Words: Zachary Draves


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When Beyoncé broke the internet again after being featured in a Version commercial during Super Bowl LVIII, it was a sign that she was on the cusp of releasing new music. Wouldn’t you know it, she immediately released two new country-inspired songs, “Texas Hold Em” and “16 Carriages.” Most went into a frenzy because, once again, Queen Bey met the moment. 

Now everyone is waiting on pins and needles for the release of her debut country album Act II, the latest in her three-part Renaissance project, with the first album in the series and coinciding tour and documentary smash hits. 

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In essence, Beyoncé is going back home with this new endeavor. She is not only getting reacquainted with her country roots growing up in Houston, Texas but is refreshing the collective minds of America that black artists were very much the forbearers of country music. 

Dating back to DeFord Bailey, Charley Price, Linda Martell, Stoney Edwards, O.B. McClinton, to the current day with artists such as Darius Rucker, Kane Brown, Rhiannon Giddens, and Brittney Spencer, black artists have been a significant staple in country music, contrary to the whitewashed version of the music where the face is predominately white and the stories told in the music come from an entirely white experience. 

READ MORE: Beyoncé Makes History as She Tops Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart

Much like gospel and the blues, under the horrific brutalization of slavery and Jim Crow, Black Country Music artists spoke to the black experience in the same way that year’s later soul, funk, and Hip-Hop gave voice to black and brown folks in urban communities dealing with urban plight, the crack cocaine epidemic, police brutality, and mass incarceration. They told tales of love, loss, and longing, common in country music, but also spoke to issues around pride and prejudice. 

Instruments like the banjo, a staple in country and bluegrass music, originated from West Africa and are made from gourds. During slavery, enslaved Africans used the banjo when creating spirituals and hymns, and it was exclusively a black instrument. 

It wasn’t until the minstrel era of the 1840s and 1850s when white performers donned blackface appropriated the use of the banjo at a time in their racist portrayal of African Americans as lazy, dangerous, and uneducated. That helped to pave the way for what originally was called “hillbilly music” in the early 20th century and was performed by both black and white artists. 

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In 1962, Ray Charles released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, in which he got in touch with his country roots with classics such as “Born to Lose,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “You Don’t Know Me,” and “Bye, Bye, Love.”

But if this nation had an abundance of basic historical understanding around black history and genuine appreciation for black culture, there wouldn’t be unmitigated outrage coming from those complaining about how Beyoncé shouldn’t be played on country music stations. 

An employee at the country station KYKC in Oklahoma even sent an email that read, “Hi, we do not play Beyoncé on KYKC as we are a country music station.” Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider went as far as to compare her to a dog. 

READ MORE: Country Radio Station in Oklahoma Refuses to Play Beyoncé’s New Singles

During an appearance on the conservative media network One America Network (OAN), host Allison Steinberg asked Schneider, “The lefties in the entertainment industry just won’t leave any area alone, right? They just have to seize control over every aspect, don’t they?”

Schneider replied, “They’ve got to make their mark, just like a dog in a dog walk park, you know, every dog has to mark every tree, right?”

Racism, misogyny, and historical amnesia all in one segment. 

Never mind that Beyoncé has embraced her countryside before. 

On her landmark Lemonade album in 2016, she proudly celebrates her southern roots on the epic track “Formation” when she says:

My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana

You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama

I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros

I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils

Earned all this money but they never take the country out me

I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag

Also, she hit the stage with the then Dixie Chicks, now referred to as The Chicks, at the 2016 CMA Awards to perform her song “Daddy’s Lessons.” She later received backlash, saying that she shouldn’t have been on there and the Grammys wouldn’t take up the song. 

At a time when black history is under assault by politicians and with various states restricting what they teach on the subject of race, Beyoncé is doing not just the country music world but the nation a much-needed service that she shouldn’t have to provide. 

She is forcing others to reckon, no pun intended, that the very core of country music and why it resonates so well is rooted in blackness, which is something to celebrate, not excoriate. 

If anything, she provides much-needed relief for country music lovers and those on the fence because she is getting to the heart of what makes the music so timely. 

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As opposed to never-ending tales of partying, getting drunk, and reckless endangerment with trucks and four wheels, not too much the racist imagery and dog whiles about small towns as conveyed by Jason Aldean in his notorious “Try That in a Small Town,” the Queen B is country in the best possible sense of the word. 

In truth, she is re-appropriating the appropriation of a musical art form that is quintessentially black and proud of it. 

That is something to be taught and not suppressed.