With his signature fringed Lone Ranger mask and velvety crooner voice, musician Orville Peck picked himself up by his bootstraps and stomped all over his competition in the Country music scene. Ever since the release of his debut album Pony, a melancholy collection of 12 Southern rock tracks released under Sub Pop records in March 2019, Peck stands neck-and-neck with rising icons in the music industry such as Lil Nas X and Kacey Musgraves. So who is the man behind the mask? Or, rather, what is the man behind the mask trying to say? 

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Imagine being a part of a breakout country music duo whose debut album has a chart-topping hit that is 3rd on the Billboard country music charts. Imagine, at only eighteen years old, going on tour with popular country music singer Brad Paisley and feeling on top of the world as you work on your sophomore album. Then without warning, your record label goes belly-up. If you think that is one of the worst things that could happen to an up and coming artist, you’d be right. But that’s exactly what happened to Madison “Maddie” Marlow Font and Taylor “Tae” Dye of the group Maddie & Tae

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What is the color of country music? Is it a brown acoustic and a red solo cup? Is it a patriotic red, white, and blue? When you think of country music, do you only think of Caucasian artists? All of the Country Music Association Awards' “Entertainer of the Year” winners for the past 10 years have been white. There was Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, George Strait, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, and Blake Shelton. In fact, the CMAAs has given "Entertainer of the Year," to a white performer consistently dating all the way back to 1971 when Charley Pride received the award. Modern award shows are often marred by racist controversies and outcomes. However, at the 2020 Grammys, blues singer Gary Clark Jr. asserted his stature within the Country music genre.

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According to Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, he certainly remembers what sparked his interest in pursuing music, and in great detail at that. He never forgets where it came from, and this humbleness is a testament to his character. His ascension as one of the most recognizable names and faces in classical music comes from his hard work, his personality, and of course what some would call luck, but I call it maximizing his opportunities. 

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The Culture Creators’ 2019 “Innovators and Leaders” award recipient Kevin Lee or “Coach K,” is redefining the current era of rap and hip-hop music. Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of the Atlanta-based and black-owned indie record label Quality Control Music, Coach K has a dream to make not only the record label but Atlanta into a force to be reckoned with.

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