Beyonce Slams Award Shows and Radio After Cowboy Carter Backlash

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

Beyoncé has called out “all the record labels, every radio station, every awards show” after facing backlash for her new country album, Cowboy Carter.

The 42-year-old’s foray into country music had been met with resistance from some country music fans and country music radio stations who ignored fan requests to play the songs on air.

Dukes of Hazzard actor John Schneider was also accused of racism when he compared the “Crazy in Love” singer’s ambitions to step into the new genre to a dog marking its territory, during an interview with conservative network One America News.

Black artists joining the country music scene has long been a controversial issue despite rhythm & blues, created by Black musicians, having inspired the genre.

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But on Monday, April 1, Beyoncé hit back at the criticism by telling the audience at the iHeartRadio Music Awards that the music industry needs to become “more open to the joy and liberation that comes from enjoying art with no preconceived notions.”

The singer-songwriter, who last month became the first Black woman to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country chart with her catchy track “Texas Hold ‘Em,” appeared on-stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for the show hosted by Ludacris, where she received the Innovator Award from soul legend Stevie Wonder.

Beyonce receives the Innovator Award at iHeart Radio Awards
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

Wearing a black leather suit with a matching cowboy hat, she thanked the 25-time Grammy winner for playing the harmonica on her version of Dolly Parton’s 1973 hit “Jolene,” which features on Cowboy Carter.

“Whenever anyone asks me if there’s anyone that I could listen to for the rest of my life, it’s always you,” she told him, before dedicating her award to those who have “dedicated their lives and their art to creating shifts.”

She mentioned Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Tracy Chapman, Linda Martell, Prince, André 3000, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson.

“[They] defied any label placed upon them, thank you for executing your dream so we could all follow,” she said.

Beyonce also thanked her husband, Jay-Z, describing him as “my rock, my best friend, I love you” and her “three beautiful children who continue to be my inspiration, my biggest blessing.”

The mother of three has also given Black women in the music industry — like Mickey Guyton, K. Michelle and Tyla — their flowers.

“With opportunity comes possibility. The possibilities are endless with you @Beyonce,” Guyton, 40, wrote via X on Friday, March 29, alongside photos of a bouquet of white flowers and a note from Bey herself.

“Thank you for opening doors for me, queen. Keep shining,” the note read, signed with “love and respect” from Beyoncé.

In 2020, Guyton became the first Black female artist to be nominated for Best Country Solo Performance at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards for her song “Black Like Me.” That same year, she was the first Black female artist to perform at the Academy of Country Music Awards.

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The gifts didn’t stop there, as musician K. Michelle also shared photos of her white flower bouquet via Instagram on Friday as well, with a similar note of support from the “16 Carriages” singer. “I love what you’ve been doing and I know it’s not easy to enter a new space,” Beyoncé wrote to Michelle, 42. “Sending you positivity and respect. I hope to meet you one day.”

Beyoncé released Cowboy Carter on Friday. Her album features 27 tracks with features from Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Dolly Parton, Linda Martell and Willie Nelson. Along with original tracks, she covered Parton’s “Jolene” and the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

She kicked off her cowgirl era by dropping “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages” following her Verizon commercial during Super Bowl LVIII. In the ad, Tony Hale challenged her to break the internet. After failing multiple times, Beyoncé said, “OK, they ready, drop the new music.”

Though Cowboy Carter is her first country album, it is the second installment of a three-part project following the release of Renaissance in 2022.

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