What does country music look like in 2019? For some it’s the ethereal country pop songs of Kacey Musgraves or the classic Carrie Underwood revenge ballad “Before He Cheats.” But for fans who envision a handsome, Christian boy-next-door singing about trucks and beer, their guy is Thomas Rhett. 

It’s not always easy to see the kinship and connection between greats of the past and the greatness we hold within ourselves. But in her works, R&B vocalist and Pushcart literary prize nominated poet, Jamila Woods challenges herself and her listeners to see that connection and to empower themselves through their legacy. This Chicago native has dedicated her art, both literary and musical, to paying homage to people who made her existence possible.

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Sometimes music just happens. In the case of pop singer Sigrid, the opportunity quite literally fell into her lap while studying in Norway. “I wanted to be a teacher, or I wanted to be a lawyer,” she told TIME magazine earlier this year. “I had very specific plans. But then music happened.”

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“I like to play with different genres. I love rock, Latin rhythms, Caribbean rhythms, salsa, reggae… I don’t have limits,” said Pedro Capó in an interview with The Cornell Daily Sun. Capó is an emerging latin pop singer/songwriter, guitarist, and actor with deep roots in music and artistic expression. Hailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Capó has now found success on an international level, bringing his latin style to countries around the world.

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For centuries, music has proven to have an impact on our lives, regardless of whether we like it or not. With the right mixture of tantalizing beats and powerful lyrics, the art of music plays with our imagination and evokes emotions that we may never have known about. Sometimes, just a few simple words in a song can hit us. I would have to say that was the case with rising star, Ava Max.

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As an Atlanta native, reading Lil Nas X’s hilarious tweets and witnessing the success he has enjoyed as a result of his country-rap hit single “Old Town Road,” fills me with an unexpected feeling of kinship and satisfaction. Here in Atlanta it can feel as if wanting to be a rapper is some sort of rite of passage for black men—especially for creatives from low-income backgrounds. I personally know more black men independently pursuing music than I can count on both hands, and it’s a really beautiful form of artistic expression to be surrounded by.

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“I was such a baby,” singer Billie Eilish said with a frown, while watching a recording of herself from last year. The video, titled “Billie Eilish: Same Interview, One Year Apart,” features Eilish in 2018 reacting to a Vanity Fair interview she gave exactly a year prior. “I’m kind of jealous of Billie a year ago,” she muses.

Steven Victor sees the music industry as more than just a numbers game. In the world of Spotify streams and YouTube views, he needs to see the artist as more than just their statistics. As Def Jam’s executive vice president and head of A&R (Artists and Repertoire), Victor is always on the lookout for new talent. He oversees a staff of 20 people responsible for A&R. Together, they’re in charge of the task of finding each new breakout artist the label signs.

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“The philosophy is to keep doing what we’re doing and to enjoy it. We’re coming from a working class background and a working class town, we’ve had to fight and work for everything we’ve got. We’re only getting started man. The fact of the matter is we’re doing a hobby and making it a reality day after day. We’ll just continue to work hard and achieve big things,” said Stevie Jukes in an interview with The Seventh Hex.

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Comfortable in her own skin. Her flaws are purposely revealed on camera for the world to see, and her presentation includes no obvious filters.

I instantly noticed natural black hair with no real formation; pretty dark skin with an occasional trace of acne here and there, no body briefer or any direct restraint to make this black woman appear to be smaller and “in tact.” Instead you get a raw, authentic Nigerian-American woman who looks like someone you may know personally. The self-image that she displays is awe-inspiring, and conveys a message that she has all creative control.

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