Last summer, die-hard fans of iconic pop superstar Beyoncé believed her “Renaissance” tour appearance in Nashville could portend the announcement of a countrified second half of her 2022 album.
Her custom Louis Vuitton western inspired look created by Pharrell Williams at last week’s Grammys was another hint.
They were right – just six months early. Beyoncé made her surprise at the Super Bowl.
In a June 2022 Variety article, a source said the album that became “Renaissance” would “feature both dance and country-leaning tracks.” However, it was “unclear whether the country songs will appear as a separate album.”
The 41-year-old is a Catholic-raised Houston native who sang in a Methodist church choir and has Creole roots on her mother’s side of the family.
Religious East Texans with Louisiana bloodlines are as familiar with country music as Tennessee whiskey and strawberry wine.
Now, society may have evolved to a point where an African-American pop queen’s ability to naturally fall into a secure, sustainable place in country music — a genre with which she’s always had a natural adjacency — has finally arrived.
Here are six moments when the performer has represented the genre.
Beyoncé performed at the Houston Rodeo four times between 2001-2007
For two weeks each year, Houston’s nine-decade-old Livestock Show and Rodeo attracts over 2.5 million people to a 70,000-seat stadium for rodeo action, livestock auctions and competitions, a carnival, barbecue and nightly concert lineups that have included everyone from Gene Autry and George Strait, to Bon Jovi and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Selena and Taylor Swift, plus yes, Janet Jackson and Beyoncé.
As a member of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé told the Houston Chronicle in 2002 that “coming back home” to the same place she saw Selena, and Frankie Beverly and Maze perform “felt good.” As a solo performer in 2004, she rode into the stadium on horseback before playing material from her debut album “Dangerously In Love.” Finally, in 2007, she previewed her “The Beyoncé Experience” solo tour.
Did you listen to this yet?Listen to Beyoncé’s two new songs, ’16 Carriages’ and ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’
Sugarland and Beyoncé perform ‘Irreplaceable’ at the 2007 American Music Awards
There’s a simple reason Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles felt comfortable singing on Queen Bey’s 2006 single.
“Irreplaceable” songwriter Ne-Yo originally wrote the track with Faith Hill or Shania Twain in mind. However, after adding drums, he felt it would be a more comfortable fit with Beyoncé’s pop and R&B stylings.
“I love country music,” Ne-Yo told BlackFilm.com in 2007. “I just basically did my version of how an R&B, country-western song would sound like in my opinion.”
And given Beyonce’s Louisiana roots, the version of “Irreplaceable” that Nettles and Kristian Bush sang at 2007’s American Music Awards featuring Zydeco flair makes complete sense, too.
Reba McEntire covers Beyoncé’s ‘If I Were A Boy’ in 2010
For a June 2010 edition of CMT’s “Unplugged,” the “Fancy” vocalist first performed a countrified take on Beyoncé’s 2008 folk-rock ballad. McEntire was initially unfamiliar with the song but found it lyrically “incredible” and easily translatable into a more traditional country format.
For her 2010 album “All The Women I Am,” a proper studio version of the track was recorded, which McEntire later reflected that she “didn’t feel good about” and critics called a case of the artist “trying harder than necessary” to stay relevant.
Overall, the Country Music Hall of Famer remained positive about the experience stating, “I just think music is music. You’ve got good and you’ve got bad, and I try to stay on the good side.”
Beyoncé performs ‘Daddy Lessons’ with The Chicks in 2016
In a 2016 Billboard interview, Kevin Cossom, the song’s co-writer, describes “Daddy Lessons” as written from “the perspective of a woman or how they’re feeling” and coming together similar to Lainey Wilson’s breakout hit “Things A Man Oughta Know.”
“It painted a country picture in our minds. It sounded tough. You see the whiskey on the table. You see the rifle. It just had that feel to it. It didn’t take the hip-hop element to make it tough,” Cossom said. “(That comes) with her being from Texas.”
Beyoncé’s appearance with The Chicks to perform their collaborative version of the track at the Country Music Association’s 2016 awards show was referred to by NPR’s Jewly Hight as representing “something more like reclamation than invasion, since the genre’s roots entwine with African-American folk, blues, string band and pop contributions.”
CMA CEO Sarah Trahern said the performance was “about the music, not about politics.” Added Scotty McCreery to Rolling Stone: “I don’t think (Beyoncé would) come to a country show if she didn’t really respect what (country music is) all about.”
Beyoncé releases a rodeo-inspired Ivy Park clothing collection in 2021
Now seven years old, Beyoncé’s launched her Ivy Park athleisure clothing line to, as she said in a 2016 interview, “inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance.”
By 2021, she was three years into partnering with Adidas for the brand. She rolled out her “Ivy Park Rodeo” line, which in a news release was described as “inspired by the inimitable style and undeniable influence of Black cowboys and cowgirls” and celebrating “the formidable impact of Black men and women on American Western culture.”
Adidas said the release was “a bold, contemporary celebration of classic Americana and Western wear reimagined for today” and “audacious design fused with inspiration from the Black cowboy experience.”
Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton potentially featured on the new album?
April 2023 social media reports stated that Beyoncé’s Paris “Renaissance” tour rehearsals involved “a Dolly Parton cover song and a collaboration with another A-list singer.”
In a June 2017 Buzzfeed interview, Miranda Lambert stated, “If I could collaborate with another artist, there’s a lot — but, I’m a huge fan of Beyoncé. Probably every girl’s answer would be Beyoncé.” Two years prior, she stated, “One strong female artist I look up to is Beyoncé. She handles herself well and has such class.”
As far as Parton goes, the 77-year-old pop culture icon and Country Music Hall of Famer stated on a March 2022 edition of “The Daily Show” that hearing a rendition of her 1974 classic “Jolene” “done in just a big way, kind of like how Whitney (Houston) did my ‘I Will Always Love You’ would be a marvelous day in my life.”