It’s not easy to be named one of People Magazine’s “Nashville’s Hottest New Country Star.” It’s even harder to try to reclaim that title a dozen years later.
Having first arrived in Music City in 2003, for years Miko Marks was making noise in all the right spots. She immersed herself in the community playing all over town, including the CMA Fest in downtown Nashville. Yet, as her legions of fans grew, so did the industry walls she had to climb. According to Marks, 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.
To be fair, it was a different time in 2003. The internet and social media were nowhere near what they are now, and Spotify playlists weren’t even a thing. To be unfair, the early to mid 2000’s were also a different time for artists like Miko Marks. You see, it wasn’t just that she was a woman in country music, she was an African American woman at that.
In the end, it all became too much. Even with all of her accolades and fan base successes, Marks ultimately made the decision to pack up her life and move to California.
These days, the world of country music has changed and so has Marks. Artists aren’t as dependent to major label deals and the exclusionary walls have been kicked and cracked. Of course the late Charley Pride came before her, but artists like Darius Rucker, Jimmie Allen, Mickey Guyton and Kane Brown have blown some doors open since she left as well.
Now, Marks is back and she’s dictating the terms with her first new album in thirteen years, Our Country—a ten-song collection, due out in late March. Marks has pulled the curtain back on a few songs prior to the album’s release and continues to do so with the funky, bluesy and groovy “Hold It Together.”
“Hold It Together” is proof positive that Marks didn’t come back on a whim and she sure as hell has something to say, carrying a message of inner strength. With vocals reminiscent of a young Martina McBride and hints of Jennifer Nettles, Marks and her band, “The Resurrectors,” comprised of her co-producers Steve Wyreman (Jay-Z, John Legend, Rihanna, Leon Bridges) and Justin Phipps (Founder of Redtone Records), hit a high water mark many new artists fail to achieve.
“Hold It Together” was written in 2020 with my good friend and guitarist of 15 years, Victor Campos,” says Marks. “This year has been volatile, uncertain and disheartening to say the least. The pandemic, systemic racism and economic injustice have been at the forefront of our country’s darkest hours. As a divided nation, we cannot stand. We must come together and face our truths, healing our wounds through unity.”