Beyoncé makes history on country music charts with Texas Hold 'Em

New York, New York - Ahead of the release of her album that's set to take the country music scene by storm, Beyoncé this week became the first Black woman to top the US charts in that genre.

Beyoncé has become the first Black woman to top the US country music charts with Texas Hold 'Em, the lead single off her upcoming album Act II.
Beyoncé has become the first Black woman to top the US country music charts with Texas Hold 'Em, the lead single off her upcoming album Act II.  © Collage: screenshot/instagram/Beyoncé

Her song Texas Hold 'Em dropped smack in the middle of the Super Bowl earlier this month, and has debuted on the Billboard charts on the number one slot of Hot Country Songs.

A second single, 16 Carriages, is also on that chart, clocking in at number nine.

"Prior to the triumph for Texas Hold 'Em, no Black woman, or female known to be biracial, had previously topped" that chart, said industry tracker Billboard.

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Country is a quintessentially American style of music with influences from Africa: the banjo notably grew out of instruments brought to the United States by enslaved people in the 1600s and 1700s.

And yet, on the surface, contemporary country has developed an overwhelmingly white image.

Beyoncé highlights Black contributions to country music with Act II

Lil Nas X's 2019 hit Old Town Road was pulled from country music charts and placed under rap, highlighting a persistent prejudice against Black artists in the country genre.
Lil Nas X's 2019 hit Old Town Road was pulled from country music charts and placed under rap, highlighting a persistent prejudice against Black artists in the country genre.  © IMAGO / UPI Photo

The issue came to a head in recent years when Lil Nas X soared to viral fame with his infectious, record-breaking Old Town Road, a single that mashed banjo twangs with thumping bass and dominated the industry's most closely watched singles chart in 2019.

Controversy famously stoked the artist's rise to fame after Billboard removed the fusion novelty song from the country charts but left it on the rap list, triggering accusations that the Atlanta musician's work was pigeonholed purely because he is Black.

The tension simultaneously offered a moment to spotlight the vast contributions of Black artists to country, both past and present, including today's stars like Mickey Guyton and Brittney Spencer.

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Beyoncé's new studio album, her eighth, is set for release on March 29 and, as of now, is characterized simply as Act II.

Act I refers to the 42-year-old's album Renaissance, an ode to disco and house, which reigned over the summer of 2022 as it paid homage to the Black, queer, and working-class communities that molded the electronic dance genre, which first developed in Chicago in the 1980s.

She now appears primed to take a similar approach to country, reclaiming it as an emblem of Black American history.

Cover photo: Collage: screenshot/instagram/Beyoncé

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