Country music doesn’t have an abundance of black artists, admits Miko Marks, but she says “it’s not as rare as one might think.”
“There are people like myself who have a love for the genre, and there are many ‘unknown’ artists who are out there doing the work and pursuing their passion as I am,” Marks explains.
Born in Flint, Michigan, Marks was exposed to country music as well as gospel, classical and R&B by her family. “I was moved by the sweet storytelling way of the artists that I grew up with — Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Lorrie Morgan, Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty — and was able to find my voice.”
Freeway Bound, her first album, was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, and released in 2005 on Mirrome Records. It Feels Good followed in 2007. Since then, Marks — a former legal secretary in San Francisco and a resident of Oakland, California, for more than 20 years — has played around America as part of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, a celebration of black cowboys and cowgirls. Her next performance is also linked to an event centered around the work of black performers: the Black Music Matters Festival, taking place Aug. 2-6 and viewable through presenter Country Standard Time’s Facebook page. (Other performers include Hubby Jenkins and Rissi Palmer.)
“I am excited to be a part of this platform, as they are shining a light on the voices of people of color in a genre where we are less visible and supporting the Equal Justice Initiative, which is what we need now,” says Marks. “The Black Lives Matter movement has many moving parts that need to be addressed, and music is one of them. I hope the music transcends stereotypes and boundaries that society generally casts upon artists and allows the heart and soul to be felt and heard above all else.”
For her Black Music Matters Festival set, scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Aug. 3, Marks plans to perform her recent single “Goodnight America,” available via Redtone Records and written by label founder Justin Phipps.
During her acoustic performance, “people can expect a journey,” says Marks, who is writing material for a project she expects to release in 2021.
— By Chris M. Junior