For as long as we can remember, many artists have called out for more diversity and inclusivity across multiple creative sectors. The music industry is not any different. And one breakthrough artist, Lea Sweet, also known as the Queen of Country, emphasizes the importance of giving all artists a chance to thrive in music.
“Black country singers have a hard time getting noticed and earning money in the industry, especially if you are born and reared in San Francisco,” shares Lea Sweet. “But I wouldn’t be true to myself or my art if I did not write and produce this country album.” She refers to her debut country album under Sony Orchard, a subsidiary of Sony Music. Entitled Black Queen of Country Music, the album sought to break barriers and show the world that no genre is ever limited to a specific set of people. All can choose what art they love and the theme they flourish in regardless of age, race, gender or background.
Overall, there have only been fifteen African American country singers who have been recognized in the music industry. Some of them have passed on and were never given the recognition they deserved. Lea Sweet hopes to change this by leaving a legacy that will empower African American country singers to boldly celebrate their artistry and work harder to reach the top. As a self-pronounced cowgirl who has a deep passion for country music, it is her earnest hope that her music career will serve as a beacon of hope for many aspiring music artists.
Lea Sweet is nothing short of a music sensation. She’s a San Francisco Bay area-based Grammy Member, nine-time music award winner, and the 2019 NCEM best entertainer of the year. “I love rock & country music—they are my niche!” explains the music prodigy. Lea’s roots and musical influences stem from Macon, Georgia, where her father and uncles all grew up. Listening to their music growing up provided a strong foundation for what would be Lea’s deep appreciation and dedication to a professional music career.
Another artist who served as a role model for Lea Sweet was Tina Turner. She watched the music icon’s performance first when she was only five years old. Since then, Lea knew that music would play a pivotal role in her life as a whole. She became a closet singer for some time until she started singing publicly at 24 years old and turning her poetry into songs. To date, she now has three albums, all professionally recorded and available for public listening.
Lea also joined several productions in her career, such as Motown Legends, Legends of Soul and the Pop, Rock & Soul & Sweet Tina Tribute Casino Tours, performing the best tributes to Tina Turner, Tammi Terrell, The Supremes, The Vandellas, and The Marvelettes. Her exposure to top-notch performers and performances would help hone and polish her musical ability. Pretty soon, Sweet started traveling around the world to perform, flying to countries like Beijing, Portugal, Austria, Italy, Malta, New Mexico, and the Netherlands to share her music with the world.
Fans and music professionals alike have noted Lea Sweet’s sound as distinct, carrying a “unique resonance” which brings together the best of country-soul and country-rock. However, growing in this category proved challenging back in her hometown in San Francisco at first, so she packed her bags and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to find better opportunities.
Today, she uses her voice on behalf of all the artists who show talent and promise but have been shunned because they went against society’s norms. She hopes, especially, that more black artists will find better opportunities in country music, which has been a struggle for many for as long as one can remember.