black women

Pop Culture

A new viral R&B version of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' is such a beautiful mood setter

It's like a completely new, equally good version of the all-time classic.

Representative Image from Canva, Dolly Parton/Youtube

Brb, listening to this 100x on repeat

As Rolling Stone announced that Beyoncé just became the first Black woman artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, let’s keep the celebration of Black women busting through barriers in the genre going, why not?

Singer/songwriter and producer NYA, aka @nya.w0rld on TikTok, has given her followers all kinds of R&B versions of well known songs from artists like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Avril Lavine. She’s even R&B-ified theme songs from popular television shows like “Friends.”

But it’s her recent R&B ballad of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” that’s so good, people are hoping it finds its way to the Queen of Country herself.

At the start of the clip, NYA asks her viewers if they’re familiar with the 70s hit, leading into “what would it be like if it was an R&B song?”

NYA proceeds to effortlessly glides through a flurry of high and low notes and a percussive beat plays in the background.

Suffice it to say, even in a sea of “Jolene” covers, NYA delivers a completely new version of the song.


@nya.w0rld because not enough of you heard the first vrsn of JOLENE that i did #fypp #throwbacksongs #jolene #dollyparton ♬ original sound - NYA

Over 5 million people have watched the video, and that’s not taking into account the other social media platforms that it's been shared to, and many began plotting how this cover could be shared with Parton.

“Someone put this on a cassette player and send it to Dolly Parton,” one fan said.

Another joked “Does anyone have Dolly’s fax number?” referencing the country icon’s famous preference for old school communication.

Perhaps, besides just being a bona fide banger, what makes NYA’s cover resonate so much with listeners is that we are beginning to have a more mainstream conversation about how country music, despite it being rooted in multiple cultures, has predominantly been catered to a white audience.

Those lines are being rightfully blurred now, as more country songs by non-white artists make it into the spotlight, and through meaningful collaborations, such as the iconic Grammys duet of “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs.

That’s one of the many great things about music, isn’t it? A song means so much more than the story its lyrics tell. It encapsulates a moment in time. And what this “Jolene” cover seems to contain within it is a merging of new and old in a way that’s oh so timely and important.

From students with dreadlocks being denied the right to walk in their own graduations to news anchors being fired from their jobs for the way their hair grows naturally out of their heads, black hair has long been treated as controversial. That's one reason why Hair Love, the 6-minute short film from written and directed by Matthew A. Cherry, has captivated audiences since its release last August.

But unnecessary controversy and injustice surrounding black people's hair isn't the only reason this film has gotten so much attention.

On the surface,Hair Love is a story about styling black hair, but it's also about so much more than that. It's a beautiful story of family, of determination on the part of a young girl and her father, of love and caregiving and hope—a story vividly and powerfully told without any of the main characters directly speaking a word. After watching it, it's clear why it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. It's a brilliant and moving piece of storytelling, totally deserving of all the accolades.

(Seriously with the tissue, though. You'll start off laughing at the cat's side-eye, but you'll want a hanky handy at the end.)


If you were to imagine a typical firefighter, chances are you'd picture a white man in firefighting gear—and there's a good reason for that. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 96% of career firefighters in the U.S. are male and 82% are white. Firefighting has long been a white male dominated field for various reasons—but in some places that's starting to shift.

Meet the newest firefighters of Prince George's County, Maryland, who are flipping the image of a stereotypical firefighter on its head. A viral Instagram photo shared by BecauseOfThem shows eight black female firefighters posing in their gear, looking like fierce firefighting goddesses.

Do these women actually fight fire with fire? Because fire is all we see here.

RELATED: People argue that women aren't strong enough to be firefighters. Here's why they're wrong.

The photo is striking, partially because it's simply not what we're not used to seeing in an image of firefighters. Why fire departments are so heavily white male dominated is a question without a clear answer, but one cities have started exploring. For example, the Los Angeles Times looked into the LAFD's efforts to increase the department's diversity to more closely represent the demographics of the community it serves. Those efforts have largely failed, but why? Is it a self-perpetuating issue of representation? Is it a problem with bias or nepotism in hiring or recruiting? Is it that women and/or non-white Americans aren't interested in being firefighters? A little of all of the above?

On possible reason for Prince George's County's influx of black female firefighters might be who it hired as fire chief. Tiffany Green, former deputy chief, took over the department as acting fire chief this summer after her predecessor retired. She is the first female to lead the department, and she happens to be black as well.

Research shows that representation makes a difference in education and in media, so it's not a stretch to think that it matters in various career fields as well. If people don't see themselves reflected in certain professions, they may not even think to pursue those professions. Women have faced a lack of representation in many fields, as more women have entered the work force in full-time careers in the past couple of generations. But some fields, such as nursing, have had to overcome a lack of male representation as well.

The more we challenge the stereotypes of what certain professions look like, the easier it will be for all kids to imagine themselves in any career.

This month, two basketball referees made sports history.

Danielle Scott and Angelica Suffren became the first two black women to referee an NBA game, making for an intersectional feminist win.

Marc J. Spears, a senior writer for ESPN's The Undefeated, noticed the women during the July 3 summer league game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

After Twitter users applauded the women, NBA spokesman Mike Bass confirmed that the news was indeed a historic moment in NBA history.

It comes more than two decades after one of the first barriers in women's refereeing was broken.

In 1997, Violet Palmer shattered the glass ceiling by becoming the league's first woman referee. On October 31 of the same year, she became the first woman to officiate an NBA game, a match between the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks.

Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images.

Women have been quietly breaking barriers in the league for years, and this type of representation is needed now more than ever.

As women demand equality in all athletic roles — pay, leadership opportunities, and respect — it's imperative that women are represented in all levels of sport professions, including sports management, sports journalism, and game officiating.

As we continue telling girls and women that they can indeed do anything, seeing two black women in a predominantly male league and industry sends an important message:

When women are given the chance, they can — and will — excel.