(February 16, 2024).  How dare a Black female — the wife of a billionaire, a near-billionaire herself, and a woman whose song repertoire up to now has consisted of 99.99% R&B/Hip-Hop/pop music — swerve outside her lane and do country?

I mean the audacity of a lady with a name like Beyoncé who’s won more Grammys than there are spurs on fifteen pairs of cowboy boots bring her “Formation”-singing, LGBTQ-music lovin, former-drug-dealer-turned-rapper-husband havin’, left-leaning self into country music’s hallowed halls and turn it on its Wrangler-patched rear-end?!

I mean, after all, aren’t there enough sistahs in country?

Think about it, there’s umm, Mickey Guyton, and, oh yeah, that chick Yola.  Oh, and there’s Linda Martell… you know, that Black girl from the 1970s who had that one hit…what was it called again?

Why do we need more?

Especially one whose most recent big purchase was a $200-million mansion in Malibu, CA. 

Last time I checked, that ain’t nowhere near country!

Even Azealia Banks, that Black female rapper who has to be right because, well, she’s a Black female who agrees, thinks Beyoncé is outside her lane and setting herself up for ridicule.  She said it herself in the following Instagram Stories post:

And, John Schneider, y’all know who he is right?  The former actor of TV’s Dukes of Hazard fame who we all love because he’s “Bo” Duke and he had a handful of country hits in the 1980s (but none since), hit the nail on the head when he agreed in an OAN Network interview this week — and I’m paraphrasing — that the elite leftists are trying to take over everything, in his assessment of Beyoncé’s latest foray into something she has no knowledge or experience and, hence, no place in.

So what if she’s done a country song before?  That was eight years ago and it was tucked nicely and neatly away in an album that had a dozen other songs that were more up her alley.  You know, more Black-sounding ones.  

Besides, true country music fans put her in her place when she and those traitors The Chicks tried to bring that “Daddy Lessons” mess to the CMAs that year.  

Yeah, she learned her lesson then.  That is, we don’t mind if she does a country song — maybe even two — on one of her albums, as long as she don’t bring that stuff into our tight knit community or, God forbid, make a whole country album and force us to look at ourselves in the mirror. 

The best thing Beyoncé can do for country music right now is…

Give us more!

That’s right, don’t stop now, Queen Bey!  You’re on a roll!

In the five days since Ms. Carter surprise-dropped the singles “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages,” and sent the country music industry into a spur-rattling tizzy in the process, she’s brought more attention — as unwanted as it might have been— to country music than five Morgan Wallens put together!

Not that country is really hurtin’ for the spotlight.  It just came off one of the best years in its long history with Wallen having the biggest-selling album of 2023 (after doing the same in 2021), and with four different country singles topping the Billboard Hot 100 consecutively for the first time ever last summer.

Yeah, country music is doing just fine, thank you, with stars like Wallen, Luke Combs, Cole Swindell, and Zach Bryan leading the way.

You know,… men.

But Yoncé is highlighting, once again, an issue that is too often ignored in that particular music category: the lack of that bad 9-letter “D” word that “woke” folks use.

Oh sure, country has its share of diversity. Just ask Darius Rucker and Kane Brown or the embattled Jimmie Allen, all Black men who’ve topped the country charts in the 21st century.

But those three are pretty much it.  And I’ll bet you a Bud Light that you can’t name a sister who’s done so (that will change next week btw). Heck, it wasn’t until 2023 that a Black woman even solely wrote a No. 1 country chart hit, and that was a song written 35 years earlier as a folk-pop record.

To the contrary, seemingly every time a Black woman does try to enter country’s thorny patches, she’s pushed back or knocked down.  And it’s not enough that the country music establishment does it, but even our own people do (Azealia Banks being a prime example). 

Former country singer Maren Morris — a white woman — called the industry out for this blatant blockout by advocating for six Black female country music pioneers in an acceptance speech she gave at the 2020 CMAs (she won Female Artist of the Year). 

In that speech, Morris named Mickey Guyton, Yola, Linda Martell, Rissi Palmer, Brittney Spencer, and Rhiannon Giddens — women in various stages of their careers with musical styles spanning country, folk and Americana (and some delving into R&B, safely, of course) — as “pioneers” who paved the way for her and who’d been repeatedly overlooked by the country music industry.

You’d think a high-profile mention on country’s most important stage would result in more than just future awards show recognition and that these women would see a turnaround in their careers (at least those who were active).

Instead, not one of them has had a country chart hit since 2020. 

Yola, who’s topped the country and folk music charts in the U.K., released an album in 2021 — Stand for Myself — which was a combination of country, Americana, folk-rock and a few other genres.  It missed the country chart altogether and only climbed as high as No. 196 on the Billboard 200 (it did receive a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album, though).

Palmer, who in 2007 became the first Black woman in 20 years to even reach the American country charts (with a song called “Country Girl”) hasn’t done so since, despite releasing a few singles in the past 17 years as either lead or featured artist. 

Spencer, a 35-year-old “newcomer,” has released several projects to critical acclaim.  She received a CMT Awards nomination for Digital First Performance of the Year for the 2022 song “Sober and Skinny.”  She’s never appeared on the country music charts.

Giddens, former front-woman of the group Carolina Chocolate Drops who plays banjo and viola on Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em,” has released five genre-spanning studio albums — two since 2020 — and none of them have touched the country charts.  Her 2021 effort, They’re Calling Me Home, did win the Grammy for Best Folk Album the following year. 

Linda Martell, now 82 and inactive, did win CMT’s Equal Play Award in 2021 (the year after the Maren Morris callout) for her accomplishments as a Black woman in country music during the 1970s.  She was the first such female to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and appear on the classic show Hee Haw after her album Color Me Country briefly put her on the map.

Which leaves the name most folks are probably familiar with, Mickey Guyton.  As the most visible representative of the country sisters club with multiple awards show appearances and name-drops since 2020, you’d think at least she’d have a country radio hit, right?

Released in 2015, Mickey Guyton’s “Better Than You Left Me” stands as her biggest country hit.

None of the songs Guyton’s released since 2020 have reached the Billboard Hot Country Airplay chart (two released prior to 2017 did).  Her first full-length album — released in 2021 — only managed to climb to No. 47 on the 50-position Top Country Albums chart.

There are others who’ve tried to break through country music’s siloed barriers in recent years, with similar results.

Singer Mika Marks, a member of CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2022, tried to navigate the genre as early as the 2000s.  Since 2020, she’s released the fittingly titled album Our Country, and even performed on the Grand Ole Opry where she received two standing ovations.

She has yet to see one of her songs on Billboard’s country music charts.

K. Michelle, of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta fame, has famously been trying to release a country album for four years — ever since she announced that her 2023 project, I’m The Problem, would be her last R&B set.  

Michelle received a plug from Azealia Banks (in the same rant that blasted Beyoncé) as being someone who “understands the assignment,” though a 2023 duet with country musician Justin Champagne — specifically its non-reception at country radio — would clearly suggest otherwise.

A variation of country, Allison Russell’s “Eve Was Black” won a Grammy in 2024 for Best Americana Roots Performance

Meanwhile, recent Grammy winner Allison Russell (Best Americana Roots Performance for the song “Eve Was Black”) was one of two Tennessee artists that Nashville Representative Justin Jones proposed resolutions before the state’s legislative body to honor their 2024 Grammy achievements (the other being the rock group Paramore).

The legislators voted “yes” for Paramore (winners of this year’s Best Rock Album and Best Alternative Music Performance awards), but shot down the resolution honoring Russell.  

When Jones, who famously had to be reinstated to the legislature after being expelled in 2023 for “decorum violations,” tried to further make his case, he was shut down by the Tennessee House Speaker.

Which brings us all the way back to Beyoncé.

The few hundred spins she’s likely received — very reluctantly in some cases — by country radio in the past five days alone are likely more than the plays of Guyton, Yola, Martell, Palmer, Spencer, Giddens, Marks, Michelle and Russell COMBINED in the past five years!

If it takes Beyoncé releasing a couple of country songs to once again stir up things and remind people of the very aggressive campaign against Black women making it in that genre, then so be it.

It wouldn’t be the first time a genre of music has had to go outside of its norms to accept what others have defined for them as their own (current case in point: white Kentucky rapper Jack Harlow has been sitting at the top of the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts for the past 13 weeks and counting, with nary a wink from the culture’s faithful).

There’s nothing like a pretty blonde, bedazzled, cowboy-hat-totin’ Texas girl to bring country music to its knees, even if that girl happens to be a Black woman named Beyoncé… one who is keenly aware of the significant role that Black folks had in the development of country music nearly a century ago.

It’s likely why she chose that genre as Act II of her Renaissance trilogy, with dance music being the first in 2022, and rock-and-roll now rumored to be the third (release date TBD).

All three forms are rooted in Black blues, itself born out of our enslavement, and excluding country music from her three-part celebration of our music and its various major offshoots would be like revising its history, especially during a month specifically designated to celebrate our many contributions to American culture.

Folks say she needs to stay in her lane?

I say she’s not swerving far enough out of it.  Or, more accurately, even further exploring a lane that was paved by Black enslaved musicians who created the banjo, or the Black man (Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne) who taught Hank Williams to play guitar,  or the countless others critical to the genre’s formation.

And to further extend a “formation” pun, I, for one, can’t wait to hear what Queen Bey has in store for the rest of Renaissance Act II.

Even if nothing changes afterwards, it will be well worth it!


DJRob (he/him) is a freelance music blogger from the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, disco, pop, rock and (sometimes) country genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @djrobblog and on Meta’s Threads.

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2 thoughts on “Here’s the best thing Beyoncé can do for country music (and it’s not what you think)”
  1. You are gifted keyboard artist, making music with words. As usual, a thoughtful read, with a self-revealing perspective. Thanks for creating and then sharing.

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