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Beyoncé is a country star. That shouldn’t be too shocking after all, Beyoncé is a Southerner, and her family roots and ties are deep. Yet the reception of her country album and aesthetics are split down the middle, with most people against Beyoncé’s country claiming that she doesn’t understand or emulate country and southern culture. 

Well, that is a form of dog-whistle racism that predates Beyoncé’s entry into the country scene. There have always been stricter criteria for black folk entering the country scene. A recent example is Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road: a song filled to the crim with country motifs and a “country” beat being classified as pop, despite him identifying the music as a country piece.

country

Beyoncé Via People Magazine

Country music has a legacy of gatekeeping and systemically keeping people who don’t fit the mold out. Despite the gatekeeping and erasure of black and brown voices, black people have contributed a great deal to the genre and continue to contribute to the genre. 

Here are  3 young country artists breaking the mold around what it means to be a country musician in the 21st century. The intentional gatekeeping and exclusion of black artists is as old as the recording industry itself. 

Reyna Roberts 

Recognizable from a mile away with her signature fire truck red hair and cowboy hat. She has changed the perception of country music through her TikTok account which has over 220,000 followers and 1.9 million likes. Her album Bad Girl Bible- which she describes as a trek through love, heartbreak, and finding herself through religion.

Shaboozey  

Shaboozey’s distinctive baritone and rap influence sets him apart from the rest of the country scene.  his music is comprised of the bare-bone elements of country music, occasionally accompanied by a modern influence. He has two albums out, and BET describes his music influence and tastes as limitless, meshing all types of genres and influences into his country music and style. His recent color set shows the rawness and range of his vocal ability. 

Britney Spencer

Britney Spencer uses music and her songwriting process as a diary of sorts. Her debut album “My Stupid Life” has been a place for her to mold life, truth, and wild imagination into songs according to her website.  She has shared the stage with a variety of artists from different genres and spaces, including the likes of Meg thee Stallion to name a few.  This is only the beginning of her rise in the country music space as she has been cited as “ one to watch” by Rolling Stone.

country

Source: @BrittNicx

These young stars are taking the forefront in a genre that has historically excluded black people and people of colour, and they are changing the face of country music making it more accessible and broadening what it means to be “country”.

These artists and countless others are definitely ones to watch in the future. 

By Gugulethu Khumalo

If you enjoyed reading this article, be sure to check out this other fascinating piece!

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