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The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Review: Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter

Album cover of Beyoncés Cowboy Carter.
Beyoncé
Album cover of Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter.”

In music history, few artists can switch genres like Beyoncé does. From her rise as the queen of R&B to her breakthrough into pop and then house music, Beyoncé has continually found different ways to express herself musically. Perhaps her most unexpected switch to date comes in the form of “Cowboy Carter,” her eighth studio album, which serves as both a tribute to the rich history of country music’s black heritage and a statement to her own evolution as an artist.

In the summer of 2022, Beyoncé released her seventh studio album, a house music hit, “Renaissance: Act I.” The album was said to be the first part of a trilogy with promises of later parts to come. Finally, on March 29 of this year, Beyoncé dropped her long-awaited album “Cowboy Carter.”

The origins of “Cowboy Carter” can be traced back to a pivotal moment in 2019 when Beyoncé took the stage at the Country Music Awards and ignited controversy. For many fans within the country music community, the sight of a black woman commanding the spotlight in the country genre was a threat to tradition, sparking much criticism. Yet, in the face of backlash, Beyoncé chose not to retreat but to go all-in, deciding to take a journey deeper into country music that would ultimately result in the creation of “Cowboy Carter.”

At the heart of the album lies a profound reverence for the deep black roots of country music, a heritage that has long been overshadowed and overlooked. Black musicians have played an integral role in shaping the sound and soul of country music, yet their contributions have often been relegated to the margins of history. With “Cowboy Carter,” Beyoncé seeks to reclaim and celebrate this hidden history, shining a light on the unsung heroes and heroines who paved the way for future generations.

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The album’s opening track, “American Requiem,” serves as a reflection on Beyoncé’s own experiences within the country music industry, with lyrics that speak to the challenges and criticisms she has faced as a black woman navigating the genre. “There’s a lot of talking going on while I sing my song,” she sings, a subtle nod to the scrutiny and skepticism that have followed her every move. Yet, “American Requiem” is a statement and a reminder that Beyoncé will not be confined or defined by the narrow confines of others’ expectations.

In “Blackbird,” Beyoncé samples a Beatles classic. The song was written a few weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Paul McCartney said he had an imagery of broken wings and sunken eyes while longing for freedom, a blackbird.

“16 Carriages” and “Protector” are songs dedicated to Beyoncé’s experiences as a mother and walk us through her emotions while raising her children.

Yet, for all its appreciation for the past, “Cowboy Carter” is also a testament to Beyoncé’s own evolution as an artist. Throughout the album, Beyoncé deftly blends elements of classic country with her own signature style, infusing each track with her trademark blend of soulful vocals, infectious hooks, and new sounds. From the tune of “Ya Ya” to the upbeat “Tyrant”, Beyoncé proves that she is still looking to make her classic dance hits even within a new genre.

“Cowboy Carter” is a testament to the legacy of black history in country music, a celebration of the past and future of a genre that continues to change. Beyoncé highlights many up-and-coming black country artists throughout the album to continue her message for the future of country music.

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About the Contributors
Karla Berrueto
Karla Berrueto, Staff Writer
Karla is a Junior at CVHS who, along with writing, enjoys playing for the school basketball team and video games with friends. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in accounting, and continue fostering her love for time spent with family and friends. Some of her further passions include watching TV shows such as Peaky Blinders, studying history, and playing board games such as Monopoly. In the future, she hopes to go about things that make her happy, and visit wonders of the world such as the Taj Mahal.
Sundari Maharajh
Sundari Maharajh, Staff Writer
Sundari Maharajh is a 16-year-old student from California who moved to Houston at a young age. She is a Pisces and is passionate about painting, reading, and all things related to nature. She's a committed volunteer at the SPCA, adores her wiener dog Ralphie, and loves Dr. Pepper. When she's not creating art or volunteering, you can find her binge-watching "Gilmore Girls" and "Abbott Elementary".  Sundari dreams of becoming a veterinarian driven by her love for animals.

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