Miko Marks’ album Our Country (via Redtone Records) started with a dream - an actual, literal dream. A songwriter by trade, Marks’ own project has largely taken a backseat over the past decade, as early success and heartbreak in her career made her somewhat disillusioned with the music industry at large. A prolific songwriter, originally from Flint, Michigan and now residing in Oakland, California, Marks stands as a powerful embodiment of the underrepresented voices of Black women in country music specifically and a strong reminder of where the music is rooted. The morning after she awoke from a dream in which she recorded an album with co-producers Steve Wyreman (Jay-Z, John Legend, Rihanna, Leon Bridges) and Justin Phipps (Founder of Redtone Records), a vision of what she was meant to do snapped into focus. In the following months, the trio took a look at what was happening in the country they all loved and penned songs reflecting hard truths and the expansive emotions they were all feeling. Wyreman and Phipps also offered their musical talents with their band “The Resurrectors” (the Redtone Records house band) becoming Marks’ backing band for the album. The resulting work is a genre-fluid tapestry of songs woven together by Marks’ distinctive vocals. Rooted in sounds from country, blues, soul, and roots music, Our Country refuses to be put squarely into one box.
While Miko Marks' is no newcomer, Our Country is her first album in 12 years so her name may be fresh to the uninformed. In 2003, Marks made her way to Music City - Nashville, TN playing CMA Fest year after year and fully immersing herself in the country music community. While Marks received well-deserved accolades - "Nashville's Hottest New Country Star" by People Magazine and "Best New Country Artist" by New Music Weekly - her efforts to be fully embraced by the industry in returned proved to be elusive. While her crowd of supporters grew year after year, so did efforts from the industry to diminish her success. "In trying to pursue the gates of Nashville, I discovered that there were high fences made of stone," Marks said of her experience in the early 2000s. She recalls "rules" for being able to play the largest CMA Fest showcases, those of which contained criteria nearly impossible to achieve for independent artists like herself. This experience ultimately led her to pick up her life and move to California and start anew, never giving up on the dream she was devoted to.
Miko Marks proves to be a bonafide maverick that has blazed an unprecedented trail in the music industry. After a long overdue hiatus from music, Marks is eager to spread not only her music, but a message of unity and outspokenness for black musicians in country music and beyond. She has done much more than just make a splash and now she is ready to make waves. Marks works towards an ever evolving dream of creating art that is not stereotyped or pigeonholed by a specific genre and is created with no borders or boundaries.
Our Country is out now.