Rissi Palmer, a Durham-based singer and songwriter, said she started her radio show as a way to find something to do during the pandemic, and to help other artists of color along the way.
She never expected any accolades for the show, “Color Me Country,” but now they’re flooding in all the same.
Palmer has spent more than a decade in the country music industry. This month, it’s her work as a radio show host that has garnered national recognition.
“Color Me Country” landed Rissi a spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s annual “Future 25” list, which celebrates 25 people who are changing and innovating the music industry.
“I was really floored, to be honest,” she told The News & Observer Wednesday about making the list.
In describing the Future 25 honorees, Rolling Stone writes, “From AI artists and bedroom beatmaking to cryptocurrency concert tickets and virtual-reality festivals, here are the next great waves poised to overtake the strange, twisty business of hit-making.”
Palmer said she knew of others featured in the list, including singer Jason Derulo (dubbed the “Crown Prince of TikTok”), actress/producer Lena Waithe (who founded Hillman Grad Records) and a slew of label heads, music moguls and entrepreneurs.
She said she screamed with excitement when she heard the news that she, too, was on the list.
“It just blows my mind that I get to be one of those people now,” she said.
Rolling Stone notes Palmer’s success with her biweekly Apple Music radio show in which she spotlights Black, Indigenous and Latinx histories of country music and invites on underrepresented voices from the industry.
In addition to her radio show work, Palmer started The Color Me Country Artist Fund, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars to support artists of color pursuing careers in the country industry.
For her work to elevate the voices of Black country artists and other artists of color, Palmer was recognized as The News & Observer’s April Tar Heel of the Month — an honor that recognizes those who have made significant contributions to North Carolina and the region.
Palmer said she hopes those who learn about her work now will realize “it’s never too late for a second act.”
“This isn’t my first time in the business. I’ve been doing this since I was 19 years old, and there’s been so many near misses,” Palmer said. “The thing that has kept me going is the fact that I absolutely love what I do. I love music. I love entertainment. I love country music. I love doing this.”
She laughed, adding she never expected any of this to come from “talking.”
“Maybe the success doesn’t come to you in the way you’ve always envisioned it,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean that’s the end.”