also performed at the White House, New York’s Lincoln Center, and the Apollo Theater and more. Can we safely say that you’ve definitely broken through that glass ceiling for African American female singers in country music?
RISSI: “I think in a lot of ways I have, but at the same time there are still barriers that need to be broken. So, I’m working really hard to make sure those barriers can be made sooner than later. I’m very proud of the work that I’ve done and the work that people around me have helped me to do. But I’m nowhere near done. I still have a very long laundry list of things that I want to do, but I’m really content for now. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, especially considering that most of my career has been independent, kind of calling the shots and such. So. Yeah, I’m very proud of it…”
TRIBUNE: Are you seeing more and more African Americans or just people of color in general, getting into country music, especially women?
RISSI: “There’s definitely been a huge influx, especially in the last couple of years. I think the visibility has made people feel a little bit more comfortable. I think that people (singers) are just empowered to just kind of do what you want to do (musically) because the gatekeepers are falling…In that, there are now more ways to have your music heard that have nothing to do with signing a record deal. Modern technology has made it possible so that everybody can make music. Independent performers can now create and speak directly to their fan base. I think it’s a really good time to be an independent artist.”
TRIBUNE: Share with us about the upcoming national tour that you and friend, African American female country music recording artist Miko Marks, are launching.
RISSI: “Miko and I have been friends for a long time. She’s someone that I really look up to. She’s not only a great friend, she’s also like, an inspiration to me. Miko’s been having a great run in her career too. One day, I was just looking at all the things that both of us had going on and what a good time we have whenever we’re together…So with the help of her manager and her agent, we were able to put together a nice fun acoustic tour. We’re doing some songs together and some separately. The tour starts May 3rd in Washington, DC, and will end in Nashville (May 18th City Winery), which is so apropos because Nashville means so much for both of our careers.”
TRIBUNE: Tell us about the new song that you and Miko recorded together.
RISSI: “It’s titled STILL HERE, and it’s very autobiographical about both of us. The song is about our stories. As you’ve mentioned, we’ve both been at this for a really long time. We were kids when we started doing this, and so many things have been thrown at both of us, both from the industry and just from life itself…I think the song is a testament to us and anyone, who’s holding fast to your dreams and to keep believing in yourself. Miko and I wrote the song together. I’m just really proud of the song. And I’m very excited that we get to have this full circle moment of working together and putting out music and touring together. It’s all just amazing.”
Ticket Info for the upcoming tour: Rissipalmermusic.com and Mikomarks.com/shows