Awaiting Cowboy Carter

As we inch closer to the follow-up to Beyoncé’s immaculate Renaissance (2022), the artist is dropping more clues as to what is to come on the second act of her promised trilogy. Along with the official artwork for Cowboy Carter, Beyoncé has shared a statement with her fans, declaring: “This ain’t a Country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé’ album.” 

Cowboy Carter Artwork by Blair Caldwell

In the post, she contextualizes the formation of the record and how it has been five years in the making. Beyoncé explains how it was sparked from an experience she had “years ago where [she] did not feel welcomed…and it was very much clear that [she] wasn’t.” 

Without any specifics, Beyoncé is likely referencing her 2016 performance at the Country Music Awards alongside the blacklisted country group, the Chicks. Together, they performed Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons” from her 2016 album, Lemonade

Despite the show-stopping performance, Beyoncé and the award show itself received substantial backlash. The audience took offense to Beyoncé’s appearance on the show as she wasn’t a “country” artist. The vitriol was so great, the CMAs took down the performance from their YouTube page. The message was clear: a black artist was not welcomed on the country music stage–even if she was performing country music. 

With Cowboy Carter, Beyoncé is diving straight into the country music genre in the face of the criticisms she has received in the past. As she writes in her statement, she delved into the history of the genre and challenged herself to create her own version of country music. 

So far, two singles, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages” have been the only glimpses into her vision; yet, they brilliantly showcase her deft abilities to switch gears in her music. The former is a hoedown-style track that you can’t help but to boogie your boots to, and the latter is a powerful ballad that utilizes the storytelling often found in country tracks. Clearly, Beyoncé is in full-on country mode–and doing it well. “Texas Hold ‘Em” is a hit, making her the first black woman with a number one on the Hot Country Songs chart.

Not only is Beyoncé hitting back at those who criticized her when she “infringed” upon the country music world, but she is also trying to do something greater. As she writes: “My hope is that years from now, the mention of an artist’s race, as it relates to releasing genres of music, will be irrelevant.” So, yes, this is a BEYONCE record and not just a country record. She is chipping at the racial barriers that have been constructed alongside genres. She is creating music that is fully hers–no matter what genre category it may be placed.

Cowboy Carter is set to release March 29. 


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