Part 2 of a 3 Part Series

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — We continue our roundtable with outstanding Black women country artists Frankie Staton, Rissi Palmer and Miko Marks. 

In this second part we find out about influences, as well as some particular individual questions for each artist.

6. Who would you consider influences and/or favorite artists?

Frankie Staton: “Just too many to mention, so I will stick to Country.  Hank, Sr., Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette,  Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Leona Williams, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Alabama, Lady A, Dwight Yoakam,  and I’ll stop here. We could literally be here all day. How did I leave out Tim McGraw?”

Frankie Staton

Rissi Pamer: “I’m inspired by artists like Linda Martell, Patty Griffin, Phoebe Snow, James Taylor, Wynonna, and Prince, just to name a few.”

Miko Marks: “I am heavily influenced by gospel singers, Aretha Franklin, Shirley Caesar, and storytellers like Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker and Patsy Cline.”

7. Where were your first performances?

FS: “I sat in on jam sessions on lower Broadway, Printer’s Alley, and anywhere else they’d let me sing. Then I got hired for my first real gig at the Brass Rail, in Printer’s Alley.”

RP:  “I started out singing in the church choir when I was five-years-old and then graduated to school talent shows and talent pageants when I was a teenager. My first professional gig was when I was 16 and started singing with a teen-based singing group sponsored by our local TV station in St. Louis, MO called Team 11. We would perform at Cardinals games, trade shows, Six Flags, festivals, things like that.” 

MM: “My first performances were in the church surrounded by family and encouragement. I later was able to perform in a high school small group. I performed at Carnegie Hall when I was 15 so that was my official big stage.” 

Miko Marks

8. All of you in one way or another are trailblazers. What do you hope your primary impact will be?

FS: “Hopefully, that people will no longer look at us as aliens, like we’re nuts. That they will respect us for standing for something that though we were severely marginalized, we continued on to perform the music that appealed to us. That it says to young Black girls, It is OK to be DIFFERENT.”

RP: “ I hope that my legacy will be my work to preserve the history of artists of color in Country music. I hope to be a part of killing the idea that Country music is “white music” and teaching that this music belongs to everyone.”

MM: “I hope that my impact will be that it is okay to be successful within.  I want people to walk away from my music hearing the resilience and unapologetic truth.” 

9. Frankie, what do you think the impact and legacy of the Black Country Music Association will ultimately be?

FS: “Since it is all on film, the hope is that the level of talent will speak for itself. The most important legacy for me is that I told dying people that I would play their music until I left this earth. And I am sticking to it! That finally, though there was no slot for us, that there was a place that welcomed them, that applauded them, that said to them, ”You Are Worthy.”

10. Rissi, how did you podcast begin and how do you decide what guests to book and which songs do present?

RP: “2020 marks fifty years since the debut album of Linda Martell, the first Black woman to play the Grand Ole Opry and to chart a song on the Billboard Country Chart. Her album, “Color Me Country,” was the foundation on which I, and everyone after her, have built a career. It’s kind of crazy to think that after all these years, we are still asking where the Black presence in Country music is and more baffling, where are the Black and Brown female stars? In 2018, after reading several incomplete lists in magazines and blogs,”

Rissi Palmer-Stypman

“I set out to create a complete list of Black and Brown female country artists. The more I researched, the more I knew these stories had to be told.  This pushed me to create this podcast, “Color Me Country,” named affectionately after Linda’s landmark album.”

11. Miko, how were you able to build a Country music career while not being either in Nashville or part of its establishment?”

“I never lived in Nashville. I recorded in Nashville and the city has a special place in my heart for that reason. I hope to move to Nashville one day and be a part of the Music City wholeheartedly.”  

12. Miko and Rissi, where did the idea for a tour originate, when will it begin and how many dates?

RP: “We’ve been friends for a long time and have kicked around the idea of making music together, but just never had the time. Then Miko and I did a show together and had so much fun. I thought, “This is fun. I want us to do this.” I discussed it with Miko and the rest is history. It felt important to me that as independent artists and Black women in this industry, we made sure to take care of ourselves and not wait on someone to sanction it or make it happen for us.  The tour starts May 4th and ends on May 13. “

MM: “Rissi and I have become dear friends. Our relationship transcends any box someone wants to put us in.  We have been on this journey together for a long time and what better way to come full-circle, than to go out on tour together.”

Tour dates:

May 4 Old Saybrook, CT The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center 

May 5 Brownfield, ME Stone Mountain Arts Center 

May 6 Boston, MA City Winery Haymarket 

May 7 New York, NY City Winery – The Loft 

May 10 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live 

May 11 Durham, NC The Pinhook 

May 13 Atlanta, GA Eddie’s Attic