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July 25

O.B. McClinton’s “The Only One” Upholds the Country Soul; Not Skin Color

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O.B. McClinton's “The Only One” Upholds the Country Soul; Not Skin Color 1

In the 1980’s, Country singer O.B McClinton kept releasing novelty songs that explore the complexities of his “blackness” in a predominantly “white” environment. In “The Only One,” he recounted an experience where he played music in a honky-tonk bar. Everything went super! A bystander just couldn’t keep his opinion to himself and called him “peculiar one”. It was on account of his complexion. Thankfully, the exchange did not end into feelings of animosity but in camaraderie as they toast for a drink.

“I’ve always been Country
though Lord my skin is black”

“The Only One served as the album title of his last work prior to being afflicted with cancer in 1986. The album was released in 1987 which was the same year that he died. He was only 47.

Talents vs. Tolerance

No matter how much it’s downplayed, black musicians continually have to face the fact that their race will always be put into scrutiny. While many acknowledge their talents, it still can’t be denied that people with a superiority complex will always have an issue on their complexion.

Even the famed Charley Pride had, for some time, subject himself to the hiding of his race. Reportedly, it’s a precautionary measure by his producer and Record Label. They may not have intended to fool people but the strong prejudices against blacks at that time forced them to take the route of securing Pride’s future first. Fortunately, their plan did not backfire as those who may potentially oppose a black man’s involvement with Country music have long become Pride’s fans.

To date, Pride’s regarded as one of Country Music’s Royalty. Still, more than cheering his musical finesse, spectators still note his color. Guess, we’re still a long way from Martin Luther’s dream of the total eradication of racism.

THE ONLY ONE – O.B McClinton

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Charley Pride, O.B McClinton, The Only One


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