Beyoncé fan’s radio plea reignites country music debate

In Oklahoma, a small country music station initially denied listeners’ requests to play Beyoncé’s new song, but was forced to change after an outcry from fans who said black artists were often excluded from the genre attitude.

On Tuesday morning, Justin McGowan asked the DJ at Ada’s country music radio station KYKC to play “Texas Hold ‘Em,” the two songs Beyoncé announced in a Super Bowl ad on Sunday One of the new songs.

Beyoncé, who grew up in Houston, sings about hoedowns, and the twangy song also features black Grammy winner Rhiannon Giddens on banjo and Viola playing.

Station manager Roger Harris emailed Mr. McGowan and was met with a terse rebuff: “We will not play Beyoncé on KYKC because we are a country music station.” In sending the email, Harris inadvertently ignited a new flame in a long-running debate over how black artists fit into a genre that has its roots in black music.

In a Super Bowl commercial, Beyoncé joked that her new album will “break the internet.” She wasn’t kidding.

Mr McGowan posted screenshots of the rejection on social media and tagged Beyoncé’s fan group in a post. The post received 3.4 million views on X and sparked discussions on Reddit and TikTok.

“This is absolutely ridiculous and racist,” McGowan wrote, urging people to email the station to request the song.

Harris, a station manager for 48 years, said fans sent hundreds of emails and phone calls to KYKC criticizing the station for not playing the song.

“I’ve never experienced anything like the outpouring of communication in support of this song that we’ve received in my career,” he said in an interview.

In between fielding calls and emails from angry Beyoncé fans, Mr. Harris said, the network scrambled to procure a high-quality version of “Texas Hold’em,” which DJs played three times in rotation on Tuesday night.

Beyoncé’s new song appears on her upcoming album, which she calls “Second Act,” part of a three-volume project that music critics say aims to restore black roots in pop music.

Mr. Harris said he was unaware of the project. He said the Chickasaw Nation-owned radio network regularly plays Beyoncé on its Top 40 and adult hit stations.

“We didn’t play her on country radio because she wasn’t a country artist,” he said. “Well, now I think she wants to do it too, and we’re all for it.”

Harris said their rotation depends on where the song is on the charts and what’s being played on larger stations.

This isn’t the first time Beyoncé’s country music credentials have been questioned by the genre’s arbiters.

When the star submitted “Daddy Lessons,” a song from her 2016 album “Lemonade,” to the Grammys’ country category, the Recording Academy’s country music committee rejected it, the Associated Press reported at the time. (Beyoncé wears a white cowgirl hat and Louis Vuitton leather suit for her Renaissance World Tour and this year’s Grammy Awards Brought in rodeo fashion.

In 2019, hip-hop artist Lil Nas

The Black Opry, a social media hub for black artists and fans of country, blues, folk and Americana, capitalized on Beyonce’s radio controversy to direct her fans to playlists on Spotify. Other black country music artists.

Charles Hughes, director of Rhodes College’s Lynn and Henry Turley Center in Memphis, said the Oklahoma radio station’s initial firing of Beyoncé was emblematic of “country radio’s systematic exclusion of artists of color,” especially women. artist.

But Dr. Hughes said if anyone can break down country barriers, it’s Beyoncé and her fans, the BeyHive.

“Maybe that power will create a bigger space for all these great black women making country music,” he said, “and make it more aligned with the people who love country music and the country that country music represents.”

audio producer Kate Winslet.

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