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Now White People Want Exclusive Rights to Country Music, Here’s Why History Proves Them Wrong

Billboard

Billboard

When Beyoncé released her latest visual album “Lemonade” two weeks ago, fans were eager to discuss the country song included – and so were white country music critics. But many aficionados of the genre have ignored the role Black artists played in its development.

Country Music Television published a review criticizing the singer for her song,”Daddy Lessons.” There’s no mistaking the track is not R&B. Its guitar lines, fiddles and vocal emphases are clear markers of country music, yet the CMT piece asserted that “this song is no more country than her “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

But country singer and The Voice” judge Blake Shelton disagrees.

“I can’t believe people that don’t contribute to music that criticize music, it just blows my mind and Beyonce – tell them to kiss that a–, is what I would do,” he told Entertainment Tonight.

Country station K92.3 in Orlando played the song as a “trial spin” that resulted in a massive amount of backlash, according to Salon.

“She has no place on country radio. Her music is a disgrace to music,” wrote one listener about the song. “It isn’t even music! It’s trash!”

Those comments reveal the racist attitudes cemented in country music today. But according to Vox, the genre has deep roots in Black culture, beginning with enslaved Africans. The banjo, a staple instrument in country and bluegrass music, is connected to West Africa. The ngoni and xalam are two plucked stringed instruments rooted in the region.

Guitar player and songwriter DeFord Bailey’s music was grounded in African tradition. The harmonica wizard was a breakout Black country artist in the 1920s. According to Biography, he was credited with naming the Grand Ole Opry, a country music institution.

Beyoncé isn’t the first Black artist to face white judgment for moving from R&B or hip-hop into country music. Houston Press reports Nelly dealt with similar pushback from country radio when he released a duet with country artist Tim McGraw. Yet for all the backlash, white listeners love Ray Charles’ “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.” Vox reports the 1962 album was the first country record to sell 1 million units.

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5 thoughts on “Now White People Want Exclusive Rights to Country Music, Here’s Why History Proves Them Wrong

  1. Chuck Finley says:

    Well let's ask the people who the father of Country Music would be considered. More than likely it would be Hank Williams Jr. Well now if one were to ask Hank Williams where his learning came from, tha name Rufus Payne would emerge. He taught Hank Williams to pluck the chords and Williams has always credited him as a mjor influencer. Then look at Elvis Presely and see his song writer of hits was Otis Blackwell. The Rolling Stones name comes from Howlin Wolf's Song 'Rolling Stone'. Pink FLoyd name derives from Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Blacks have shaped and molded many areas of the music industry. Let's not forget a numbe of Led Zeppelin's hits were credited from Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker. But the DJ's would not play their music until the white counterparts played the songs on the radio,

  2. Niesha Coop says:

    What a bunch of fools? Them fools even try to claim Hip Hop, Blues, Chicago House Music, Techno, Twerk, Bounce, Jazz, Smooth Jazz; Rock N Roll etc… Which all hail from West Africa by Africans. The only thing Whites need to claim is all the wars that have been going since they step foot on this Earth. Mother natural hasn't been right since!

  3. There is not a single part of American music culture that was not heavily influenced by black people. They just did a good job of erasing our contributions.

  4. The roots are deep: A.P. Carter, founder of the Carter Family, got much of his music from guitar player Lesley "Esley" Riddle, who never got his proper reward. Similarly, the "swing" that revolutionized country music came from jazz musicians.Country music has very little that is original – or European – in it.

  5. Thank you Sir for being a music historian and having an understanding of where this genre of music derived from. You are so accurate in your comment.

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