Beyoncé’s Bold Country Music Statement: Exploring the ‘Cowboy Carter’ Album and Black Reclamation

Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ Reinforces Her Dedication to Black Reclamation—and Country Music

First, Beyoncé arrived in full cowboy attire at the 2024 Grammy Awards, sending a message without saying anything. Then, during the Super Bowl, she released two hybrid country songs, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages.” All of this greeted the release of her latest album, “Act ll: Cowboy Carter,” on Friday.

As a Black woman reclaiming country music, she challenges the genre’s conventional connections with whiteness. “Cowboy Carter” was five years in the making, the direct result of what Beyoncé has described as “an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed… and it was obvious that I wasn’t,” most likely referring to a 2016 CMAs performance that sparked a racial reaction.

Beyoncé, Texas, and ‘Daddy Lessons’

Beyoncé comes from Houston, a city with a complex musical interplay of “blues, country, and hip-hop,” says Francesca T. Royster, a DePaul University professor and author of “Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions.” “The iconography of Texas as a place of freedom and boldness—those ideas have been part of Beyoncé’s ongoing star image,” Royster said.

Houston is also home to the rodeo, the country’s oldest black trail ride, and black cowboy culture; in 1800s Texas, one of every four cowhands was black. Royster believes Beyoncé has inherited this legacy by experimenting with country sounds, as seen by the country-zydeco-R&B barnburner “Daddy Lessons” from 2016’s revolutionary “Lemonade.”

At the time, however, the Recording Academy denied admission in the Grammys’ country categories. “Daddy Lessons” was also kept off country radio, according to Alice Randall, author of “My Black Country” and the first black woman to write a country No. 1 hit, Trisha Yearwood’s “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl).”

The 2016 CMAs

Suppose there is a lightning rod country music moment in Beyoncé’s career thus far. Beyoncé performed “Daddy Lessons” with The Chicks at the 2016 CMA six days before the US presidential election.

Royster said that CMAs are vital for testing genre collaboration and connection.

The award ceremony frequently invites pop musicians to perform alongside country acts to attract new audiences. Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton performed together the year before.

Critics praised the strong performance, but online, Beyoncé faced racial criticism, with some viewers labeling her “anti-American.”

“This was a tough time to perform racial crossing because of the heightened tensions around the election and the unresolved tension of The Chicks,” Royster said.

Natalie Maines of The Chicks declared in 2003, right before the United States invaded Iraq that she was ashamed to be from the same state as then-President George W. Bush. There was a huge backlash that “reflected the kind of preferences that country music ended up moving towards in that post-9/11 moment, where country radio shunned The Chicks, stopped playing their music, and instead played these jingoistic anthems and helped popularise them,” says Amanda Martinez, the author of the soon-to-be-released “Gone Country: How Nashville Transformed a Music Genre into a Lifestyle Brand.”

Country music is black music.

Lemonade” established Beyoncé’s commitment to black empowerment, and her most recent album, “Act l: Renaissance,” is considered an exercise in reclaiming house music. “She is reclaiming the black roots of country music,” says Martinez of this record. That is demonstrated by the inclusion of banjoist Rhiannon Giddens, whose music and research underscore the contributions of Black Americans to folk and country.

Martinez draws inspiration from Beyoncé’s predecessors,, such as The Pointer Sisters and Tina Turner’s 1974 country album, as well as up-and-coming artist Tanner Adell, who sings “Looking Like Beyoncé with a Lasso” on her 2023 hit “Buckle Bunny.”

“16 Carriages” draws from gospel, country, and Beyoncé’s ballads and is inspired by Johnny Cash’s “16 Tonnes.”

Randall thinks country music draws from Celtic ballad narratives, African influences, and evangelical Christianity.

This is not a country album, but a Beyoncé album.

“Country music has a rigid, centralized power structure that has wielded much power over ‘what country music is,'” Martinez said. Beyoncé is not subject to these forces.

“Beyoncé is black so that she can be seen as an outsider,” she said. “Country record” vs. country music as an art form.

“The released songs preserve the best of country and take it to new places,” he says.

“Evolving and preserving is a facet of the genius of Beyoncé,” she said.


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Pratham Mittal hails from the city of Vadodara, Gujarat. He is incredibly positive and passionate about his life. He's obsessed with his ambitions and dreams. A kind, friendly, and happy soul loves to see smiles around. He enjoys reading books, dramas, and short tales and is an avid reader. His favourite genre is literature. He's primarily motivated by self-belief. His heart beats with the desire for success, love, passion, and trust. He has won numerous awards, co-authored over 100 national and international anthologies, and compiled over 25 anthologies.  He's the author of "Crystal of Thoughts.". He's also part of many writing communities in India and abroad.He has 12 national, world records to his name. He has also won over 15 honours for his work. He was featured and interviewed in a national and international journal and newspaper.​