February 18, 2024

#BlackCountryBae: Tanner Adell

Credit: Mark Zaleski / The Tennessean
Happy Black History Month, fam! Today's Black country bae is Kentucky-born singer and songwriter Tanner Adell.

Now, I just recently learned about Tanner through the Black Alt Mag Facebook page, via a comment under the Chapel Hart (see how we work together)? I challenge you: Google this woman right now. There's next to nothing on her.

Overnight, Tanner has become a country favorite of mine, even as her detractors swear she isn't "really country". We seem to  be hearing a lot of that lately by people who really don't want Black women in country music. Which sucks for them because there are plenty of Black women already in country music and have been since Black people created country music.

Aside for being an obvious stunner, Tanner brings sultry yet strong vocals, snarky lyrics, and a defiant attitude to the game. Which is necessary, because apparently the trolls just won't leave her alone. In fact, they kept calling her a "buckle bunny" to the point she simply embraced the term and dropped a song.



Now, if Tanner reminds you of Beyonce, that's deliberate; Tanner is a big Beyonce fan and longs to do a collaboration with the legend herself. Tanner incorporates pop into her country sound and has made it very clear she's very much trying to "pave her own lane" in the industry and has no desire to meet other people's standards of what country should sound like. So like every other Black country artist I'm following right now, she's got quite the uphill battle.

Adell's success will be linked to how quickly country music is willing to accept that her brand of music is fundamentally built within the genre's familiar lifestyle tropes of faith, family and fun.

In recent generations, pop artists have failed at leading the mainstream into country music.

They have not succeeded because, in eras before streaming and digital-first culture, they were frozen out of top-tier, peak-visible access to the genre's lily-white and comfortably homogenized pinnacle.

Yes, Tanner Adell has only 360,000 followers between Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. However, on TikTok alone, she has achieved over 5.8 million likes on her posts, plus nearly 400 million views associated with her name on the platform.

For comparison's sake, that's 60 percent more views than Top-10 charting breakout Academy of Country Music New Female Artist of the Year nominee -- and fellow Sony-affiliated label-mate -- Megan Moroney.

 - Marcus K. Dowling / The Tennessean

I'd like to point out really quickly here that Chapel Hart performs so-called "old school" country music and yet they're not having much success either. Moving on....



Like Chapel Hart, Tanner Adell has a growing base of enthusiastic fans who, betwixt and between their adoring comments, want to know why she's not a big star yet. And it's interesting to me because I first started this blog back in 2009, and in the fifteen years I worked on it...nothing's really changed for Black artists.

For example, three months ago, Tanner dropped "Backroad". It's my favorite song by her; I literally listen to it on repeat. All her fans love it; yet after three months, it only has fifty-eight thousand views when it is, in fact, a very catchy, listenable bop. This should be on repeat on radio stations nationwide. It should be featured on shows and in films. I could see Tanner being signed off this track alone. So what gives?



Anyways...y'all know the drill. Follow Tanner Adell on Instagram, Tiktok, and X (if you're still into that). The mainstream may not give Tanner her flowers, but we can.

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