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Crosscurrents is our award-winning radio news magazine, broadcasting Mondays through Thursdays at 11 a.m. on 91.7 FM. We make joyful, informative stories that engage people across the economic, social, and cultural divides in our community. Listen to full episodes at kalw.org/crosscurrents

Miko Marks on Her New Album and Black Roots in Country Music

Miko Marks
Beto Lopez, Mooncricket Films
Miko Marks

Country singer Miko Marks took a hiatus from the studio that lasted more than a decade. The Oakland-based artist is back with new music and speaking on the need for more diversity in the genre.

June is Black Music Appreciation Month, and that includes country music. The genre has roots in the African-American community. Black artists laid the foundation for country music, but systemic racism pushed Black artists out. Now more Black artists are on the rise in country music.

In [the Black] community there is this thing that country music is for white people. That is so not true because we’re part of the foundational bricks of the genre.

Country singer Miko Marks is back with her first album in more than a decade. It’s called “Our Country.” The Oakland-based singer’s career was taking off when she debuted onto the country music scene in the early 2000’s. But the racism she experienced as a Black woman and pressures to change her image made her disillusioned with the music industry. So she stepped away and just stuck to performing. A dream inspired her to return to the studio and record with the local independent label Redtone Records. Miko talks about the need for the country music industry to open the door for more artists of color and her new album.

Jeneé Darden is an award-winning journalist, author, public speaker and proud Oakland native. She is the executive producer and host of the weekly arts segment Sights & Sounds as well as the series Sights + Sounds Magazine. Jeneé also covers East Oakland for KALW. Jeneé has reported for NPR, Marketplace, KQED, KPCC, The Los Angeles Times, Ebony magazine, Refinery29 and other outlets. In 2005, she reported on the London transit bombings for Time magazine. Prior to coming to KALW, she hosted the podcast Mental Health and Wellness Radio.