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Miko Marks:  Oakland’s Country Music Star

Her first country music memory growing up was of Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.  She adds that Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” was her mother’s anthem.

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Miko Marks. Photo by Beto Lopez, Mooncricket Films.

Miko Marks, 48, released her third album, “Our Country” in March.

The virtual release party was free, and donations were encouraged to benefit The Center for Hope in Flint, Michigan where Marks grew up.

Marks told ABC 7 News that “Our Country” was about “ . . . healing, social justice, prayer, system racism, marginalization, and it’s about hope to change.”

It has been 14 years since her last album release.  Her previous albums were “Freeway Bound” in 2005 and “It Feels Good” in 2007.

Marks co-wrote six of the eight songs on “Our Country”.

Her first country music memory growing up was of Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.  She adds that Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” was her mother’s anthem.

According to SongData, “ . . . between 2002-2020, there were 11,484 unique songs played on country radio.  In those 19 years, there were only 13 Black artists among those songs, and only three Black women.  In total, songs by Black women received 0.03% of radio airplay.”

The Pointer Sisters in 1974 with “Fairytale,” also Oakland based,  and Mickey Guyton in 2021 with “Black Like Me’ are the only Black women to be nominated in a country category in the Grammy awards.

Marks spent time in Nashville where she heard “you won’t sell” without explanation, and she understood that was code for Blacks don’t sell in Country music.   She moved to  Oakland and was excited to collaborate with Redtone Records in Palo Alto to record.

Marks notes that country music has its roots in Black music and the banjo is from the African continent.

Marks gives shout outs to the other Black women in country music:  Linda Martell, Jo Anna Neel, Ruby Falls, and Rissa Palmer.  Palmer, Reyna Roberts, Brittney Spencer, and Mickey Guyton joined Marks in a round-table discussion of Black women in country music published in the New York Times during Women’s History Month this year.

“Oakland has been a refuge of community for me. The people, the arts and the culture helped shape me as an artist.  It has allowed me to weave to into the fabric of country music my influences that extend outside the genre.

“The Oakland Post has been a foundation for the community and highlighting the arts.” Marks told The Oakland Post,

For more information go to MikoMarks.com

Wikipedia, The Wall Street Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The New York Times were sources for this story.

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