Feb 23, 2024 - Economy

Beyoncé still fights stereotypes in industry she dominates

Photograph of a woman wearing a black and white striped dress performing on stage (it's Beyoncé)

Beyoncé performs onstage in July 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood

Even Beyoncé — who has more Grammy wins than anyone — still struggles to break barriers and stereotypes in an industry she dominates.

The big picture: She just became the first Black woman to top Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart," but not without sparking renewed debate about diversity in the genre.

Catch up quick: An Oklahoma country music station initially refused to give the song, "Texas Hold 'Em" airtime, saying she wasn't country.

  • Rhodes College professor Charles Hughes told the New York Times that the initial decision not to play Beyoncé was emblematic of how "country radio has systematically excluded artists of color."
  • She was targeted by many conservative country music fans in 2016 when she sang with the Dixie Chicks, with some accusing her of not belonging.

Between the lines: Beyoncé's newest songs point toward her efforts to highlight Black musicians' long, but often overlooked, history within country music.

  • Last year, her set designer for the Renaissance World Tour told British Vogue Beyoncé was "interested in country" and that "she wanted to research its African-American roots."

"Texas Hold 'Em" nods to that tradition. It opens with a charging banjo riff care of the celebrated folk musician Rhiannon Giddens, who has helped draw attention to the African origins of the banjo and the ways African-American musicians shaped the country and folk genres.

What they're saying: "I wanted to break all of the stereotypes of the Black superstar, whether falling victim to drugs or alcohol or the absurd misconception that Black women were angry," Beyoncé told Harper's Bazaar in 2021 about her career.

  • She also cited, in the same interview, the "history of the American Black cowboy" as inspiration for her then Ivy Park clothing line collection.
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