Directed by Dilsey Davis.
In Rissi Palmer: Still Here, Grammy–nominated country artist and radio host Rissi Palmer redefines success as she works on her latest album while uplifting other artists of color in the Americana genres.
Tony Award–winning actress and singer Audra McDonald hosted the broadcast premiere of American Masters: In the Making on Friday, March 24, 2023 on PBS. The full episode is available to stream above as well as on pbs.org/americanmasters and the PBS App.
Rissi Palmer is an American country music artist. While she made her mark in Country Music, she is equally at home in R&B music, bringing the entire spectrum of popular music to bear on music she calls “Southern Soul.”
The daughter of Georgia natives, Rissi was born near Pittsburgh, PA and spent her adolescent years in St. Louis, Missouri. Rissi was raised in a musical family that loved both country and R&B. Rissi’s mother, who died when Rissi was seven was a huge fan of Patsy Cline. At the age of 16, Rissi joined a singing and dancing troupe sponsored by a local television station and by the time she was 19 years old, she had already been offered her first publishing and label deal.
At 27, she released her debut album Rissi Palmer, charting singles, “Country Girl,” “Hold On To Me,” and “No Air.” Everything seemed to be going well. She signed a modeling contract with IMG, hosted a pilot travel show, sang at the Grand Ole Opry and was about to buy a house. But unfortunately, the upward climb spiraled downward very fast. Her band called her to say the record label hadn’t paid them in six months and she when she tried to get out of the label and the company refused to let her go. A host of other financial issues imposed by the label forced her to file for bankruptcy at 28 forcing Rissi to move to Cincinnati, OH with her father and step-mother. While in Ohio, Rissi connected with a man she met on a cruise 4 years before who would become her husband. Rissi moved to NC and started over as an independent artist.
Rissi has independently released a Christmas single, her first children’s album, Best Day Ever and an EP titled The Back Porch Sessions. Her most recent album, Revival, was released in 2019 and has been critically hailed as her most personal and uplifting work to date.
A few highlights throughout her musical career includes performances at The White House, Lincoln Center and the Grand Ole Opry. She has toured extensively across the country, sharing stages with Taylor Swift, The Eagles, Chris Young, Charley Crockett and many more. Rissi has made national guest appearances on Oprah & Friends, CNN, CBS Early Show, Entertainment Tonight, FOX Soul's "The Book of Sean," and the Tavis Smiley Show, and has been featured in such prestigious media outlets as Associated Press, Ebony, Essence, Huffington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, NPR's "All Things Considered," PEOPLE, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, to name a few.
As a passionate voice for country artists of color and those who have been marginalized in mainstream country music, Rissi launched her own radio show Color Me Country with Rissi Palmer on Apple Music Country. Since making its debut in August 2020, listeners have been treated to in-depth and riveting, often funny, yet very necessary conversations with artists such as Brittney Spencer, Chapel Hart, Crystal Shawanda, Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Miko Marks, The War and Treaty and many more. In conjunction with her radio show, Rissi also created the Color Me Country Artist Grant Fund designed to support new country artists of color who are just beginning to build their music careers. Rissi is currently working on her next album entitled Survivor’s Joy.
For the broadcast of American Masters: In the Making, Executive Producers are Leslie Fields-Cruz, Denise Greene, Michael Kantor, Monika Navarro, Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith. The broadcast of In the Making is a production of Firelight Media, in association with American Masters Pictures and Black Public Media. Rissi Palmer: Still Here is a production of Firelight Media and Café con Leche Media, in association with American Masters Pictures and Black Public Media.
Original production funding for In the Making is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.
American Masters series production funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Rosalind P. Walter Foundation, AARP, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Judith and Burton Resnick, Koo and Patricia Yuen, Seton J. Melvin, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, The Marc Haas Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation and public television viewers.