Beyoncé’s Historic ‘Cowboy Carter’ Album Features Icons and Rising Stars

The Texas native gave several rising stars a platform on her new album and they couldn’t be more thankful.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

April 1, 2024

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Beyoncé, Shaboozey, Tanner Adell, Reyna Roberts; Photos Provided

On Friday, March 29, Beyoncé dropped her historic eighth studio album, Cowboy Carter. To help achieve her goal of telling the stories of the original cowboys of the West and making a collection of country-influenced music that welcomes all kinds of listeners, the renowned artist tapped an impressive list of artists to join her on the project as vocalists, musicians, and orators.

Here is a look inside all of the collaborators Beyoncé worked with to bring this project to life.

Photo Courtesy Beyoncé, Cowboy Carter
Photo Courtesy Beyoncé, Cowboy Carter

Before the album was fully unveiled, fans were treated to a Rodeo-themed poster that offered a glimpse into what and who to expect from her newest collection. Among the red, white, and blue-colored shapes was a series of iconic names that have made history across the country music industry, such as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Linda Martell, another well-known female artist who is known for being the first Black country artist to perform solo at the Grand Ole Opry.

We now know that each of these critically acclaimed artists lent their vocals to both intros and full-length songs such as a reimagined version of Parton’s iconic tune, “Jolene,” “Smoke Hour II” and “Spaghetti,” which includes both Martell and rising star, Shaboozey.   

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Giving A Platform To Rising Stars

Alongside celebrating these well-known singer/songwriters, Queen Bey offered up her collection as the opportunity to give several rising stars of the new generation a platform to expose their efforts in redefining the country music sound. Emerging artists like Tiera Kennedy, Reyna Roberts, Brittney Spencer, Tanner Adell, Shaboozey, Willie Jones, each leave their mark on the track list as powerhouse vocalists who continue to break down the barriers of country music. 

These hard-working artists who have dedicated their careers to building a catalog of genre-defying music that is unapologetically true to themselves, took to their respective social media accounts to express how grateful they are to be included on the Cowboy Carter record. 

Shaboozy, who appears on “Sweet Honey Buckin’” and “Spaghetti,” shared that he was “honored” to be in the presence of not one, but two strong and “historically significant black voices” like Beyoncé and Linda Martell. 

He then added a message for Beyoncé alone as he wrote, “Thank you for always being the one to step up and kick in a door when others are afraid to. Texas born & raised, worked hard for yours. You are country. Put her in the Grand Ol’ Opry NOW! Love you!🖤🤠🐐”

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As for “Blackbiird” and “Ameriican Requiem” singer Adell, being a part of Cowboy Carter meant she could cross off a big item off her bucket list. 

“My first collab and feature of my career appears on the Beyoncé album Cowboy Carter,” she shared as she continued to express her admiration for the music icon, highlighting how the Texan has played a significant role in shaping her love for music.

“I always say Beyoncé raised me. Beyoncé taught me how to be soft but strong. A force of nature. I’ve watched her be forged like metal in the fire of this industry and she remained poised, and grateful. The last two years in Nashville I have kept my head down, counted all my blessings big and small, and tried to perfect this craft of my artistry. When I saw Renaissance last summer, I knew I was NOT working hard enough. I was reminded again watching the Renaissance documentary. I sat in that theatre bawling my eyes out and said out loud, I will work with Beyoncé in 2024. NO IDEA HOW I WAS GONNA DO THAT 😂 but I felt it in my bones.”

She went on to say how working with Beyoncé has always been a dream of hers. “Go back through every interview I have done, I get asked a million times ‘who is your dream collab’ and I have answered the same every time. Beyoncé. Thank you, Queen Bey for busting these gates wide open with this album. For letting your light spill over onto MY head. I am humbled by the thought. love you mama 🐝.”

Spencer was left speechless. She simply shared, “I’ve typed and deleted at least 10 captions. I don’t have anything clever or curated to say. I’m on a Beyonce record. The album is a masterpiece. ily @beyonce 🐝🌻”

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Several other musical pioneers across country, rock, classical and opera also appear throughout the project either as instrumentalists or featured vocals, including Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Jon Batiste, Rhiannon Giddens, Nile Rodgers, Robert Randolph, and Gary Clark, Jr. Plus, Beyoncé’s own daughter, Rumi Carter, made an adorable appearance on the track, “Protector.”

Even though Mickey Guyton, another one of country music’s trailblazers, was not featured on the album, Beyoncé made sure to recognize her work through a heartfelt note and a delivery of stunning flowers. 

The card from the “Halo” singer read, “Mickey, Thank you for opening doors for me, queen. Keep shining. Love and respect, Beyoncé.”

Guyton made sure to share this sentiment with her followers and responded, “With opportunity comes possibility. The possibilities are endless with you @beyonce. God gave me an assignment and I followed. May the doors continue to stay wide open.”

Executive produced by Beyoncé, Cowboy Carter elevates this string of featured singers/songwriters and musicians using raw instrumentals that pay homage to the music that she grew up listening to in Houston, Texas. She chose to inject each track with a mix of sounds created by the accordion, harmonica, washboard, acoustic guitar, bass ukulele, pedal steel guitar, a Vibra-Slap, mandolin, fiddle, Hammond B3 organ, tack piano, and banjo. According to a recent release, there’s also no shortage of handclaps, horseshoe steps, boot stomps on hardwood floors and even Beyoncé’s nails which were used as percussion.

“The joy of creating music is that there are no rules,” says Beyoncé. “The more I see the world evolving the more I felt a deeper connection to purity. With artificial intelligence and digital filters and programming, I wanted to go back to real instruments, and I used very old ones. I didn’t want some layers of instruments like strings, especially guitars, and organs perfectly in tune. I kept some songs raw and leaned into folk. All the sounds were so organic and human, everyday things like the wind, snaps and even the sound of birds and chickens, the sounds of nature.”

The bold and honest storytelling of these tunes was born from Beyonce’s experiences at the Rodeo where she first witnessed diversity in a gathering among people who were brought together under one roof to celebrate their love for Country music and the American lifestyle. In turn, this led each song to become its own version of a reimagined Western film, similar to the storylines found in titles such as “Five Fingers For Marseilles,” “Urban Cowboy,” “The Hateful Eight, “Space Cowboys,” “The Harder They Fall” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.” These movies were often displayed during the recording process of Cowboy Carter to keep the inspiration on track.

Photo Courtesy Of Beyoncé
Photo Courtesy Of Beyoncé

Where Does The Title “Cowboy Carter” Come From?

The character, “Cowboy Carter” stems from the original Black cowboys of the American West and is now being used to demolish the negative connotation behind the term “cowboy” and instead honor what remains of the “the strength and resiliency of these men who were the true definition of Western fortitude.”

Beyoncé admits it took over five years to create such a monumental record.

“It’s been really great to have the time and the grace to be able to take my time with it. I was initially going to put COWBOY CARTER out first, but with the pandemic, there was too much heaviness in the world. We wanted to dance. We deserved to dance. But I had to trust God’s timing.”

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Historic Chart Success

The historic success of the record began with the release of two lead singles, “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES.” Upon their debut to country radio on Feb. 13, “Texas Hold ‘Em” landed at No. 1 and “16 Carriages” placed at No. 9 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Billboard reported that the pop/R&B/hop-hop superstar’s entrance at the top of the chart with “Texas Hold ‘Em,” makes her the first Black female artist to claim the No. 1 spot. 

Then on Friday, March 29, COWBOY CARTER was named Spotify’s most-streamed album in a single day in 2024 so far. This marks the first time a country-album has earned the title of most streamed album in a single day for 2024. 

Cowboy Carter is confirmed to be a follow-up to her Renaissance album, which dropped in 2022 as part one of what is expected to be “three-act project.”

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.