[The following is from the official press release.]
Five Black artists from around the U.S. have been selected for the first Black Opry Residency, a creative development project partnership between Philadelphia public radio station WXPN and The Black Opry platform for Black musicians and Black fans of Americana music.
Announced in November 2022, WXPN’s Black Opry Residency supports and spotlights up-and-coming Black performers whose original music is rooted in country, bluegrass, folk, blues, gospel, alternative country, and singer-songwriter genres, collectively known as Americana. Applications were open to Black artists aged 21+ who possess a minimum of three years of professional performing and recording experience, and who are currently without label recording contracts.
Of the approximately 100 artists who applied, these five were selected based on the overall excellence and quality of their work encompassing songwriting craft, lyrics, and production, and consideration for the point at which they are in their careers:
- Songwriter and performer Tylar Bryant, a Texas native now based in Nashville who marries modern and traditional country music with rock and pop grooves
- Soulful singer-songwriter Denitia, a Nashville-based artist whose poetic lyrics and retrospective music exhibits elements of country and folk
- Grace Givertz,a Boston-based folk artist and multi-instrumentalist whose witty and honest lyrics bring a refreshing energy and sound to folk music
- Nashville-based twin brothers Brandon and Derek Campbell, who harmonize, write and perform as The Kentucky Gentlemen, creating a captivating blend of pop, country and R&B
- Samantha Rise, a Philadelphia-based teacher, activist, performer and songcatcher whose inclusive music evoking their myriad experiences is rooted in indie folk
Submission evaluations and final selections were made by respected music industry professionals Holly G., founder of the Black Opry; singer-songwriter and Apple Music Country Color Me Country host Rissi Palmer; singer-songwriter Miko Marks; producer and musician Nathan Tempro; and the project’s executive producers, WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay and Program Director Bruce Warren.
“What’s exciting about this residency is that it tests a model for directly supporting artist development and the creation of new work,” said Palmer. Warren added, “It amplifies WXPN’s well-established track record of producing mission-aligned programming focused on elevating new and significant artists, and we believe it to be the only project of its kind produced by a major metropolitan radio station.”
Following virtual preparatory meetups and workshops, the Black Opry Residency will take place in Philadelphia from March 18-24, when the residents/artists will share their music with invited mentors and each other through collaborative sessions. The creative immersion will culminate in a public finale performance on March 24 at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, highlighting both individual new work and their collective talents as an ensemble. A podcast documenting the project and the participants’ creative processes is being produced by award-winning audio and radio documentary producer Alex Lewis.
Support for the Black Opry Residency is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia.
Featured image: Denitia – Photo by Noelle Fries