Beyoncé becomes first Black woman to top country charts

Beyoncé on Wednesday became the first Black woman to score a No. 1 hit in the history of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs, after “Texas Hold ‘Em” debuted at the top of the chart.

“Texas Hold ‘Em,” a twangy, feel-good ode to the pop superstar’s home state, and the lead single off her forthcoming eighth studio album, dropped during the Super Bowl, alongside another track titled “16 Carriages,” immediately after a Verizon commercial starring Beyoncé.

The new album, which appears to be country, will be released on March 29 and was described as “act ii” of the three-act project that began with Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed “Renaissance” album, which she released in 2022.

Wednesday’s milestone marked a cultural shift for country music, a genre often seen as exclusive and that for decades has had a fraught relationship with artists of color. With “Texas Hold ‘Em,” Beyoncé finally trumped the record set by Linda Martell more than 50 years ago, when her song “Color Him Father,” which peaked at No. 22, became the highest-ranking single by a Black woman on the country charts, according to Billboard.

Beyonce wearing a white cowboy hat, sitting next to Jay-Z during the GRAMMY Awards in 2024
Beyonce and Jay-Z during the 66th GRAMMY Awards on February 4, 2024, in Los Angeles.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Beyoncé also became the first woman to have topped both the country and R&B/hip-hop charts since the genre song charts were launched in 1958, Billboard reported, adding that she joins Morgan Wallen, Justin Bieber, Billy Ray Cyrus and Ray Charles as the only acts to have led both charts.

“Texas Hold ‘Em” also debuted at No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart, right below Jack Harlow’s “Lovin on Me” and right above Kanye West and Ty Dollar $ign’s new song “Carnival.” It marks her 22nd top-ten single on the general charts, Billboard reported, signaling no end in sight to the singer’s adventurous, indefatigable and, by most accounts, legendary 27-year career.

Beyoncé’s bold foray into country almost immediately sparked controversy, after KYKC-FM, a country radio radio station in Oklahoma, initially declined to play the artist. The station manager later told CBS News he hadn’t known Beyoncé had released two country songs and confirmed he had added “Texas Hold ‘Em” to the station’s playlist.

“We have always celebrated Cowboy Culture growing up in Texas,” Tina Knowles, Beyoncé’s mother, wrote on Instagram alongside a montage of Beyoncé over the years wearing cowboy hats, responding to allegations the singer had made an abrupt or exploitative genre jump.

“We also always understood that it was not just about it belonging to White culture only. In Texas there is a huge Black cowboy culture,” Tina Knowles added, noting that she had taken Beyoncé and her sister Solange to rodeos annually when they were children, adorned in Western clothing. “It was definitely part of our culture growing up.”

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