Miko Marks talks tour with Rissi Palmer, unveils ‘Still Here’ music video from PBS documentary

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WOUB) – The music business has long been blighted by blatant racism, sexism, and ageism — and as a Black woman in country music, who released her first album in her mid-30s, Miko Marks valiantly sailed against the gale winds of all three.

Marks’ first two albums, 2005’s Freeway Bound and 2007’s It Feels Good, were met with glowing critical reception; in a review of the latter record, AllMusic’s Stewart Mason raved that “Marks has a wider range both tonally and emotionally than many female country singers, who are more easily locked into a certain predetermined style” and the album “clicks on every level.”

Her music video for Freeway Bound single “Mama,” starred Erykah Badu — a global superstar, and dear friend that she encountered while they were students at Grambling State University, whom Miko invited into her singing group.

Unfortunately, the enthusiasm of music critics was not matched by support for Marks from country music industry gatekeepers. Meanwhile, another Black female country artist – who was a decade her junior — made her Grand Ole Opry debut weeks before Marks released her sophomore album.

Rissi Palmer’s Opry debut was soon succeeded by Rissi’s very first single, “Country Girl,” landing her on the Billboard Hot Country Songs in the fall of 2007… for perspective, the last Black female to notch on this chart whatsoever was Dona Mason in 1987 (for “Green Eyes [Cryin’ Those Blue Tears]”). This sequence of events — and Palmer’s own subsequent break and resurgence — is depicted in the new PBS American Masters documentary, Rissi Palmer: Still Here, now available for streaming on WOUB Passport.

It would’ve been easy for Marks to succumb to industry pressure to perceive Palmer as bitter competition for a rare spotlight on Black women in country music. However, young Palmer was moved by Miko taking the opposite approach – Rissi recalled to WOUB that she was stunned to find flowers with well-wishes from Miko, whom she hadn’t yet met, in her Grand Ole Opry dressing room. These unforeseen blooms planted the seeds for an enduring friendship; and 15 years later, Palmer shocked Marks onstage with the news of Miko’s long-awaited Opry debut, immediately after they performed a tribute to The Judds at the venerated venue. (Check out WOUB’s most recent interview with Wynonna Judd here.)

This long-awaited debut would take place in the month that Marks turned 50; and WOUB’s Ian Saint was backstage and in the audience of the Grand Ole Opry to capture the action.

The last chapter of Rissi Palmer: Still Here depicts Marks joining Palmer for the Long Road Festival in Great Britain. They performed their duet, also titled “Still Here,” to a rapturous crowd; and they’ve just released a music video, sourced from that performance, before they embark on a co-headlining tour. The “Still Here” music video can be streamed in the YouTube widget, below.

WOUB’s Ian Saint met Marks in Nashville, two days before her Grand Ole Opry debut in October, to chronicle the rollercoaster of emotions that she experienced from Palmer’s surprise through showtime.

A promotional graphic for Miko Marks and Rissi Palmer's upcoming musical performances together.
They discussed how Miko’s grandmother acquainted her with the country music that she carried to Michigan during the Great Migration, the long arc of her Opry history before finally making her debut, the significance of coming “full circle” with the Oak Ridge Boys on her Opry bill, her later-in-life entry to the music business, the serendipitous blend of circumstances that ended her long moratorium of making records, the transformation of her decades-long friendship with Erykah Badu, and much more.

Click the Play button in the SoundCloud widget, beneath the headline, to stream the segment on-demand.

Miko & Rissi’s tour commences on Wednesday, May 3. For tour dates and tickets, visit or “Rissi Palmer: Still Here,” in PBS American Masters: In the Making, is available for on-demand streaming to WOUB Passport supporters: