OK. So I'm probably the ONE black guy who listens to country music now and then. Not all of it. And that guy on the left is Charley Pride, the most successful black country music artist of all times.
Just a few artists, primarily female artists: Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill/Tim McGraw, and Lee Ann Womack. Well, Tim's a male. They make country cool, and they're progressive artists in the genre not promoting war or confederate "good ole days" lifestyles.
So every now and then I'd click on KZLA 93.9 in L.A. to hear an occasional song or two that I liked. Until this weekend, when I was greeted with the sound of J-Lo, Madonna, Nelly Furtado, and Black Eyed Peas. I figured it was just a station format change, like stations often do. Though I was a little shocked. It was the only country outlet in L.A.
Well, it WAS an official format switch (L.A. Times story). Again, not a major deal. Demographics are changing in major cities, and country does way better in places like Indiana and Nebraska and South Dakota. That's the theme of the news story.
However, one fan's response to the format change was quite eye-opening, and well just a little not too open-minded. As quoted in the L.A. Times story listed above, after Keith Urban transitioned into Black Eyed Peas, one listener said, "I almost threw up, I was so upset," said longtime KZLA listener and Mission Viejo resident Ruth Rogers, 53. "I think it's racist. This is becoming a nation of minorities... Country music promotes patriotism and family values, and they've replaced it with something that just promotes money and hate."
Uh, well I wouldn't go that far. But it does say a lot about what's really in the minds of some folks.
The good thing is that L.A. residents can still get their share of blues on KKJZ. Blues tells the same kind of stories as country, but with a little more diversity of listeners and artists.
But for the meantime, there's no more country in L.A.