Tyler Childers, Jason Isbell, and other country music stars are using their songs to discuss current affairs affecting America. Through their songs, they reflect on and fight for social causes like racism, police brutality, and social injustice in the country.
Tyler Childers Reflects on America’s Dark Past
In his recent song “Long, Violent History,” Childers reflects on the black perspective in the country. He examines the past of the United States including that of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Through his lyrics, Childers compares those past events to what he’s seeing in the news today.
In the song, Childers says, “justice for Breonna Taylor, a Kentuckian like me.” Taylor died after police raided her house in March.
“In the midst of our own daily struggles, it’s often hard to share an understanding for what another person might be going through,” Childers said in a video message. He discussed interactions between black communities and police officers and how they lead to police brutality. For instance, George Floyd died after a police officer kneeled for several minutes on his neck during an altercation. “If we wouldn’t stand for it, why would we expect another group of Americans to stand for it? Why would we stand silent, or worse, get in the way of it being rectified?”
Jason Isbell Uses His Fame as a Country Music Artist to Discuss Politics
Isbell has used his platform as a country singer to discuss both politics as well as social causes he believes in. The Alabama native is aware his political leanings may not match those of some of his fans. For instance, he has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump and also believes the president should have been impeached. He also supported Doug Jones, a Democratic Senator in a majority Republican state.
But Isbell believes people should have discussions on politics. And he wants to be open about his own beliefs even if some disagree with him.
“I know the people here, even the ones I strongly disagree with on personal and professional issues,” Isbell told Billboard. “I know them and grew up around them. And I know what makes ’em happy and what makes ’em scared. With that in mind, I feel like it’s important to speak to those people and not ignore them and not try to hide in your own bubble. I guess it’s partially because I grew up here that I want to come down and help Doug out, but it’s also because I feel like it’s the right thing to do.”
Eric Church Highlights Societal Issues in New Country Song
In his new single “Stick That In Your Country Song,” Eric Church touches on heavy topics like wounded military veterans, overworked teachers, and protests in the country. The song was a challenge to other country musicians to sing about weightier topics and societal issues.
“I’ve never had a song in my career that was a harbinger of things to come. When we recorded ‘Stick That in Your Country Song,’ we had a booming economy and a pretty great world going on,” Church said in an interview. “And I remember thinking when I did it, ‘Wow, I’m not sure this, I’m not sure how relevant this is for right now. I love the song. I love the sentiment, but I’m just not sure.”
“Within about 30 days, the world changed, and it changed for a while,” Church continued. “This song just became more and more real and more and more relevant. And truth be told – 100% honesty – I had a different single picked out as the first single. And then the world kept changing and it kept bringing itself almost like a magnet back to this song and back to this moment. So, this song found itself. It wasn’t me finding it, it found itself.”
Mickey Guyton Sings of Being Black in America and Country Music
In her song “Black Like Me,” Mickey Guyton reflects on being not only a black woman in America but also a black country singer. In the song, Guyton tackles issues that face black Americans every day, especially racism. The artist had recorded the song prior to the deaths of Floyd and the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
Guyton planned to release the song after the COVID-19 pandemic, but she changed her mind when she saw the news.
“I didn’t feel right trying to promote anything while people are suffering and not able to buy food. … And then I saw Ahmaud [Arbery], and then I saw Breonna [Taylor],” Guyton told NPR. “And then I saw George. I just put ‘Black Like Me’ on my Instagram. No permission, no nothing. I just put it out there because people need to hear that. And then Spotify called and asked for it. I was like, ‘Here. Take it. No, there doesn’t need to be a promotion, because that’s tacky.’ This is not about me. This is about the bigger spectrum of things and about humanity.”