(lively opera music) (lively opera music continues) - Opera's a culmination of every emotion being expressed and poured out through the unamplified voice.
For me, it's my best way of communication.
My name is J'Nai Bridges and I'll be playing three songs.
All artists go through phases where we doubt ourselves.
2020 was catastrophic on so many levels.
I've had these thoughts I'm singing all over the world doing what I love, and my people are being lynched publicly.
- Why opera specifically?
And what drives to keep on going?
- I think of the shoulders I stand upon.
Black opera singers were able to break through those barriers and use their voice.
There were times when I was learning the piece where I just had to stop singing and cry.
It was just like nobody should have to go through this.
People want to see themselves and feel like their stories are being told.
(gentle music) - [Announcer] Please make welcome Rissi Palmer, everybody.
- Oh my God, I'm so excited to be here tonight.
In 2007, I became the first Black woman in 20 years to be on the Billboard Country charts.
All these good things are happening, and in the background, I was signing documents and not understanding the ramifications of what I was signing.
I just trusted blindly.
I lost my Master's, I lost my website.
It was like I hadn't existed.
- She's seen the ugliness of all of that and still is strong enough to stand up and say "no, I'm an artist.
I do music.
This is who I am."
- It would've been really easy for her to abandon her aspirations of being a country music artist or being influential in this country space, but instead, she used it as fuel for her fire.
- The biggest advantage of being an independent artist is that I don't have to answer to anybody for anything that I wanna do, I can just do it.
And so I'm kind of at a place in my career where I'm just trying to figure out how do we get wins on the board?
I have to try every day to take the pressure off of myself that there is no such thing as perfect.
There is no perfect mom.
There is no perfect artist.
I'm trying to lead by example, because otherwise, I don't see it.
I don't know how anybody else is gonna get through.
- My name is Rissi Palmer and what you are about to see for the next six artists is the Color Me Country Radio takeover stage.
- Her star, I just see it like rising, and so much of it is because she's lifting others up.
- Rissi's always had a singing voice.
Rissi has her voice now.
She's not building fame, she's building legacies.
- [Rissi] When I'm not in the room, I want something that remains, that matters.
♪ I'm still here through the mud and tears ♪ ♪ Trying to make me ♪ (dramatic music)