Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ Transmits Joy, Honors Legends and Challenges a Segregated Industry

Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ Transmits Joy, Honors Legends and Challenges a Segregated Industry

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By Ateqah Khaki and Vinita Srivastava | The Conversation

The release of Beyoncé’s latest album, Cowboy Carter, was a much awaited event for a lot of us. There was much anticipation about this being a country album — and a lot of talk about the resistance some radio stations had and still have to that idea. That’s because country music is often falsely seen as “white music,” even though its Black historical roots are well documented.

But Beyoncé’s new album is so much more than a country album. It’s genre-defying: moving easily from country to 90s pop to 70s rock. It honours other Black musical legends, and challenges the segregation we still see and hear in the music industry today.

Today’s episode of Don’t Call Me Resilient gets into all of it, with two people who were also keenly awaiting this album’s drop.

Alexis McGee is an Assistant Professor of Writing Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her book is From Blues to Beyoncé: A Century of Black Women’s Generational Sonic Rhetorics.

Also joining the conversation is Jada Watson, Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at the School of Information Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her current research, called SongData, uses data — like radio airplay, charts, and streaming numbers — to examine representation in the country music industry.

McGee, who looks at the sonic rhetoric of Black women, says the story of Beyoncé’s album is still unfolding: “There’s a particular sound that she is leaning into in this album that I find so cathartic and I want to explore more because she’s changing something with her voice and I think we need to recognize that this is her range, this is who she is…but there’s also something different about it. She’s evolving. And it’s a great evolution.”

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