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Beyoncé Honors Black Country icon Linda Martell on ‘cowboy carter’

todayMarch 28, 2024 5

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Beyoncé’s highly anticipated album “Cowboy Carter” is set to feature a tribute to Linda Martell, the first Black woman to achieve commercial success in country music, with a track titled “The Linda Martell Show.” This homage comes when a new documentary, “Bad Case of The Country Blues: The Linda Martell Story,” brings renewed attention to Martell’s groundbreaking career and the challenges she faced as a Black artist in a predominantly white industry.

Linda Martell, now 82, made history in 1969 when she became the first solo Black woman to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Her 1970 album “Color Me Country” was the first major country release by a Black woman, with her cover of “Color Him Father” reaching #22 on the Billboard country charts. Despite these achievements, Martell encountered significant racism and resistance within the country music industry, leading to her eventual retirement from the Nashville scene.

Directed by Marquia Thompson, Martell’s granddaughter, “Bad Case of The Country Blues” features interviews with Martell herself, as well as Grammy-nominated artist Rissi Palmer, author and songwriter Alice Randall, journalist Andrea Williams, and various scholars, family members, and friends. The documentary aims to give Martell control over her own narrative and shed light on her crucial role in country music history, which has often been overlooked in comparison to her male counterpart Charley Pride and countless white female artists.

Beyoncé’s own experiences with backlash from the country music establishment, particularly after her performance of “Daddy Lessons” with The Chicks at the 2016 CMA Awards, motivated her to delve deeper into the genre’s history for “Cowboy Carter.” The album challenges Beyoncé to bend and blend musical styles while celebrating country music’s diverse heritage and the underappreciated Black pioneers who paved the way.

The “Cowboy Carter” tracklist poster also pays homage to other country icons, such as Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, with Beyoncé taking on a “Rodeo Queen” persona in the album’s Western-inspired visuals. Through this ambitious project, Beyoncé seeks to celebrate the Black roots of country music while infusing the genre with her own unique perspective and sound.

As “Bad Case of The Country Blues: The Linda Martell Story” brings Martell’s life and legacy to the forefront, Beyoncé’s tribute on “Cowboy Carter” serves as a powerful and timely acknowledgment of the artist’s impact. By amplifying Martell’s story and the broader history of Black artists in country music, Beyoncé continues to demonstrate her commitment to musical innovation and the reclamation of Black cultural contributions across genres. The documentary and Beyoncé’s album promise to spark crucial conversations about racial equity in the music industry and inspire a new generation of artists to challenge the status quo.


Written by: Tarik Moody

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