Beyoncé Is Going Country and She's Already Breaking Records

Fans seem fully on board with Beyoncé’s genre shift. “Texas Hold ‘Em” is the first song by a Black woman to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

Jamie Lerner - Author
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Feb. 22 2024, Published 9:38 a.m. ET

Beyoncé and Jay-Z attend the 66th GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 4, 2024
Source: Getty Images

We’ve been through over 25 years of music with Beyoncé from her 1998 debut with Destiny’s Child to today. And she’s still releasing new music! During the 2024 Super Bowl, Beyoncé announced that her newest album, which she’s calling Act II for now, will be released on March 29, 2024. The album will lean heavily on the country genre, though, which seems like a departure from the past decades.

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We’ve even had two sneak peeks, thanks to Beyoncé’s hit singles, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages,” that definitely suggest Beyoncé is going full country. The BeyHive seems fully on board with Beyoncé’s genre shift as “Texas Hold ‘Em” becomes the first song by a Black woman to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Even still, we can’t help but wonder why she made the shift and if she’ll stay in the genre forever.

Destiny's Child promoting their new album "Survivor" May 1, 2001, at Coconuts Music store in New York City
Source: Getty Images
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Beyoncé didn’t “go country” — she has always been country.

Since Lemonade, Beyoncé has made an effort to not just show off her skills but to tell stories through music. Lemonade, which arguably should have won Album of the Year, told the story of how Beyoncé navigated her emotions through Jay Z’s cheating scandal. It encompassed several genres from rock to R&B as she found different ways to express herself through song.

At the time, the song “Daddy Lessons” was lauded by music experts and journalists as a clear nod to country. She pulls on her dad’s lessons to stay strong as she gets through a difficult time in her life. “With his gun, with his head held high / He told me not to cry / Oh, my daddy said shoot,” she sings. While her team submitted the song for the country genre at the Grammys, it wasn’t accepted, reminiscent of a similar instance with Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.”

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Beyoncé performing in a cowboy hat in 1999
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This spurned a conversation around race in the country genre and how the mostly white establishment only accepts Black artists in R&B, rap, hip-hop, and other similar genres. In fact, Beyoncé performed “Daddy Lessons” with the historic Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks) at the 2017 CMA Awards to much controversy with “traditional” country lovers painting Bey as an outsider.

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Beyoncé is reinvigorating Black artists’ presence in country music.

But Beyoncé actually grew up in Texas, surrounded by country influences. In 2021, she gave a rare interview to Harper’s Bazaar about her new clothing line, which was inspired by her youth. “This collection is a mixture of my childhood growing up in Texas and a bit of American history,” she said. “I grew up going to the Houston rodeo every year.”

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“It was this amazing, diverse, and multicultural experience where there was something for every member of the family, including great performances, Houston-style fried Snickers, and fried turkey legs,” she added. But throughout the years, she’s noticed how Black people have been pushed out of the country genre and depictions of the West.

“One of my inspirations came from the overlooked history of the American Black cowboy,” she explained. “Many of them were originally called cowhands, who experienced great discrimination and were often forced to work with the worst, most temperamental horses. They took their talents and formed the Soul Circuit. Through time, these Black rodeos showcased incredible performers and helped us reclaim our place in Western history and culture.”

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Beyoncé and the Chicks on stage at the 50th annual CMA Awards on Nov. 2, 2016
Source: Getty Images

Beyoncé tapped historic Black country artists Rhiannon Giddens and Robert Randolph to play on her 2024 album. “It’s crazy that the whole world doesn’t understand the history of country music and fiddles, dobros, and banjos,” Robert told Rolling Stone. “Where do you think that stuff came from? Who was living in the barn? Who were the people living in the back houses?”

Even Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles, chimed in on Instagram to share how a country album has been a long time coming for her daughter. Fans also suggested that Beyoncé’s three-album series, which began with Rennaissance, a dancehall-inspired album that incorporates disco, R&B, soul, pop, and house music, is meant to explore the genres that inspired Beyoncé’s career. Naturally, this would lead to a country album and fans are hoping that Act III will delve into rock.

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