Beyonce’s Country Album Is Drawing Strong Reactions All Around — Here’s Why
With the help of a Verizon commercial, Queen Bey officially kicked off her new era with two brand new songs Sunday night (Feb. 11): "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages."
Fans quickly realized that Beyoncé's new record, which is part two of the three-act Renaissance trilogy and is set to drop on March 29, is a country album — a stark departure from Act I's disco and house music vibe.
Many fans are excited about this new musical exploration in Beyoncé's versatile catalog, especially since country music is known for its vivid storytelling.
Meanwhile, members of the Bey Hive — a.k.a. Beyoncé's fanbase — who aren't typically fans of country music are ready to embrace the genre all in the name of Beyoncé.
And many fans are just happy Beyoncé's back again, no matter what type of music she's making.
Despite Beyoncé's discography largely leaning toward pop, dance and R&B, the superstar has dabbled in the country genre in the past.
The singer delved into country on the standout 2016 Lemonade track "Daddy Lessons," a song on which she gives a spirited "yee-haw!" and shouts out her Texas roots.
She even teamed up with The Chicks for the song's fiddle- and harmonica-laden remix, and joined the country group onstage at the 2016 Country Music Association Awards — one of country music's most prestigious awards shows — for a joint performance.
Though some might not have expected Beyoncé to ever even go near the country genre, she is from Houston, Texas, home of the rodeo, after all.
Now, it seems that she's creating an overall theme of reclamation within her Renaissance trilogy.
First up honoring the Black musicians who pioneered disco and house music, and now she's lifting up Black country musicians who have been historically ignored and underrated despite their important contributions to the genre.
As a 2016 Vox article pointed out, country music's roots can be traced back to Black musicians.
For one, the banjo evolved from West African instruments such as the ngoni and xalam.
While "Daddy Lessons" was not received well by much of the more "traditional" country community at the time, it seems like Act II has perfect timing as more and more Black country artists are breaking through in the genre. Just look at Mickey Guyton, Breland and Kane Brown.
Plus, Tracy Chapman became the first Black woman to have a No. 1 song as a songwriter on the country charts thanks to Luke Combs' cover of her hit song "Fast Car" in 2023.
However, there are still people already hating on Beyoncé's forthcoming country album.
Others have pointed out that while some people are criticizing Beyoncé for releasing a country album supposedly to garner more Grammy nominations in a new genre, that logic doesn't really make sense with the Grammys' track record.
Regardless of what people think, however, Beyoncé's country album is shaping up to be one of this year's most talked-about records in the genre. And we tip our (cowboy) hat to that.
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Gallery Credit: Seth Berkman