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Cowboy hat-wearing Beyoncé with husband Jay-Z at the Grammy Awards


Kevin Mazur/The Recording Academy/Getty Images

Decades after the achievements of the civil rights movement, parts of the US radio landscape are still strictly divided by race. In particular, the genres of hip-hop and R&B on the one hand and country music on the other still represent a separation based on what is

referred to as

race in the US discourse.

White rappers like Eminem and Jack Harlow have repeatedly made it into the hip-hop charts, but remained a rare exception, as did black country singers.

Two songs in the charts

The singer Beyoncé has now achieved something historic: As the industry magazine "Billboard" reports, her song "Texas Hold 'em" is the new number one on the hot country songs chart, which is compiled from streaming, airplay and sales data. Beyoncé had introduced "Texas Hold 'em" and a second new track, "16 Carriages," in a Super Bowl commercial, the latter of which entered the country charts at number nine.

According to Variety, Beyoncé is the first black woman to top the country charts. Previously, Darius Rucker, the former frontman of Hootie & The Blowfish, had several number one hits - but a singer like Mickey Guyton only made it to the top of the country charts in Canada. Never in the USA.

Beyoncé's change of genre had already sparked controversial reactions within the scene. The Oklahoma radio station KYKC, for example, initially boasted that it would not play the singer on its country program. Only after online protests and mass (coordinated) listener requests did KYKC give in.

This isn't the first time there's been a controversy surrounding music by an African-American artist in the country music scene. In 2019, Billboard magazine, which publishes the US charts, removed Lil Nas The reason given was that the song did not contain enough country elements.

When Beyoncé performed her song "Daddy Lessons" with the Dixie Chicks (now The Chicks) at the Country Music Awards in 2016, some audience members complained that a non-country musician shouldn't be part of the event, according to Entertainment Weekly be. Others saw such comments as pure racism.

Country musician Rhiannon Giddens, who is also featured on Beyoncé's new album, discussed the African-American roots of country music, especially the banjo, a few years ago. Before Beyoncé, who grew up in Texas, other stars who mainly belonged to the R&B genre had successfully tried country, including Ray Charles, Tina Turner and the Pointer Sisters.