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Beyoncé and Black Country Acts on How ‘Cowboy Carter ‘Impacted Them

Beyoncé and Black Country Acts on How ‘Cowboy Carter ‘Impacted Them

When Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” hit the top spot on Billboard’s Hot country songs chart, she became the first Black woman to achieve the feat in the chart’s 80-year history. The tune-blending elements of country, Western music, pop and soul reigned supreme for 10 weeks as her Cowboy Carter album emerged as a cultural piece of art that sparked think pieces about Black artists reclaiming the genres they created to social media essays about Queen Bey’s next-level greatness and virtuosity. 

“Texas Hold ‘Em” eventually dipped to No. 2, only to be supplanted by a new artist with a connection to Beyoncé: her two-time Cowboy Carter collaborator Shaboozey. The 29-year-old’s anthemic blend of country and rap on “A Bar Song (Typsy),” released two weeks after Cowboy Carter, danced to the top of the charts. And, for the first time in Billboard history, two consecutive Black artists held the No. 1 spot.

Shaboozey

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images for Spotify)

Now, Shaboozey has a Top 5 album on the pop charts with his third project, Where I’ve Been, Isn’t Where I’m Going, and he is a shoo-in best new artist Grammy contender. Part of his success can be attributed to “the Bey-effect.” Other breakthrough newcomers featured on her historic album — including Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, Tanner Adell, Reyna Roberts and Willie Jones — have also benefited, from earning first-ever placements on the Billboard charts to soaring streaming numbers and an expanded social media presence. 

“When you are breaking down barriers, not everyone is ready and open for a shift. But when I see Shaboozey tearing the charts up and all the beautiful female country singers flying to new heights, inspiring the world, that is exactly what motivates me,” Beyoncé tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. 

Shaboozey — who released his debut project six years ago and launched three songs from his new album before finding chart success with “A Bar Song (Typsy)” — is grateful for the push Cowboy Carter has given his music. “It’s been pretty great for her to put a lot of eyes on me at one time. Her being able to put a light on me at that time period helped my roll-out. She helped amplify what I was already doing in this space, and it’s really amazing [coming from] somebody that is really influential [and a] historic figure,” he tells THR. “It’s cool to see how far country music has reached since Beyoncé did her project. It’s cool to see the music reach all over the world.” 

On Cowboy Carter, Shaboozey appears on “Sweet Honey Buckin’” and “Spaghetti,” which also features country music pioneer Linda Martell, the first Black woman to perform solo at the Grand Ole Opry whose legendary career is getting more attention thanks to her double appearances on Queen Bey’s album. Jones lends his vocals to “Smoke Hour II” while Spencer, Kennedy, Adell and Roberts harmonize on a Paul McCartney-approved cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

Tiera Kennedy

(Photo by Catherine Powell/Getty Images for CMT)

For Kennedy, who moved to Nashville eight years ago and has worked as a songwriter behind the scenes, being part of Cowboy Carter came at a significant time in her career.

“For me it’s so much deeper than the numbers. It was a change for my entire life. A few months before [Cowboy Carter] happened, I was dropped from my record deal, and I was on this trajectory of having the career that I had always dreamed of and then that was such a bombshell for me,” she explains. “And literally, immediately after the album came out my social numbers shot up. Ever since then, it’s been steadily growing and people are finding me and finding my music. And it’s been really cool, because I think this is coming at a very pivotal time for my career.”

Kennedy, who was signed to Big Machine Label Group, released the independent single “I Ain’t a Cowgirl” in April and said she’s “loosely” talking to major labels about deals. But she adds that Beyoncé emboldened her to create the debut album she truly wanted to make.

“Beyoncé inspired me to make an album that is true to me. She’s given me this freedom to put out music the way I want,” she says of the project, expected to be released in October. “Before I was trying to make an album that was commercially acceptable instead of making an album that was true to me. I describe my sound as R&B/country and I was a little scared to really dive into that, because I thought I had to be in this one lane. But then Beyoncé comes with this project that has obvious influences from so many different spaces, but country at its core is storytelling. And that is what she’s doing in this album — it is most certainly a Beyoncé album and it inspired me to create a Tiera album.”

Brittney Spencer

Photo by Catherine Powell/Getty Images for CMT

Spencer has been rising on the country music scene and has impressed with her awards show performances, from last year’s CMA Awards alongside Mickey Guyton and Madeline Edwards with a song honoring Black hair to April’s CMT Awards with Parker McCollum, which was full of passion and went viral on TikTok. Her debut album, My Stupid Life, was released in January and even made Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of 2024 So Far list, published last week.

She moved to Nashville 11 years ago and loves the boost Beyoncé has given her.

“In the middle of Cowboy Carter coming out, I was still on the road finishing up a tour leg with Grace Potter and there were people that came up to me like, ‘Yo, I heard you on Cowboy Carter and I had to come out here.’ And of course it made me smile so deeply,” she says. “We know everyone loves Beyoncé and it’s so cool to watch her fans come up to me or send me a message and say, ‘Yo, I really rock with you because I heard you on Cowboy Carter.’ I think it’s beautiful.”

Beyoncé

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

Outside making history for other acts, Cowboy Carter is continuing to make history for Beyoncé, with some music experts predicting the piece of work could finally win the artist with the most Grammys in Grammy history the coveted album of the year trophy next year.

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It has reached the No. 1 spot on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart, as well as the country and folk charts. The album, with more than 1.5 billion streams worldwide, set records on Spotify and Amazon Music and debuted at No. 1 in 17 countries.

But Cowboy Carter has also sparked conversations and for Beyoncé, that’s more important than going multi-platinum. “There was a time in my life when charts and sales excited and motivated me. Once you have challenged yourself and poured every ounce of your life, your pain, your growth and your dreams into your art, it’s impossible to go backward,” Beyoncé says. “I’m very grateful and humbled for the extraordinary success of the new album.”

“I think that it’s done something interesting in country [music] as a whole. I feel like it’s broken apart [things] in country music [and] I don’t think we’ll ever go back completely to how Black country was perceived before this,” Spencer adds. “I feel like it cracked the creative code for a lot of us, and it’s really cool to watch that happen for me and other artists as well.”

Spencer continues, “The conversation of Black country music, it’s been growing over the last four years, and it’s been a whole lot of groundwork, a whole lot of efforts from a lot of different people, and watching this moment with Cowboy Carter happen, it’s done something really beautiful in connecting the fans to the musical space. And I think that’s really cool because people feel it. I’m watching Nashville feel it in a real personal way.”

Cowboy Carter collaborators Tanner Adell, Tiera Kennedy, Reyna Roberts and Brittney Spencer.

Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT

Kennedy feels it, too. In addition to “Blackbird,” she joined Spencer, Roberts and Adell as background vocalists on Cowboy Carter’s “Tyrant” — “I kept joking that we were channeling our inner Destiny’s Child,” she reveals, laughing. But, seriously she says, working on the album with the other breakthrough acts has created community amongst them.

“Really through this journey we’ve gotten closer and it’s been really special to see how all of this has affected their careers, and even the artists outside of this project,” Kennedy says. “I remember watching an interview recently with Shaboozey — to see that [success] happening for a Black man in country music is absolutely insane. And I think it’s exactly what Beyoncé intended to happen with this project.”

For Spencer and Kennedy, they are also hoping to pass the torch in country music to the young Black and Brown girls behind them like Beyoncé has done.

“Artistry is hard, no matter who you are, no matter what you look like. It’s just hard. And I think once you add those other variables, it definitely adds more challenges to your path. And I would love for a 10-year-old girl to be able to see herself [in country music] and be like, ‘This is normal. I can do this thing. I can follow the actual passions and pursuits of my heart without letting a hard historical truth make me feel like I should change something,’” Spencer says.

“Thank you, Bey, for making a really thoughtful and musical project that has opened doors for a lot of people, many of which we won’t know probably for years from now.”

For Beyoncé, Cowboy Carter is a continuation of the work she did with 2022’s Renaissance, which blends dance, house, disco, R&B and hip-hop and incited discussions about the history of dance music and its origins in Black art and culture. “I’m honored to introduce so many people to the roots of so many genres. I’m so thrilled that my fans trusted me. The music industry gatekeepers are not happy about the idea of bending genres, especially coming from a Black artist and definitely not a woman,” Beyoncé tells THR.



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