Beyoncé is bringing her fans of color to country music. Will they be welcomed in?

NEW YORK (AP) — Dusty, worn boots. The horses lap up the water. Sweat drips from the foreheads of all shades of black skin as country classics blare through giant speakers. These moments are frequently recreated at Tayhlor Coleman’s family reunions on their ranch in central Texas. For her, that of Beyoncé country album, “Act II: Cowboy Carter”, was the fulfillment of an improbable wish.

“There’s something to be said about the biggest artist in the world returning to a genre that…we all love but have never really felt welcome in – it’s really hard to put that into words “said the 35-year-old artist. -old native of Houston’s Third Ward, the same neighborhood in which Beyoncé lived as a child. Loving artists like Miranda Lambert and Shania Twain, Coleman hoped this moment would come. “I was praying then that one day she would make a country album…Beyoncé is more country than a lot of people doing country music today.”

Beyoncé’s latest project is not only #1 on the Billboard 200 for the second week in a row, but it became the first black woman to top the Billboard country albums chart.

“There’s nothing this girl can’t do…it inspires me,” said country superstar Lainey Wilson, who won the country album Grammy in February. “I’m excited to see fans who didn’t know they loved country music discover that maybe they do like it a little bit.”

Beyoncé’s arrival in country music – and the motivation behind it – has reignited discussions about the origins of the genre and its diversity. But with growing interest from Beyoncé fans, is Nashville ready and willing to welcome them? And will these new listeners of color and others curious about the hype stay or will their interest in the genre wane?


FILE – Rissi Palmer arrives at the CMT Music Awards, April 11, 2022, at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. With the release of “Act II: Cowboy Carter,” Beyoncé reignited discussions about the origins of the genre and its diversity. (AP Photo/John Amis, file)

“I’ll be honest with you: I think it’s a Beyoncé thing. I don’t know if it’s a country music event because that would mean the industry would have to do something…I think it’s one of those cultural moments for black people, especially for black women,” said country artist Rissi Palmer, host of the show. Apple Music Color Me Country Radio Show which has created a centralized community where fans of color can enjoy the genre.

“It’s really funny to me to see a lot of country radio programmers trying to take credit for what just happened with Beyoncé. It wasn’t country radio…it was their power, their money and…their brand recognition. It’s the fandom that did this,” Palmer said.

Tanner Davenport, co-head of the Black Opry — and proud member of BeyHive — worries that “Cowboy Carter’s” massive accomplishments could have unintended consequences, such as country music executives not feeling the urgency to highlight existing and future black artists. Black Opry was founded by Holly G in April 2021, as she examined her relationship with gender during the social justice movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd. The organization aims to amplify black voices in country, Americana, blues and folk music.

“Once Act II has run its course and faded away, there will be programmers…who will look back and say, ‘We’ve done that before.’ We gave a black woman No. 1,” Davenport said. “If they can really start to engage the public a little bit more, I think they can start to see some progress in this area and capitalize on this moment because I think there’s a huge weakening of the black dollar and how far this can go.”


Reyna Roberts parents filled their house with music. Roberts, a rising country artist featured on “Cowboy Carter” with vocal credits on “Blackbiird” and “Tyrant,” said some question her musical aspirations.

FILE – Reyna Roberts arrives at the CMT Music Awards, April 11, 2022, at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.  With the release of

FILE – Reyna Roberts arrives at the CMT Music Awards, April 11, 2022, at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. With the release of “Act II: Cowboy Carter,” Beyoncé reignited discussions about the origins of the genre and its diversity. (AP Photo/John Amis, file)

“People are always so surprised. But I’m like my parents played country, they played trap, they played rock, they played classical, they played blues… Everything I create is really authentic,” said Roberts, who made a career breakthrough in 2020. after thanks from superstar Carrie Underwood and Mickey Guyton, who became the first black woman in 2021 to co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards. ( Charley Pride, died in 2020was the first black co-host of the CMA Awards in 1975.)

Roberts is part of a new generation of artists, like Shaboozey, Tanner Adell and Willie Jones, who are fusing country with other genres like hip-hop.

While Wilson, one of the genre’s biggest artists, hopes some Queen Bey fans will explore country, a significant percentage of black listeners already exist. A self-commissioned study by the Country Music Association in 2021, “Country Music’s Multicultural Opportunity” Examining potential audience expansion opportunities found that 26% of Black respondents said they listen weekly.

“I don’t think they’ve gotten to the point where they feel as safe at country shows… the large audience for country music is going to be reflected in the streaming world,” Davenport said. He says the Black Opry is strategizing to capitalize on Beyoncé’s momentum so curious fans can find spaces “where they can exist and not feel threatened.”


Safety and comfort in a country music environment is often on the minds of black country music fans. Davenport was in the audience during Beyoncé’s 2016 CMA performance with The Chicks, which sparked a well-documented racist online backlash, and is widely considered the genesis of “Cowboy Carter,” with the superstar speaking out in a post Instagram: “I didn’t feel welcome.”

From the AP archives: Beyoncé spoke with the Associated Press in a 2003 interview about her faith. The superstar made history this week by becoming the first black woman to top the Billboard country albums chart.

During the performance, Davenport says a woman near him yelled, “‘They need to get that black bastard off the stage,'” adding, “I started to realize, OK, this is really a space in which I do not do it. I feel comfortable and I don’t feel safe.

This same multicultural study of the CMA found that 20% of concertgoers of color have experienced racial profiling or harassment. The survey also included non-country music listeners, and as many as 31% of this segment indicated they weren’t listening because they “would not be safe/comfortable at live events.”

Monica Wisdom understands.

In the early ’90s, the St. Louis native attended a concert by one of her favorite artists, Reba McEntire. Wisdom, 55, says McEntire’s performance was on fire, but the atmosphere and crowd were freezing.

“They weren’t very welcoming… You’d see the eye rolls and you’d hear the comments and the whispers, like, ‘What are you doing here?'” recalls Wisdom, the founder of Black Women Amplified, a women’s empowerment group. “I said if this is what country music is, I don’t want to be a part of it. So I stopped listening to it.

And Wisdom hasn’t been to a country music concert since.

While popular artists like Wilson, the legendary Dolly Parton, Maren Morris, Jason Isbell and others have publicly expressed the need for inclusion, but their allyship can sometimes be overshadowed. In 2021, Morgan Wallen, then already a huge star, was filmed using the N word while his album “Dangerous: The Double Album” remained at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for three consecutive weeks. Although there were repercussions, many fans gathered around him increasing its popularity. “Try This in a Small Town” by Jason Aldean also experienced a sharp increase last year like the music video sparked controversy.

“That’s the problem the industry has when it’s trying to retain and encourage a true black country audience,” said Palmer, whose first meetings with major labels in the early 2000s were walk-ins -you due to his team’s fears that his race could pose a barrier. . In 2007, Palmer became the first black woman in 20 years to reach Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart with “Country Girl.” She remembers performing at shows with Confederate flags in the crowd, but still singing in resistance. Concerns from music labels included her hairstyle and even the ethnicity of her love interests in music videos.

Palmer says the perception of racism is “a difficult connotation to overcome and a lot of work needs to be done.” There’s a lot of responding to that and possibly asking for forgiveness… I don’t know if the industry is ready to do that.


“I think there’s this feeling that country music is white music,” said Coleman, who hasn’t always expressed his love…

Gn entert
News Source : apnews.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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