This week, Beyonce performed with the Dixie Chicks at the Country Music Awards, singing “Daddy Lessons,” a single off her album, Lemonade. There has been a great deal of conversation and controversy surrounding her appearance at the CMAs because of her pop-genre and, most notably, as a black woman. Lemonade has been acclaimed as a masterpiece of black-pride, specifically the single Formation. These political statements have been claimed as in conflict with the very white space that are CMAs. Though news media has questioned whether the very limited announcements about her performance and CMAs official Twitter account never mentioning her are due to a controversial racial climate or Beyonce’s intense media privacy.
Beyond this, I think it is most notable that her presence as a black woman at the CMAs is important because of the appropriation of country music’s black icons. A Vox article states,
And yet country music’s “little white myth” persists today because of the erasure of the genre’s black roots and the contributions black artists have made to it over the years. One of the first black icons of country music was DeFord Bailey, an outstanding harmonica player whose hillbilly records in the 1920s drew from the black folk music tradition he grew up with.
In 1962, Ray Charles, one of the fathers of soul music, released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, the first country record to sell 1 million copies, ushering in the possibility of the sort of pop and country music crossover for which white artists like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift are now celebrated.
Like any stage Beyonce claims, those accompanying her, from background singers to musicians, are usually women, and even more notably, black women, a rarity in the music industry.