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Beyonce at the 2021 Grammy Awards
Beyonce at the 2021 Grammy Awards
Photo by Cliff Lipson / CBS
Culture > Entertainment

Beyoncé’s Country Conquest: Unveiling Cowboy Carter

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

On March 29th, 2024, Beyoncé sent shockwaves through the music world with the drop of her latest album, Cowboy Carter. Acting as Act II in her musical trilogy, following the groundbreaking Renaissance, Beyoncé fearlessly ventures into the realm of country music. But this isn’t just any country album — it’s a bold reaffirmation of the genre’s deep-rooted cultural significance, with Beyoncé at the helm, steering us through a sonic journey unlike any other.

Cowboy Carter didn’t just make waves – it made history. With its lead single “Texas Hold ‘Em” soaring to the top spot on the Hot Country Charts, Beyoncé not only claimed her throne as a musical powerhouse, but also made history as the first Black woman to do so in the country music realm. Before Beyoncé’s groundbreaking achievement, the closest contender was Tracy Chapman with her soul-stirring anthem “Fast Car.” Though originally penned solely by Chapman, the rendition by Luke Combs made its way to No. 1, hinting at the rising influence of Black artists in the traditionally white-dominated country music scene. Beyoncé is not just raising the bar; she’s rewriting the rules and reshaping the landscape of country music for the better.

Beyoncé’s journey into the heart of country music is a tale of resilience and reclamation. Back in 2016, hit the stage at the Country Music Awards, teaming up with The Chicks (formerly known as the Dixie Chicks) for a rendition of her song “Daddy Lessons.” Yet, the reception was mixed, to say the least. Critics hurled accusations that she didn’t fit the “country” mold, sparking debates and even threats of boycotts. The CMAs, instead of standing by the artist, refused to post her performance online, despite its undeniable impact — it became the highest-rated 15 minutes in the show’s half-century history. But despite the controversy, Cowboy Carter emerged, a testament to Beyoncé’s defiance and determination to claim her space in a genre that too often overlooks its Black roots.

Beyoncé seemed to make callbacks to this moment in an Instagram post announcing the album. She stated, “This album has been over five years in the making. It was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed… and it was very clear that I wasn’t.” This declaration not only highlights her artistic autonomy but also taps into the historical struggle of Black artists to claim their space within the country music landscape. It’s safe to say she refused to be boxed in by anyone else’s definition of what’s “country enough.”

In the opening track, “AMERICAN REQUIEM,” Beyoncé gives a nod to her Southern roots and the rich stereotypes of country music. With lyrics like “Used to say I spoke too country / And the rejection came, said I wasn’t country ‘nough,” she confronts the stereotypes that have plagued Black artists in the genre. But she’s unapologetic, boldly asking, “If that ain’t country, tell me what is?” It’s a powerful moment that highlights both her personal journey and the broader struggles faced by Black musicians in country music.

Overall, Beyonce challenged the conventional ideas surrounding country music with her own unique twists, while still staying true to its roots. She reclaims her country roots and redefines the genre for future generations. She manages to create a more inclusive idea of what it means to be “country.” It’s evident that Cowboy Carter will go down in history.

Cowboy Carter isn’t just an album; it’s a bold reclamation of country music’s roots. With her signature flair and unapologetic style, Beyoncé’s rewriting the playbook, infusing the genre with her own soulful sound while honoring its historical legacy. By doing so, she’s not just making music; she’s shaping history. In her hands, Cowboy Carter becomes a testament to a more inclusive, diverse future in country music. So saddle up and mark it down, because Cowboy Carter isn’t just an album — it’s a historical moment in the making.

Hey I’m Isabella and I’m a first year pre-communications major at UCSB! I love Taylor Swift, reading, hanging out with friends, and going to the beach!