BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT: Gary Clark Jr. THIS LAND
By February 2019, Gary Clark Jr. had enough. It didn't matter that he was a Grammy-winning recording artist renowned around the world as one of the brightest and best guitar players of his generation. Simply being a black man in America was the spark of his brilliant protest record, This Land, released in February 2019. The album found Clark leaning into the state of the nation in the time following the election of Donald Trump as the American president in 2016. Resonate with righteous anger and an ambitious broadening of his blue-rock sound, the bold studio effort was greeted with rave reviews from critics and fans alike, soaring to a peak position of #6 on the Billboard 200 in March 2019.
Helping bolster those album sales was an electric appearance on Saturday Night Live, heralded by many as the best of the entire 2018-2019 season. Performing the title track and standout track, "Pearl Cadillac," it was a reminder to many that Clark is so much more than "just' a transcendental guitar star.
This Land was released was more than a year before the exact same sentiments found in the album's grooves would erupt across America as the Black Lives Matter movement rose up to stake a claim for justice in this country.
"In 2019, I'm just tired of it," Clark told FLOOD magazine in 2019. "I've been not saying anything. But how am I supposed to teach my kid to be strong and confident and somebody that's worthy of anything if I don't speak up? This music is for them. The whole point is to teach these young ones to get rid of the hate and teach 'em how to love. That's all I'm trying to say."
At the Grammys, This Land took the award for Best Contemporary Blues album. The song "This Land" earned wins in both the Best Rock Rock Song and Best Rock Performance categories.