Apr 2, 2024 - Music

All of Beyoncé's Louisiana nods on "Cowboy Carter"

Beyonce and Jay-Z pose for a photo. Beyonce tips a cowboy hat she's wearing as Jay-Z flashes too fingers and bites his lip.

Beyoncé gave a hint of her new country direction as she and Jay-Z attended the Grammys in February. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

One of the best parts of a new Beyoncé release is finding out who she collaborated with to make it happen.

Why it matters: Beyoncé worked with some Louisiana talent to make "Cowboy Carter" come to life.

The big picture: The star's newest album takes a twangy turn into country, which as Beyoncé clarifies in the epic construction of the album, has always been a part of Black America.

  • Listeners don't have to dig deep to find what NPR described as "a well of discovery, full of samples [and] sonic Easter eggs."
  • That's where we find a few examples among the liner notes and sounds of the Louisiana connections to "Cowboy Carter."

In the very first track, Beyoncé brought in New Orleans multi-instrumentalist Jon Batiste as producer.

  • Batiste called the experience of working on "American Requiem" "an extraordinary alignment" as collaborators worked to "dismantle the genre machine."

On "Just For Fun," Beyoncé taps Shreveport's own Willie Jones as a guest vocalist.

  • The artist got his break after performing on "X Factor" over a decade ago.
  • But lately, the New York Times says, he's become known for "a savvy blend of radio-ready country and the swagger of Southern rap."

Caveat: With the "Oh Louisiana" interlude, Beyoncé revisits Chuck Berry's track of the same title.

  • Despite the name, it doesn't have any express ties to the state beyond lyrical imagination.
  • Berry, a St. Louis, Missouri,-native, penned the song for his Chess Records album "San Francisco Dues," recorded in Michigan.

Zoom in: Look and listen closely, and you can hear more subtle Louisiana references.

  • On "Jolene," and as she did on "Formation," for example, Beyoncé tips a cap to her mother's Creole Louisiana heritage.
  • Zydeco fans will also recognize flashes of accordion and washboards.

Go deeper: Meet Black up-and-coming country artists on "Cowboy Carter."


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