In 2006, Oakland's Miko Marks became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a country music award by New Music Weekly magazine. That was an honor in itself. But then she won Best New Country Artist and was honored at a red-carpet event in Hollywood. Around the same time she was named Female Vocalist of the Year by Nashville-based country Web site Indie World. Finally, in December, her 2005 debut Freeway Bound was awarded Country Album of the Year at the Independent Music Awards by a judging panel that included country legends Wynonna Judd and Patti Loveless. Last year, Marks also released her first video, "Mama," starring longtime friend Erykah Badu. Her sophomore record, It Feels Good, will be released this summer on Oakland indie label Mirrome.