black history month

Musicians Making History in Dallas-Fort Worth

From country to classical, North Texans are being heard

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The music of Texas is as diverse as the people who live here. And as we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we take some time to showcase some of the new talent emerging in Dallas-Fort Worth from country to classical.

Born in Arlington and raised in Texas, Mickey Guyton has been called one of the "new queens of country music."

The singer-songwriter's 2020 hit "Black Like Me" made her a history maker. Guyton is now the first Black solo female artist to be nominated in a country category at the Grammy Awards.

Quinn Mason is one to watch in classical music. The Dallas ISD graduate is considered to be one of the most sought-after young composers in the country.
He was 10 and found classical music on his own listening to the radio. Mason, 24, hopes his success creates space for others to follow.

"I have a vision that I will be a role model to other young African American kids who want to make a career in classical music. My message is you, you can do this and you can feel comfortable doing it, like me," he said.

Afton Battle found her voice in opera - first in performing and now as the General Director of Fort Worth Opera. She came on board last fall with a vision as big as her home state - take opera into the community and welcome all voices to the stage and into the audience.

"This is my vision at Fort Worth Opera, an equitable institution who sees everyone, who celebrates our diversities," Battle said.

"She's done some amazing things," said Tom Martens, creative director for Visit Fort Worth and also with the music association Hear Fort Worth.

"When people think of Fort Worth as a western town, our number one musician right now is Leon Bridges and that's not western, "Martens said, "It's bridging the gap of what we have in this city."

Cowtown gave the music world the soul of Leon Bridges and the Grammy Award-winning gospel of Kirk Franklin.

Bryson Cole hopes his style of rap also brings messages around positivity and inspiration.

"One of my songs, 'Prosper,' that one did really good. The whole song was made in 15 minutes but it was about prospering and not letting your demons or your enemies hold you down. Another song was 'Elevate.' And the whole song was about coming from pain to peace which is a recurring theme in a lot of my music," Cole said.

The Dallas rapper, 22, recently changed his tune as he gains fans from Texas to Canada to Portugal.

"I had put out one of my first all-out clean tracks, and I noticed a lot of kids were gravitating to it. Older adults were gravitating to it. And I'm like, 'Man, I'm excluding a big part of my audience if I curse in my music.' So I was like, 'I can make it clean'," he said. "So I was like, 'This is exactly where I'm supposed to be, and it doesn't exclude anybody. Everybody can listen to my music. and, it brings in a new audience that maybe didn't listen to rap originally."

Cole is making music on his own with no label to back him. The internet and social media sites expose him to an international fan base. Cole is convinced he's on the path to success.

"It's not monetary. It is all peace of mind. So if I can wake up every day, make music and still make a living off that, that is success to me," he said.

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