Hopefully you’re watching Ken Burns’ landscape-altering film Country Music. It’s animated by a love for the genre coupled with a critical eye for historical realities — many unpleasant, painful and damning. It teaches that there was never one unbroken path from Jimmie Rodgers to now, and that the regressions and shifts arrived both cynically and naturally, from the boardroom to the grassroots. As importantly it shows that where we are now is the product of previously lightly-considered social forces — most notably the profound contributions to Country from Black, Mexican and women artists.
For those of you who have begun it, you’ll know that the twin poles of the program are Texas and Nashville, and here we’re featuring an artist from each. Both Kathryn Legendre and Tanya Montana Coe speak with a sharp-edged, easy eloquence for tradition, creativity, possibility and equality. They have much good to say and to represent about the genre’s past and future. Ms. Legendre’s most-recent EP Making It Up is available on her Bandcamp page, while Ms. Coe’s just-released Hide Your Emotion can be found on hers.