Black Women Have Always Been in Country Music, You Just Haven’t Been Looking Hard Enough

Beyonce
Getty Image/Merle Cooper

As she’s often done and will continue to do, Beyoncé sparked an integral social conversation in response to her world-stopping work. In early February during the Super Bowl, the announcement of her rumored forthcoming country album “Act II” — lead by the plucky single “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and the stripped-down ballad “16 CARRIAGES” — raised several points surrounding the genre’s diversity issue. Both songs feature production, writing, and instrumental assists from Black artists. (“TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” features Black folk musician Rihannon Giddens on banjo and viola, while roots music steel guitarist Robert Randolph can be heard on “16 CARRIAGES.”)

Despite the songs’ rapid popularity following their surprise release, a post on X alluded to an Oklahoma country radio station refusing to play “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” stirring allegations of racism. It was later clarified that the station was unaware that Beyoncé had released music within this genre. (Early metadata also suggests that the songs were initially placed under her typical labels — Pop, Hot AC, Rhythmic, Urban, R&B — rather than country, which it was eventually serviced to.) Regardless of whether these songs will get airtime on country radio or not, the notion that the genre is attempting to shut out Beyoncé because of her perceived lack of country street cred has loomed largely.

But we’re missing the forest for the trees. Bey’s place in country music ultimately turns the genre’s proverbial mirror inward, in order to highlight a larger issue regarding the longtime exclusion of the genre’s Black female artists by both institutions and fans. These artists are integral to the foundation of country music, but seldom get the respect or visibility to compensate for the contributions they’ve made. Whether this was Beyoncé’s intention or not, “Act II” is both an album release and a social experiment. She’s helping to apply pressure on a machine designed to exclude certain acts from certain genres in order to force a change.

“I want to recognize that I do not know of any Black female country artists and I do think that this is a problem,” says Jane*, a country music fan from Massachusetts, when asked if she actively listens to country music by Black artists. “There is no representation for Black female artists in country music, and very little representation for Black male country artists. I think that Beyoncé’s two songs are highlighting this major fault.”

Despite “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM”s supremacy on both the country charts and the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, country’s fiercest advocates have taken umbrage with the idea that the Houston-bred icon is threatening “traditional” country music, identified by simple production and thematic-yet-unifying lyricism. This is due to the sonic je nais se quoi that makes a Beyoncé song, a Beyoncé song. (Unparalleled vocal runs, harmonies, and layered production.) As we saw with Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” in 2019, 2017’s “Meant To Be” by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line, and even Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” in 1997, this isn’t the first time a discussion about “what country sounds like” has occurred.

“I think it is inevitable that [genre cross-pollination] happens,” says country fan Xavier, who not only names Zach Bryan and Charles Wesley Godwin as some of his favorite acts, but performs country music in NYC. In the last 15 years especially, pop, hip-hop, and trap beats have infiltrated the genre by acts such as Morgan Wallen (“Wasted On You”), rapper-turned-country star Jelly Roll (“Unlive”), and Florida Georgia Line (“Lil Bit”). Purists may also condemn these artists, but it seems that casual fans — and the charts — don’t seem to mind.

But the “sound” of some songs doesn’t negate the fact that there are Black women country acts, producers, and songwriters who are fighting to have their work heard, regardless of whether they’re releasing genre-bending takes or “pure” country tracks. What ultimately stifles these voices in the mainstream is the genre’s deeply rooted racism, inherent misogynoir, and the demonstrated unwillingness of fans and higher powers to dive deeper into the diversity country offers outside of what is already being pushed.

Chris Willman did a really great article in Variety, and he included a quote about how [country] programmers have been searching for this amazing Black woman that is an incredible singer, has charisma, has the right voice, the right song… but they just haven’t found her,” explains country music star Rissi Palmer over Zoom. “There have been more than 50 years of Black women trying to be in the genre…not one?” With her 2007 song “Country Girl,” Palmer became the first Black woman in 20 years to have a song hit Billboard’s country music chart. She is also the host of Apple Music’s radio show “Color Me Country with Rissi Palmer,” where she highlights non-white acts within country.

“Myself and my friends [musicians Denitia, Madeline Edwards, Tiera Kennedy, Miko Marks, and Sacha] went to the Opry to support Camille Parker,” she continues. “In the group you have a variety of colors, shapes, size, perspective, sound. Every one of these women has put music out into the world, several of them are signed to major labels…not one [fits the criteria]?”

Race played a major factor in the distribution of music during the beginning of the recording era, around the 1920s. Black art was relegated to “race records,” while white acts played “hillbilly music.” Both “types” of music featured instruments that Black artists are often credited with bringing to the forefront, such as the banjo, which was long associated with slaves. “Race records” would eventually evolve into rhythm and blues, and “hillbilly music” — presented as more “marketable” to rural whites — would birth country music. With this said, music scholars often acknowledge country’s Black roots and overarching influence. However, its segregated foundation contributes to a present-day aversion to change, and the continuation of Black artists being overlooked or ignored.

These days, country radio remains overwhelmingly white and male. Per PBS: “A recent study from the University of Ottawa found a mere .03 percent of all songs on country radio from 2002 to 2020 were by Black women. Less than 1 percent of the 411 artists signed to the three major country music labels are people of color.” Linda Martell was the first Black woman to hit the country charts with “Color Him Father.” When her singles hit Billboard’s country charts, Beyoncé became just the eighth Black woman to have her work appear there, joining Martell, Ruby Falls, Pointer Sisters, Nisha Jackson, Dona Mason, Palmer, and Mickey Guyton.

“I think that country is an American art form,” Palmer notes of the importance of Black country artists. “It borrows from Celtic tradition, African tradition, Mexican tradition, and Native American tradition. You bring all these things together, and it makes this art form that is truly unique and special to the experiences of this country, and that’s what should make it inclusive.”

“I really hope people realize that country is such a diverse genre and that it shouldn’t be defined by any stereotypes,” country fan Xavier adds regarding the importance of inclusivity in country music. (He was born and raised in China.)

Perhaps more than any other genre, country music thrives on the pertinence of storytelling. Now more than ever, Black women deserve just as much of a chance as anyone to share their stories. As a country composed of the descendants of individuals from all over the world, there is nothing more American than art chronicling these diverse experiences. Julie Williams’ “Southern Curls” highlights Black beauty. “Seeds” by Rissi Palmer exemplifies the power of community. Mickey Guyton’s “Black Like Me” earned a Grammy nomination in 2020, christening her as the first Black woman to be nominated for “Best Country Solo Performance.” (“These are valid stories, these are country stories,” Palmer affirms.)

But such is life — these voices remain muffled rather than amplified, not just because of the genre’s diversity issue, but also perhaps as a means to turn a blind eye to reality. This creates barriers between Black art and consumers. So, how do we continue to bolster these voices in country music?

Support them. Listen to their stories. Shine a light. Give them your time. Because not only have they been here doing the work, they’re not going anywhere.

Songwriter and performer Frankie Staton made waves during the ‘90s by leading the nationally recognized Black Country Music Association, which had an aim to educate the masses and form community within the country music space. Music journalist and artist manager Holly G founded the Black Opry in 2021, an in-person community of Black artists and fans that commune to celebrate the art form. Equal Access, now entering its third year, is an initiative that strives for equity among artists, executives, and management in country music. Per USA Today, its cohorts have been about 60 percent Black women. There’s also CMT’s Next Women of Country, where women of color (including Denitia and Tanner Adell) reportedly make up 12 percent of the artists in the program.

Plus, there’s a plethora of radio shows and podcasts like “Color Me Country” that speak to the non-white experience in the genre, as well as playlists that highlight country music from minority groups. (Don Flemons’ Tennessean playlist is a robust exploration of Black country music, while Spotify’s “Country Frequency” and “Country Latino,” and Apple Music’s “Boots & Mocs” highlight country, roots, and Americana music from Black, Brown, and Indigenous voices.)

“I remember during the election in 2020…somebody said that the motto of Black women is: ‘Forget it, I’ll do it,’” Palmer laughs. “We’re doing that [within country]! We always make a way when we have to. Plus, Google is your friend. You’ve got the same Google that I do.”

What does this moment mean for the future of Black women artists in country music? Palmer (as well as Xavier, Jane* and likely many other country advocates) are hopeful that these conversations allow both new and longtime fans to expand their horizons when it comes to their idea of country music.

“I do think that anyone regardless of race, gender, or background can create a song that includes many country aspects,” Jane* says. “Anyone can make any kind of music they want to, [and] mix country with whatever you want to. I don’t think that my opinion of country music should limit anyone to stay in a box.”

There’s also the wish that Black women country musicians, songwriters, and producers seize the opportunity to strike while the iron is hot, but continue to stay true to who they are.

“I’m not looking at this like ‘Beyoncé has swooped down to save all of us and to take her with us,’ because it’s not her job,” Palmer explains. “It doesn’t start with Beyoncé, it doesn’t start with Charley Pride, it goes way further than that, and that’s the story that needs to be told at this moment.”

“There’s a lot of really great music,” she continues. “If people just take the time to look it up, they will find a treasure trove. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, whatever style [of country music] you like, it’s out there.”

Taylor Swift And Beyoncé’s Concert Films Were Behind Not Just A Lot, But ‘Literally, All’ Of AMC’s Q4 Earnings Increase

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Move over Mission Impossible. If anyone needed even more confirmation that pop stars saved movie theaters in 2023, AMC Theaters revealed just how thankful they were for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour and Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour being released as films through unique deals with their chain.

Both Beyoncé and Swift distributed their concert films directly through AMC, even before working with any studios or streaming platforms.

“What is particularly noteworthy is how much AMC benefited from our trailblazing industry leading efforts with our highly successful distribution of two concert movies Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour and Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé,” AMC’s CEO Adam Aron shared with Deadline. He also noted, “Literally, all of that increase in AMC’s Revenue and EBITDA is attributable to our having shown these two movies in our theatres in the U.S. and internationally.”

By their two movies alone, their fourth-quarter earnings rose by 11%, providing the theater company with $1.1 billion in revenue. This was way higher than what Wall Street had apparently initially projected for AMC.

“This is a stunning result given that neither of these films were on anyone’s drawing board until mid-year, and that they were the first movies ever distributed by AMC in our entire 103-year history,” Aron said.

“To that end, our praise for Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles Carter has no limit, and we offer our boundless thanks to these two world class artists for entrusting AMC to collaborate with them as to the theatrical exhibition of their two masterpiece creations,” he added.

R&B Singers Who Crossed Genre Lines: Beyoncé, Rihanna, Janet & More

Music has always been an ever-changing and evolving art form, with artists constantly pushing boundaries and redefining genres. R&B is a highly beloved genre, and many notable singers have found their voices within it. While it’s easy to stay in one’s comfort zone, acts are always willing to test the limits, and experiment extensively within a genre. However, some R&B icons go above and beyond, fearlessly crossing into other musical territories entirely. Beyoncé’s venture into country music is the latest example of such versatility.

From pop to rock, Hip Hop to reggae, many R&B idols have wholeheartedly embraced musical experimentation. In doing so, they have left an enduring imprint on the music industry by defying conventions. Here, we’ll shine a spotlight on some of these remarkable singers who have transcended the confines of R&B. With ambition and determination, they have made an impact far beyond the borders of their musical origins.

Beyoncé

Beyoncé, renowned for her powerful R&B vocals, is now widely regarded as a groundbreaking, visionary artist. Throughout her career, she has constantly experimented with genres, incorporating elements of pop, EDM, reggae, and even rock into her music. When it comes to versatility and range in regards to musical experimentation, not many R&B singers come close. Time after time, she has proven her ability to transcend genre limitations. The track “Hold Up,” from her Lemonade (2016) album, effortlessly combines reggae with elements of soul and rap. Likewise, her recent releases, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages” are full-on country songs. Beyonce has shown herself most capable of holding her own in different music genres. The Queen Bey’s ability to slay in all these different territories needs to be studied.

Rihanna

Known for her distinct and versatile vocals, Rihanna seamlessly infuses various genres into her music. While she has not released music in a while, her reputation stands firm. Although she is primarily regarded as an R&B vocalist, she is one of a handful of singers who can succeed in many other genres. Throughout her musical career, Rih has been known to incorporate her Caribbean roots into her works. When she released “Man Down” in 2011, with its reggae and soulful vibes, it ushered in a new era in the singer’s career. Equally notable are her electrohouse collaborations with Calvin Harris, “This is What You Came For” and “We Found Love.” With her chart-topping hit, “Work,” Rihanna also explored dancehall music.

Alicia Keys

With a classical training in piano, Alicia Keys has always been an interesting and notable artist. Using the instrument as an extension of herself, she’s always brought a peculiar touch of elegance to R&B. Additionally, the singer’s ability to infuse soulful vocals with intricate piano arrangements truly sets her apart. However, Keys has also explored the territories of pop in several of her albums. These include The Element of Freedom(2009), Here (2014), and Alicia (2020). On Alicia, she went even further, experimenting with orchestral pop and reggae on tracks like “Love Looks Better” and “Wasted Energy.”

Frank Ocean

When it comes to an alternative approach to R&B and genre-blurring, Frank Ocean is among a handful of essential singers. His distinctive style of music incorporates a myriad of influences, allowing him to carve out a niche for himself. Ocean’s sophomore album Blonde (2016) contains elements of psychedelic pop and ambient pop in the tracks. Blonde is a testament to the singer’s ability to create a dreamy, genre-defying soundscape that resonates with a broad audience.

Kelly Rowland

Kelly Rowland has an impressive solo catalog. Without a doubt, she is among the best R&B singers of her generation. Despite her reputation as an R&B vocalist, however, she has released various hit songs in other genres. Rowland went full-on EDM onhits like “When Love Takes Over” and “Commander.” She also experimented with dance-pop on the track “Work,” cementing her status as a genre-bending icon.

Usher

A stalwart in the R&B scene, Usher has successfully switched between genres various times with his music. He has worked on pop, EDM, and Afrobeats, among others. Tracks like “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and “OMG” demonstrate his ability to experiment with EDM elements. Looking 4 Myself (2012) remains his most experimental album with songs like “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” and “Numb.” On his most recent album, he incorporated Afrobeats into the track “Ruin,” and showcased his capacity to push genre boundaries.

Janet Jackson

The R&B and pop icon Janet Jackson has effortlessly navigated between genres throughout her career. She is celebrated alongside many other iconic R&B singers, and rightly so. However, unlike some R&B vocalists, Jackson has successfully crossed genre lines many times in her career. For example, with her album Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989), she played a crucial role in popularizing the New Jack Swing genre. She has also fearlessly experimented with funk, rock, and disco, among others. Some of her most experimental and celebrated tracks to date are “Black Cat,” “If,” and “Control.”

The post R&B Singers Who Crossed Genre Lines: Beyoncé, Rihanna, Janet & More appeared first on HotNewHipHop.

Peter Rosenberg Slams Joe Budden’s Link Up with ‘Immoral’ Candace Owens

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Peter Rosenberg is not feeling Joe Budden’s decision to pod with Candace Owens. On Wednesday, Owens teased the conversation, writing, “It happened.”

“So sick of the idea that conversations need to be had with bigots, trolls, and immoral a-holes,” Rosenberg wrote. “Exchanging ideas among smart good people is useful. Hearing a hateful hack babble on about hate is not worth anyone’s time.”

Just days after Budden expressed admiration for Owens’ work but questioned her willingness to engage with his show, the pair’s unexpected encounter has sparked widespread speculation online. While details of their meeting remain undisclosed, anticipation is mounting as fans eagerly await further updates on the collaboration between Owens and Budden, which is expected to make waves across social media platforms.

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Earlier this week, Candance Owens showed support for Beyoncé’s Country music. In the latest episode of The Candace Owens Podcast, Ownes details Queen Bey’s country history.

“Some people are saying that this is not very country,” Candace says. “I’m going to defend Beyoncé on that point because Beyoncé’s kind of always been country. She’s more country than Taylor Swift ever was for sure. Beyoncé is from Houston, Texas. She’s always had a twang… [Taylor Swift] put on a fake twang. Everyone was okay with it. You can’t say that Taylor Swift can do it, and Beyonce can’t.”

The post Peter Rosenberg Slams Joe Budden’s Link Up with ‘Immoral’ Candace Owens first appeared on The Source.

The post Peter Rosenberg Slams Joe Budden’s Link Up with ‘Immoral’ Candace Owens appeared first on The Source.

Candace Owens and Joe Budden Link Up, Tease Podcast Crossover

Candace Owens and Joe Budden Link Up, Tease Podcast Crossover

Political commentator Candace Owens and podcast host Joe Budden met in Nashville in a surprising turn of events.

Just days after Budden expressed admiration for Owens’ work but questioned her willingness to engage with his show, the pair’s unexpected encounter has sparked widespread speculation online. While details of their meeting remain undisclosed, anticipation is mounting as fans eagerly await further updates on the collaboration between Owens and Budden, which is expected to make waves across social media platforms.

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Earlier this week, Candance Owens showed support for Beyoncé’s Country music. In the latest episode of The Candace Owens Podcast, Ownes details Queen Bey’s country history.

“Some people are saying that this is not very country,” Candace says. “I’m going to defend Beyoncé on that point because Beyoncé’s kind of always been country. She’s more country than Taylor Swift ever was for sure. Beyoncé is from Houston, Texas. She’s always had a twang… [Taylor Swift] put on a fake twang. Everyone was okay with it. You can’t say that Taylor Swift can do it, and Beyonce can’t.”

All hail Queen Bey as she once again presides over the Billboard Hot 100. Beyoncé has taken over the top spot on the single’s chart with “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

The single is the ninth chart-topper for Beyoncé, her most recent being “Break My Soul” in 2022.

According to Luminate, “Texas Hold ‘Em” saw significant growth in various metrics during the tracking week of Feb. 16-22. The song garnered 29 million streams, marking a 51% increase, and received 16.1 million radio airplay audience impressions, experiencing a remarkable surge of 233%. Additionally, the track sold 29,000 downloads, albeit experiencing a decrease of 25%. With these impressive statistics, “Texas Hold ‘Em” earned the distinction of being the top Streaming and Airplay Gainer on the Hot 100 chart.

Over the weekend, Dolly Parton saluted Beyoncé’s musical foray into country. “I’m a big fan of Beyoncé and very excited that she’s done a country album,” Parton wrote on Instagram. “So congratulations on your Billboard Hot Country number one single.”

She added, “Can’t wait to hear the full album!”

The post Candace Owens and Joe Budden Link Up, Tease Podcast Crossover first appeared on The Source.

The post Candace Owens and Joe Budden Link Up, Tease Podcast Crossover appeared first on The Source.

People Think Beyoncé’s ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ Sounds Like The ‘Franklin’ Theme Song And Even The TV Tune’s Writer Sort Of Agrees

“Texas Hold ‘Em” has proven to be a major song for Beyoncé. It recently became the first song by a Black woman to lead the Billboard country charts, and a few days ago, it became her ninth No. 1 single on the Hot 100. Some, though, couldn’t help but notice some similarities between Beyoncé’s single and the theme song of Franklin, the classic turtle-starring kids show from the late ’90s and early ’00s.

Here’s a video comparing the two songs:

As TMZ notes, the comparison has generated some attention on TikTok. Now, Bruce Cockburn, the beloved Canadian singer-songwriter who wrote and performed the Franklin theme, has shared his thoughts. He told the publication, “I think Beyoncé’s ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ is a good record. Unfortunately, I can’t claim to have had any part in writing it. The rhythmic feel is similar to my theme song for the Franklin TV series, but to my ears, that’s where the similarity stops. ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ is her song, and I wish her success with it!”

So, it doesn’t look like Beyoncé is about to get dragged into a legal battle over her new music. Kanye West can’t say the say the same thing right now, though, as it looks like he’s getting sued by Donna Summer’s estate.

Kevin Bacon And Kyra Sedgwick Serenade Their Farm Animals With Lively Rendition Of Beyonce’s ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’

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Kevin Bacon has played his fair share of weirdos throughout his long and successful career. Over the last few years, he’s starred in a handful of creepy thrillers and horror flicks, which is why it’s refreshing to learn that the man is pretty much the opposite in real life. Not only is he beloved by movie lovers everywhere, but he also has found fans in the hardest demographic of all, Gen Z, thanks to his impressive TikTok skills.

Bacon and his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, are not shy about sharing their quaint farm life, which is a nice departure from the way we’ve seen Bacon in the past. This week, the two shared a cheerful rendition of Beyonce’s latest track “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” with Sedgwick providing very enthusiastic backup vocals. Their audience included their pigs, Johnny and June, and their miniature horse. A sold-out show!

Oh, to be a pig on Kevin Bacon’s serene little farm…what a magical life that would be. The word “bacon” would have such a different meaning over there. He also has a goat named Macon Bacon, by the way.

He doesn’t only use his Instagram for singing with his farm family, though he does it often. He also celebrated the 40th anniversary of Footloose by doing…whatever this trend is:

The husband and wife duo are set to star alongside one another for the first time in two decades. Maybe their nepo pig Johnny will get some roles soon.

Candace Owens on Beyoncé’s Country Music: ‘She’s More Country Than Taylor Swift Ever Was’

Candace Owens on Beyoncé’s Country Music: 'She's More Country Than Taylor Swift Ever Was'

Can you believe Candace Owens is supporting Beyoncé’s Country music? In the latest episode of The Candace Owens Podcast, Ownes details Queen Bey’s country history.

“Some people are saying that this is not very country,” Candace says. “I’m going to defend Beyoncé on that point because Beyoncé’s kind of always been country. She’s more country than Taylor Swift ever was for sure. Beyoncé is from Houston, Texas. She’s always had a twang… [Taylor Swift] put on a fake twang. Everyone was okay with it. You can’t say that Taylor Swift can do it, and Beyonce can’t.”

All hail Queen Bey as she once again presides over the Billboard Hot 100. Beyoncé has taken over the top spot on the single’s chart with “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

The single is the ninth chart-topper for Beyoncé, her most recent being “Break My Soul” in 2022.

According to Luminate, “Texas Hold ‘Em” saw significant growth in various metrics during the tracking week of Feb. 16-22. The song garnered 29 million streams, marking a 51% increase, and received 16.1 million radio airplay audience impressions, experiencing a remarkable surge of 233%. Additionally, the track sold 29,000 downloads, albeit experiencing a decrease of 25%. With these impressive statistics, “Texas Hold ‘Em” earned the distinction of being the top Streaming and Airplay Gainer on the Hot 100 chart.

Over the weekend, Dolly Parton saluted Beyoncé’s musical foray into country. “I’m a big fan of Beyoncé and very excited that she’s done a country album,” Parton wrote on Instagram. “So congratulations on your Billboard Hot Country number one single.”

She added, “Can’t wait to hear the full album!”

Last week, Beyoncé made her appearance on the country music charts. One of the singles released during the Super Bowl, “Texas Hold ‘Em,” was promoted to country radio and became her first entry to the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

“Texas Hold ‘Em” started at No. 54 with a 1.1 million audience across 100 stations. According to Billboard, Columbia Nashville emailed the single to country stations.

While some radio stations balked at including Beyoncé’s new single in their rotations, Bo Matthews, program director of KBAY in San Jose, immediately added the single.

“We immediately added it [in] a sub-power rotation, which is where we put top-trending new music,” Matthews said. “I want people to hear it. One of the biggest artists in the world delivered a great country record for us to have fun with, and the song is really good. We are in the business of creating excitement for our listeners and I’m embracing the moment. Plus, there is plenty of room for great artists, even from other genres. It’s a big country tent.”

“Texas Hold ‘Em” also hit No. 38 on the Pop airplay channel.

The post Candace Owens on Beyoncé’s Country Music: ‘She’s More Country Than Taylor Swift Ever Was’ first appeared on The Source.

The post Candace Owens on Beyoncé’s Country Music: ‘She’s More Country Than Taylor Swift Ever Was’ appeared first on The Source.

Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” Ascends to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100

Beyoncé Announces 'Act II' Album, Releases Two New Singles

All hail Queen Bey as she once again presides over the Billboard Hot 100. Beyoncé has taken over the top spot on the single’s chart with “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

The single is the ninth chart-topper for Beyoncé, her most recent being “Break My Soul” in 2022.

According to Luminate, “Texas Hold ‘Em” saw significant growth in various metrics during the tracking week of Feb. 16-22. The song garnered 29 million streams, marking a 51% increase, and received 16.1 million radio airplay audience impressions, experiencing a remarkable surge of 233%. Additionally, the track sold 29,000 downloads, albeit experiencing a decrease of 25%. With these impressive statistics, “Texas Hold ‘Em” earned the distinction of being the top Streaming and Airplay Gainer on the Hot 100 chart.

Over the weekend, Dolly Parton saluted Beyoncé’s musical foray into country. “I’m a big fan of Beyoncé and very excited that she’s done a country album,” Parton wrote on Instagram. “So congratulations on your Billboard Hot Country number one single.”

She added, “Can’t wait to hear the full album!”

Last week, Beyoncé made her appearance on the country music charts. One of the singles released during the Super Bowl, “Texas Hold ‘Em,” was promoted to country radio and became her first entry to the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

“Texas Hold ‘Em” started at No. 54 with a 1.1 million audience across 100 stations. According to Billboard, Columbia Nashville emailed the single to country stations.

While some radio stations balked at including Beyoncé’s new single in their rotations, Bo Matthews, program director of KBAY in San Jose, immediately added the single.

“We immediately added it [in] a sub-power rotation, which is where we put top-trending new music,” Matthews said. “I want people to hear it. One of the biggest artists in the world delivered a great country record for us to have fun with, and the song is really good. We are in the business of creating excitement for our listeners and I’m embracing the moment. Plus, there is plenty of room for great artists, even from other genres. It’s a big country tent.”

“Texas Hold ‘Em” also hit No. 38 on the Pop airplay channel.

The post Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” Ascends to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 first appeared on The Source.

The post Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” Ascends to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 appeared first on The Source.

Do We Still Need Genre? On SZA, Beyoncé, And The Marketing Of ‘Black’ Music

SZA
Getty Image/Merle Cooper

Look up the term “genre” in regards to music, and you’re likely to land on a straightforward definition. Merriam-Webster refers to it as a category of artistic musical or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content — a description that leaves little to the imagination. When it comes to the reality of genre in the overall music landscape, however, the connotation is a bit more complicated.

Back when popular music first hit radio airwaves, “genre” quickly became more than just a simple characteristic of sound. Instead, it became a way to determine what listeners of certain frequencies might want to listen to, often based on which personal characteristics of the musicians programmers thought they’d relate to. That marketing of music placed artists into neat little boxes, some based on racist categorization of artists, with little thought to the style, form, or content of their music. One example of these musical microaggressions was Tina Turner’s 1966 song, “River Deep — Mountain High.” The seismic pop number was pushed out of radio play because — as her ex-partner and producer Ike Turner revealed in the HBO documentary Tina — it was “too white for Black jockeys and too Black for white jockeys.”

Unfortunately, five decades later, as seen in the 2024 Grammys ceremony, that problem reared its head again. This time. SZA, an artist whose sound falls into alternative, pop, and R&B categories depending on the track, scooped up multiple wins in the R&B category, snagging Best R&B Song for “Snooze” and Best R&B Album for SOS. The same juxtaposition of hip-hop-inspired lyrical delivery with melodic harmonies is present in another album track, “Ghost In The Machine” featuring indie genius Phoebe Bridgers, but that song was relocated to a “pop” category and picked up the Grammy Award Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Does one alternative rock artist plus one R&B artist equal a pop duo? What was it about that song in comparison to every other song on SZA’s SOS that relegated it to pop?

The categorization confusion hasn’t been lost on SZA, who told Alternative Press last year that the lack of R&B sounds on her latest album initially confused fans. “I definitely felt like half of the people [were] like, ‘I wish this was R&B, and it’s not, and I hate it.’ And I was like, ‘Aww, I’m sorry, but also I don’t know…’ It is what it is,” she said, adding, “Sometimes you can’t fault people for putting you in a box if you don’t at least show them, and I definitely had to take responsibility for showing people who I was.”

She also told Consequence in 2022, that she was “so tired of being pegged as [an] R&B artist.” “I feel like that’s super disrespectful because people are just like, ‘Oh, ’cause you’re Black, this is what you have to be’ — like, put in a box. And I hate that,” she added. She went on to say that she found the label “lazy” and that although she loved making “Black music, period,” that didn’t mean that Black music unequivocally meant R&B. “We started rock ‘n’ roll,” she said. “Why can’t we just be expansive and not reductive?” SOS debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, proving that fans, even the ones who may have been surprised by her direction, could handle an album that traveled into gospel, grunge, pop-punk, and rap soundscapes fearlessly.

There’s an energy in the industry that does seem to be moving in diverse, expansive, and less reductive directions. Take, for instance, women sweeping most wins in major categories at the Grammys this year or Paramore becoming the first female-fronted band to win the award for Best Rock Album. There were also the predictions of SZA making history with SOS and hopes that she’d pick up the Best Album of The Year award, making her the first Black woman in 25 years to do so. All the signs were there: a record-breaking, 10-week No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 (marking the longest-running No. 1 album released by a woman in nearly seven years), 11 billion streams (and counting), and groundbreaking moments like her No. 1 hit “Kill Bill.” Fellow record-breaker Taylor Swift took home the ultimate win that night with her album Midnights, which also nabbed her the win for Best Pop Vocal Album. Despite Swift getting her start in country music, she’s had little issue shifting her category of genre, and with it, the associated radio stations and Grammy categorizations. Is this something allotted to all artists? What is it about SZA’s sound that doesn’t allow the same level of sonic shapeshifting?

Speaking of country and sonic shapeshifting, Beyoncé is currently ramping up to release an album filled with so much twang, so much aesthetically oversized cowboy paraphernalia, that it’s hard to keep a straight face while saying the album will be pop and not country. In fact, many fans, catching wind of the R&B, hip-hop, and definitely pop superstar being pushed off of country radio play called into stations, asking why the star’s two tracks “Texas Hold ‘Em’” and “16 Carriages” weren’t hitting the airwaves. When Oklahoma’s country music station KYKC decided not to play Beyoncé’s new songs, one fan who reached out received the response that the station wouldn’t be playing the track because “we are a country music station.” But when the Beyhive reached out to the station, they added it to the rotation. Now, both tracks are dominating the Hot Country Songs chart with “Texas Hold ‘Em” at No. 1 and “16 Carriages” at No. 9.

The idea of genre as an appropriate categorization of music is being challenged with each passing release week. Still, non-Black artists can move into new sonic territory with an ease not given to their Black counterparts. It’s an unfair limitation that impacts sales, accolades, and promotions, barring these artists from access to larger, more diverse audiences. It also denies those fans the opportunity to be exposed to groundbreaking artists.

So maybe the issue of genre categorization based on race could be solved by an outpouring of disgruntled fans like the Beyhive calling it out or an artist like SZA blatantly stating the obvious when it comes to the alternative leanings of their sound. Perhaps it’s something that can be dismantled as we shine a light on the issue itself, and demand better fitting alternatives.

Or maybe genre itself has become an archaic way of describing music, limiting multi-faceted artists who’ve already pushed past the limitations forced on them from marketing and categorization, because much like SZA recently said herself via X, “I’m complicated and aware it can be annoying. So grateful for those that take time to learn me love me and accept me.” Maybe we all just have more learning to do.