Miko Marks returns to country music, ready to reconnect

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Country music performer Miko Marks’ greatest talent is reclaiming, resuscitating and reaffirming elements of the African-American musical experience in five-minute songs.

She arrived in Music City 15 years ago as part of a wave of black talent, including Rissi Palmer, Darius Rucker pioneered rock-crossover success in country music. For the mainstream country music industry, however, opening doors to more than one black artist at a time was still considered an “innovative” notion, Marks said.

The setback left her intimidated and confused. She eventually left Nashville and her dreams of country music stardom behind her.

“I wasn’t as aware as I am now, so I let people shape me and my music and me,” she said, holding back a tear from her right eye.

But after raising a son, Justin, and being empowered by profound social changes in America over the past five years, she has returned to gender.

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The Bay Area-based Marks spoke while seated in a green room at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum during the recent Country Music Association festival. Amazingly, it was her first time performing at CMA Fest and her first Hall of Fame visit.

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An hour later, she sang an unreleased gospel-tinged country ballad as she sat on stage with critically acclaimed female country artists like Hailey Whitters and Priscilla Block on the Next Women of Songwriting Tour. Country by CMT at the Hall’s CMA Theatre. Then, spurred on by the spirit of the moment, Marks rose from her stool between Block and another rising star, Ashland Craft.

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She passionately sang the words “you may lay down your burdens”. The whole room stood up and applauded. Then, as she sat down, she finally wiped away that tear from her right eye.

Priscilla Block, next in line in the round, looked at the crowd in awe.

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“This (music) is really me. It comes from my gut. I don’t sing about incidental things,” Marks said of what inspires him to make music like his John Lewis tribute. next album titled “Good Trouble”. “It’s important to me to make music that is both entertaining and socially relevant to the cultural conversations redefining American life. All I can hope is that listeners enjoy hearing me as myself and authentic.”

In mainstream country music, Marks’ unique gift as a reclaimer, resurrection and reaffirmation of black music is vital as the genre’s lineage of top artists have borrowed and stolen most born and defined beats, styles and aesthetics. clearly in African-American culture.

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Miko Marks arrives for the CMT Music Awards at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday, April 11, 2022.

Because Marks is a revivalist, her songs and style cross a realm of sounds considered timeless American. Thus, his music is not influenced by dated vibes but rather warmly familiar tones.

She credits growing up in a musical family that played bluesy gospel songs at church conventions as sparking her interest in music with thick drums and heavy melodies. When it comes to country music, she credits her Mississippi-born grandmother playing storytelling songs to her at a young age, sparking her interest.

“You take all of that and then mix funk and jazz into that gumbo. The music that comes out of it is a high, limitless sound that transcends boundaries,” she said.

“Historically, black people have been segregated and separated from our culture, musically, since the days when white artists were allowed to (commercially sell) hillbilly music, and when black artists – regardless of genre – found each other to sell racing discs (much less lucrative).

“Race Records” is also the name of his 2021 concept EP which features covers of songs like “Long as I Can See the Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It features songs recorded by white artists with interpretations of sounds like (in the case of the Creedence cover) the blues as inspiration. These are of course sounds steeped in black heritage.

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Marks said her career is a “surreal dream” these days, but it’s also focused on capitalizing on the power inherent in her talent in the face of her circumstances to create her moment in the spotlight.

“I am seasoned, much more prepared and have been shaped by experiences that allow me to slowly assimilate everything so that I can properly receive all that is due to me,” Marks said with calm, determined assurance. “I’m going to slowly step into my moment, and it will lift my spirit while touching someone else’s soul.”

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