With Beyoncé’s Foray Into Country Music, The Genre Is Finally Breaking Free From The Stereotypes That Have Long Dogged It

Beyonce BY WILLIAM NASH PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN STUDIES AND ENGLISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURES MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE On Super Bowl Sunday, Beyoncé released two country songs – “ 16 Carriages ” and “ Texas Hold ‘Em ” – that elicited a mix of admiration and indignation. This is not her first foray into the genre, but it is her most successful and controversial entry. As of last week, Beyoncé became the first Black woman to have a No. 1 song on the country charts . At the same time, country music stations like KYKC in Oklahoma initially refused to play the record because it was “not country.” Many non-listeners stereotype country music as being white, politically conservative, militantly patriotic and rural. And you can certainly find artists and songs that fit that bill. But the story of country has always been more complicated, and debates about race and authenticity in country are nothing new; they’ve plagued country artists, record companies and listeners for over a century. As someone

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