, ,

‘The Black Country Singer’ explains how he fell for the genre after once hating it

Wisconsin's André Lamar details some of his favorite country tunes

Headshot photo of André Lamar, who records as The Black Country Singer
André Lamar, who records as The Black Country Singer, says the beats of country music can catch your attention, but the lyrics are why people stay. Don Hollowell

Growing up in Milwaukee, music was always central to André Lamar’s life. He sang in both his church and high school choirs. 

After graduating from high school, Lamar got into some trouble with the law and served a stint at Dodge Correctional Facility in Waupun. While there, he was at the mercy of the guards regarding what he could listen to. 

To his horror, they only played country music. 

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“You don’t have your own radio. All you have is whatever that guard is playing out there,” Lamar said. “I really wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t like the sound of it.”

Eventually, Lamar forced himself to listen closely to the songs without judgment. He heard something he loved: the lyrics and the stories. Lamar was hooked and soon began scribbling out lyrics for his own songs, which he sang for his cellmate. 

After his release from Dodge, Lamar earned a degree in marketing and started his own company. He began recording as The Black Country Singer. He spoke recently to “Wisconsin Today” about his music and love of country music.

Lamar said his 2014 song “Gone Fishing” is a crowd favorite that has generated interest online. That song is about a romantic partner cheating on the song’s protagonist, but the chorus evokes the joy of escaping your troubles in nature. Lamar loves the song because it reminds him of fishing with his dad and brother on Shawano Lake when he was a kid.

“It was the first song I felt represents me the most,” Lamar said. “My dad was a fisherman. He loved to go fishing with me, my brother. That’s kind of how we live life.” 

Since he has become a country music performer, Lamar has gotten friends and family hooked on the genre. He recommends that newcomers to country music focus on the lyrics and story. 

“The lyrics are what people come for,” he said. “The beat can catch your attention, but the lyrics are what make you stay.” 

Lamar hopes to record a full-length country album this year to be released early in 2025. 

He highlighted for WPR some of his favorite country songs and why he loves them.

The following was edited for brevity and clarity

‘Don’t Take the Girl’ by Tim McGraw

André Lamar: I like the masterful storytelling. I like the way it takes you on a journey with this couple. You see the couple. You understand the couple. And it allows you to feel what the couple is going through. The first time I heard that song, I was in tears. I said to myself, “One day I want to leave a person feeling all of those emotions.” 

‘Forever and Ever, Amen,’ by Randy Travis

AL: I like that he is witty without being witty. It’s a smart song. It’s an emotional song. He’s laying all of his feelings out there for the girl he loves, but he’s not promising to be perfect. My favorite line is, “You wonder how long I’ll be faithful/ Well, just listen to how this song ends/ I’m gonna love you forever and ever/ Forever and ever, amen.” He never actually answers the question but professes his love, to say that’s what matters more than anything. 

‘Whiskey Sour,’ Kane Brown

AL: I like the way that it makes you picture the lives of the characters. It takes you into the stories. 

‘Starting Over’ by Chris Stapleton

AL: Being twice divorced, I know a thing or two about starting over. The way you look at starting over determines the outcome. If you look at starting over like it’s a pain, it’s going to be a pain. If you look at it like it’s going to be new, fresh and exciting, it will be new, fresh and exciting.

‘People Are Crazy’ by Billy Currington

AL: That song talks about being open minded, being able to sit down next to a stranger and have a drink. By the time the drink is done, you don’t feel like a stranger. And you’ll never know who you’ll run into. 

Related Stories