Well, I wrote this song three years ago, because I was so hurt for Botham Jean. He was murdered in Dallas, Texas, which is my hometown, and to see something like that happen…I’ve seen police brutality happen to my own husband, who is Black, and I thought about my own experiences as a Black woman in America, and I wrote the song from that place. I never thought it would see the light of day. One of my co-writers was like, “You know, I think we just wrote one of the biggest songs of your career, and it’s going to make people very angry.” And I was just like, why? My story? Why would it make somebody angry?
Why do you think it took so long for the song to find its moment?
For the last three years, I’ve played this song for people, and, you know, some people wouldn’t even call me back. The majority of people who weren’t Black were like, “This is really powerful, but I need to sit with it for a minute.” So it wasn’t like they didn’t appreciate the song, but they were trying to process what it was saying. It wasn’t until we were in a pandemic, seeing the horrible killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd…I think it just caused everybody to stop and have no choice but to face it. I put the song on my Instagram as a way to be like, “Hey, I see you, I know what you’re going through” to the little bit of a following that I had, and it’s just gone from there. It’s insane to me that I had no plan, I had no marketing, anything, and it went from that to me being nominated for a Grammy, and then singing at the Grammys. My mind is blown.
What would you say to young Black women and girls looking to make it in country music?
You know, I have been pursuing country music for a very, very long time, and I wasn’t really making any true progress. To be perfectly honest, I was pandering to an audience and just trying to be accepted in a genre that I don’t think was going to ever accept me. And I had to stop that way of thinking and realize that the only way that I can make it in this industry is by holding the door open for other Black women, for other women and people of color and other marginalized people. There’s power in numbers, right? If you look at the country charts right now, it’s almost all men, which is a huge issue for me. I just want to open doors, burn down that “good old boys’” town, and make it more of an inclusive genre, because so many people would love it if they were given the chance to be able to sing it.
Last question: What’s one thing you love, and one thing you hope to see change, about country music?
I love the storytelling and the honesty of country music; it hasn’t been there for a very long time, and I’ve really missed true storytelling. That is why I fell in love with this genre—a lot of it has been left out, and I want to see more people of color, more LGBTQ+ artists, because their dreams are just as important as everybody else’s. That’s what I want to see change.
This conversation has been edited and condensed.