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A Dissection of Beyonce's Album Title "Cowboy Carter"

Stacey Addo | Arts & Entertainment Editor


Cowboy Carter/ Beyonce/2024


Beyonce’s new Album “Cowboy Carter” dropped today (March 29th). The album is a part of her three-act project with each album pulling from a genre that is underrepresented by Black artists. Her first act was her album Renaissance which pulled inspiration from house music. Act III is speculated to take on the rock genre. But right now, the Texas native will pull from country music for Act II.


In a photo posted on Instagram on March 27, the artist posted the list of songs and guest artists to be featured on the album. On the list included songs "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold ‘em" which landed her a spot as the first Black woman with the number one single on the Hot Country Songs. Being the first black woman to do so. Also featured on the album list is a new version of "Jolene" by Dolly Parton who even speaks on the track Dolly P. Also featured on the list is country star Willie Nelson, stars like Miley Cyrus and Post Malone, along with countless other artists including Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts, four up and coming black country artists. In total, the album has 27 tracks.


The Origin Story

Before the release of the album, on Instagram, the singer shared that this album has been a work in progress for the past five years. The inspiration to make this album came from an experience where she felt unwelcome. She said, “The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me.” Allegedly the experience she’s referring to is the 2016 Country Music Awards.


On the 50th anniversary, Beyonce performed her song “Daddy Lessons” with the Dixie Chicks' song “Long Time Gone”. Online, people had mixed reactions. With Beyonce having leaned more into activism with Black Lives Matter and The Chicks being actively political, many country fans expressed their anger and comments turned from angry and political, to blatantly racist. Beyonce supporters began to notice that videos and announcement posts announcing the singer's performance were deleted seemingly due to the backlash. But the chief executive of the CMAs claims to have taken it down due to the request of Beyonce and her team.


The Carter Family and Cowboy Carter

In order to put together this album, the artist pulled from the history of country music. Even the title “Cowboy Carter” which first drew some raised eyebrows seems to acknowledge country history along with being a play on her last name. 


A user on Tiktok named @beysus.christ gave her interpretation of what the album title referenced. The Carter Family recorded between 1927 and 1956 and became the first vocal group to become country stars. In 1928, Lesley Riddle met A.P. Carter, who founded the Carter Family band. Before this, Riddle injured himself at a cement plant and had to have his right leg amputated. In his free time, he taught himself how to play guitar. Together, Carter and Riddle embarked on song-collecting trips as Riddle had a great memory and was known as a human recorder. Riddle split his time between Kingsport, Tennessee, and the Carter home in Virginia. His guitar style made an impression on Maybelle Carter of the Carter family who incorporated it into her style, with the style eventually becoming known as the Carter Scratch.


The Carter family took much of its music from families that had music passed down music through generations. The group also borrowed much of their music from Mexican musicians who lived near the border. With a major theme being the reclaiming of the genre and its history, the artist may definitely be referencing this history through this album title.


Beyince

On March 20th the artist posted a photo of herself naked with braided hair and a sash saying “act ii Beyincé”. While many thought this was a spelling error, just like most of the things Beyonce does, this was very intentional. The spelling references a clinical error that happened with her mother.


Her mother's maiden name was Celestine Beyonce. Being the youngest in her family she noticed that the spelling of her last name differed from the rest of her siblings and her parents Agnes Beyincé and Lumis Albert Beyincé. It came down to a spelling mistake from the hospital and instead of fixing it they were told, “Be happy that you’re getting a birth certificate’ because, at one time, Black people didn’t get birth certificates.”


Beyonce/ "Beyince"/ 2024


The album is all about the reclamation both of Beyonce’s own personal history and the history of country music. The album experiments with the country music sound, recognizes many country artist both legendary and up and coming. The artist said, “This ain’t a Country album. This is a “Beyoncé” album. This is act ii COWBOY CARTER, and I am proud to share it with y’all!”

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