Liz Toussaint is a rising country music star, but her journey was a bit unorthodox: The black singer grew up in Chicago with a hip-hop DJ for a brother and an R&B pianist for an uncle. “You're supposed to be a hip-hop queen,” her brother once told Liz, who sang alongside a young Jennifer Hudson. Now, Toussaint is releasing her first—country—album, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“In front of my friends, we listened to Biggie Smalls and Tupac,” says the 30-year-old single mom. “I never told anybody that at home I was listening to the Dixie Chicks.” Club owners refused to book her, assuming she was a “rap act,” and Toussaint admits she’s “kind of skeptical” about winning over hardcore country fans, but she’s determined: “I'm not singing unless I'm singing country.”