Hot 100 First-Timers: Allison Russell Debuts With Hozier Team-Up ‘Wildflower and Barley’

Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Russell has been releasing music for over two decades, but she’s now, officially, a Billboard Hot 100-charting hitmaker, thanks to her new song with Hozier, “Wildflower and Barley.”

Released March 22 on Hozier’s new four-song EP Unheard (via Rubyworks/Columbia Records), the song debuts at No. 88 on the Hot 100 with 6 million U.S. streams earned in its first week of release, according to Luminate. The EP debuts at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 with 38,000 equivalent album units.

Russell, from Montreal, has had a longstanding career in numerous forms: as a member of the bands Birds of Chicago, Our Native Daughters, Po’ Girl, Tim Readman & Fear of Drinking, Sankofa and Sisters of the Strawberry Moon, as well as a solo recording artist.

Birds of Chicago, of which Russell is a member with her husband, JT Nero, has charted one title on the Americana/Folk Albums chart: Real Midnight reached No. 22 in 2016. The pair has released two additional LPs: Birds of Chicago in 2016 and Love in Wartime in 2018.

Our Native Daughters comprise Russell, Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah and Leyla McCalla. The quartet’s only studio album, Songs of Our Native Daughters (released on Smithsonian Folkways), reached No. 23 on Independent Albums in 2019.

Plus, Sisters of the Strawberry Moon’s album with Luther Dickinson, Solstice, reached No. 23 on Heatseekers Albums in 2019. The project also includes Amy Helm, Amy LaVere, Coco Mamas and Sharde Thomas.

Russell has also released two solo LPs: Outside Child in 2021 and The Returner last September, both on Fantasy Records. The sets were nominated for best Americana album at the 2022 and 2024 Grammy Awards, respectively. She has earned seven additional Grammy nominations and took home her first trophy at the latest ceremony, for best American roots performance (for “Eve Was Black”).

Following her Grammy win, Russell made headlines when Tennessee House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison blocked a resolution to honor her, despite allowing a similar resolution to pass for Paramore after the group won its first Grammy. The resolution was presented by Tennessee Democratic Rep. Justin Jones, who aired his grievances on X following the decision. “Tonight my Republican colleagues blocked a resolution honoring Black American Roots artist Allison Russell for her first Grammy win,” he wrote. “[She] has worked tirelessly to foster an inclusive Nashville through her music and continues to make Black History here in Tennessee.”

Russell has long been an outspoken activist outside of music. In March 2023, she teamed with Jason Isbell and LGBTQ non-profit organizations to organize Love Rising, an all-star benefit concert in Nashville in response to the state passing laws banning gender-affirming care for minors and banning drag shows in public spaces. The show featured performances from Brothers Osborne, Sheryl Crow, Hozier and Maren Morris, among others.

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