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Beyonc, black popstar from Texas, releases her first country album

  • March 28, 2024
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Beyoncé, world queen of R’n’B and pop, releases her first album labeled country music, nourished by her native Texas and highlighting the African-American influence in this popular genre with a very conservative image.

The African-American singer, also actress and businesswoman releases “Cowboy Carter”, act II of her “Renaissance” trilogy on Friday midnight (04:00 GMT).

Born in Houston to a mother from Louisiana and a father from Alabama, Beyoncé, 42, became at the end of February, even before the album was released, the first black singer to rank a song at the top of the charts country music, a very popular musical genre in the United States and traditionally associated with white men.

With the success of the hit “Texas Hold ‘Em”, punctuated by the sound of the banjo, and the single “16 Carriages”, released during the Super Bowl on February 11, black country artists hope to benefit from a spotlight.

From her first female gospel and R’n’B group, Destiny’s Child, to her 2016 hit “Daddy Lessons”, Beyoncé, wife of New York rapper and businessman Jay-Z (Shawn Corey Carter) , highlighted his native South and the influence of country on his music and style.

Conservative white musicians

This musical genre has always permeated the work of “Queen Bey”, whose worldwide triumph shakes up the traditions of country music rather associated with white and conservative musicians.

According to music historians, the banjo, the original instrument of country, bluegrass and folk music, finds its roots in the Caribbean in the 17th century, played then by black slaves deported from Africa to the Americas. Brought to the Eastern United States, the banjo was taken up by white populations of Appalachia in the following centuries.

“Black country” has always existed, but black musicians have been kept out of the genre.

Singer, author, dancer, producer, actress, Beyoncé is today the most successful artist in the history of the Grammy Awards, awards of the American music industry.

Beyoncé receiving an award during the 65th Grammy Awards, February 5, 2023 at Los Angeles Recording Academy/AFP

Beyoncé receiving an award during the 65th Grammy Awards, February 5, 2023 at Los Angeles Recording Academy/AFP



But paradoxically, out of her 32 awards, she has never won best album. A controversy over the lack of diversity that her husband Jay-Z refueled by criticizing the music industry during the last Grammy Awards on February 5.

Beyoncé was also the victim of racism in 2016 after playing her country song “Daddy Lessons” during the awards of the association of this musical genre.

“The criticism that came my way when I first got into (country music) forced me to push myself beyond my own limits,” she wrote recently on Instagram. This new album “is the result of the challenges I set for myself and the time I took to twist and mix genres for this work”.

In 2019, one of the songs of the year, rapper Lil Nas elements of this style. Which caused controversy.

“Purely white country”

“As soon as a black artist releases a country song, the value judgments, comments and criticisms fly in droves,” blasted folk and blues singer Rhiannon Giddens, featured on the track “Texas Hold,” in the British newspaper The Guardian. ‘Em.”

She denounced “people who try to preserve the nostalgia of a purely white (country) tradition that never existed.”

In recent years, black artists have still managed to break into country music, such as Mickey Guyton and Brittney Spencer.

In a sign of this belated recognition, Tracy Chapman’s famous folk and country song released in 1988, “Fast Car,” received the 2023 Best Song award at the Country Music Awards, but that was after white singer Luke Combs in made a repeat.

For Charles Hughes, author of the book “Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South”, Beyoncé’s country period is “the claim of part of her musical identity and her roots in Houston”, the cosmopolitan metropolis from Texas.

For now, “the white-dominated music industry and country music are asking black and mixed-race artists to demonstrate sincerity and good faith,” continues the analyst.

Over the past 15 years, Beyoncé “has really turned to her Texan origins,” insists Mr. Hughes, which “has provoked hostility from ‘people saying ‘Oh, she can’t do country’.”