By Jesse Bertel

The Folk Sessions presents one of Country Music Television’s (CMT) Next Women of Country Class of 2023 and a member of the Black Opry Revue, Julie Williams, at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 8, in the Elks Theatre’s Crystal Hall, on the third floor of the Performing Arts Center, 117 E. Gurley St.

In January 2022, Williams began touring the country with the Black Opry Revue, a collective of Black artists in country, blues, folk and Americana music, and performed at their CMT-sponsored anniversary gala in April 2022, which was covered by NBC News.

“We get to share our songs and stories with people and just show a different side to country music than people have seen in the past,” Williams said. “The goal of it is not only to find community with each other and be able to collaborate and be on stage with people that look like us but also to bring a whole different show that encourages more diverse audiences in country music, that people can come and feel safe and comfortable and see people on stage that look like them.”

Williams was inducted in the CMT Next Women of Country Class of 2023, joining Kacey Musgraves, Margo Price and other top CMT artists.

“I was very grateful to be inducted into CMT Next Women,” Williams said. “It’s a group of women that are all in country and that are kind of trying to change country music for the better. Part of what CMT is trying to do is highlight women who are becoming game-changers in the genre.”

Williams credits her involvement with the Black Opry Revue for putting her in a position to be inducted in CMT’s Next Women of Country.

“I think becoming a CMT Next Women, all of those steps I would not have had without Black Opry,” Williams said. “So, it’s a very powerful organization to be a part of as a Black artist, not only in terms of the opportunities that it provides but just the safety and comfort and a feeling of belonging and family.”

Storytelling is what drew Williams into country music.

“There’s something about country music to be able to transport you to another place or to another version of yourself, to be able to see yourself in a song that’s also fun to sing and I think there’s something really powerful about that,” Williams said. “Some of my favorite songwriters, growing up — I listen to lots of different music — but a lot of the songs that really moved me as a child were country songs, especially by women of country music.”

A cash bar will be available. Tickets start at $30.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit, or call 928-756-2844.

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