Advertisement

Beyoncé is opening the door for these Black country artists

Beyoncé has some people excited about country music.

In a genre that has long been at the center of debate for its lack of diversity, the superstar’s “Act II: Cowboy Carter” album is not just stirring conversation, but also piquing interest about Black country artists.

While Beyoncé has asserted that her latest effort “ain’t a Country album,” the genre’s influence can’t be denied – from the singer’s recent cowgirl fashion aesthetic, to the Bey-ified cover of Dolly Parton’s classic “Jolene,” to the inclusion of Black country artists like Tanner Adell, Willie Jones, Tiera Kennedy, Linda Martell, Reyna Roberts, Brittney Spencer and alt-country artist Shaboozey.

But they aren’t the only ones whose careers could benefit from Queen Bey’s entrance into country music. They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and here are just a few of the artists who could potentially ride the wave of attention now being paid to Black performers seeking to make their mark in country music.

The BoykinZ

The BoykinZ perform onstage during the Atlanta chapter member and nominee celebration on January 25, 2024 in Atlanta. - Derek White/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
The BoykinZ perform onstage during the Atlanta chapter member and nominee celebration on January 25, 2024 in Atlanta. - Derek White/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

This quartet of singing sisters from the suburbs outside of Atlanta can already count Kelly Clarkson and Shania Twain as fans.

After going viral on TikTok for their tight harmonies and energetic dance moves, the young women were treated to a surprise meeting with Twain during an appearance on Clarkson’s daytime talk show last year. Twain took the opportunity to invite them to join her on stage at the CMT Awards.

“I invited them to do a little acappella piece with me tonight, just as part of my exchange of supporting upcoming young female artists, people that might, in this day and age, be excluded,” Twain told People at the time.

These days, the group couldn’t be more excited about Beyoncé’s new album and the buzz it’s created.

“I think it’s such a beautiful thing, honestly,” Kylan Boykin, 22, told CNN. “We listened to the album, and we’re just stunned by what she did. Her creativity is on a whole other level and we believe it’s opening doors for artists like ourselves to be just as creative and to do whatever we want in this genre.”

Her 19-year-old sister and fellow group member Nytere Boykin said she understands why Beyoncé made it clear that “Cowboy Carter” is not a traditional country album.

“I love what she did. Each and every song has a uniqueness to it, and it wasn’t true to one genre,” Nytere Boykin said.

The pair, along with their sisters Anale, 21, and Alona, 17, are working on their debut album and are feeling inspired.

“[Beyoncé] did what she wanted to do and it’s so inspiring,” Kylan Boykin added. “I think it speaks to everybody in many different ways that you can do whatever you want to do and not to hold back and limit yourself to what people think you should be doing, no matter your race, where you come from, your size or anything so that’s awesome.”

RVSHVD

RVSHVD performs during a Sticks and Swamp tour concert at the Exit/In in Nashville on April 21, 2023. - Andrew Nelles /The Tennessean/USA Today Network
RVSHVD performs during a Sticks and Swamp tour concert at the Exit/In in Nashville on April 21, 2023. - Andrew Nelles /The Tennessean/USA Today Network

RVSHVD (pronounced Ra-shad) is another Georgia native who is making his way in the country music industry.

His songs like “Hit Different,” “For The Streets” and “Small Town Talk” blend a hip-hop influence with his obvious love of country.

Last year, the artist born Clint Rashad Johnson told Billboard it all started for him when he heard Keith Urban’s 2009 hit “Sweet Thing.”

“I was like, ‘Okay, that ain’t bad.’ My dad would listen to all kinds of music — Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, gospel. He did all kinds of jobs, and had me out working with him, washing cars and hauling scraps,” he said. “He would listen to country while he worked. He tried to get me to listen to country, and I didn’t like it at first.”

After discovering artists like Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker and Florida Georgia Line, he was locked in and on his way.

RVSHVD is also making beautiful music with his wife, Angel Rewis-Johnson.

She’s credited as a writer on his playful and irreverent Christmas carol, “My Tree.”

Ashlie Amber

Ashlie Amber in "My Kind of Country," now streaming on Apple TV+. - Apple TV+
Ashlie Amber in "My Kind of Country," now streaming on Apple TV+. - Apple TV+

Ashlie Amber may not have won a TV competition meant to open doors for underrepresented country artists, but she’s definitely winning fans.

The singer was one of the contestants last year on the Apple TV+ reality music competition series “My Kind of Country” which was executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Kacey Musgraves.

Black country artists Jimmie Allen and Mickey Guyton, as well as country artist Orville Peck, served as scouts who set out to “hand-pick a roster of exceptional up-and-coming artists and invite them to the home of country music in Nashville, Tennessee, to showcase their unique sound.”

Micaela Kleinsmith was ultimately selected as the champion, but the show gave added visibility to Amber, who had worked in the industry for more than a decade and appeared on the 2012 Season of “American Idol.”

The singer-songwriter was asked recently by the Instagram account Black Country Music about Beyoncé’s possible effect on country music for people of color replied “It’s about damn time.”

“I think it’s important for people to know that there are incredibly talented Black women that have been in the trenches and that have been fighting to be seen in country music,” she said. “But it’s such a hard genre to crack.”

Country music, she added, is a “close-knit community” that tends to celebrate “a very specific type of artist.”

“It had to take somebody like Beyoncé because Beyoncé answers to nobody,” Amber said. “Beyoncé is the queen bee. She is a icon of icons. It had to take someone like Beyoncé to finally be like ‘You know what? Naw. This ain’t gonna work for me anymore.’”

The Kentucky Gentleman

Derek Campbell and Brandon Campbell of The Kentucky Gentlemen perform at City Winery Nashville on August 15, 2023 in Nashville. - Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Derek Campbell and Brandon Campbell of The Kentucky Gentlemen perform at City Winery Nashville on August 15, 2023 in Nashville. - Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Twins Derek Campbell and Brandon Campbell are fighting for inclusivity in country music in more ways than one.

The brothers, who are gay, told GLAAD last year: “It’s taken a while but we’ve found other creatives and fans that see our vision and do what they can to help fulfill that and make us feel safe and at home.”

In 2022, the Versailles, Kentucky-natives had their single “Whatever You’re Up For” dubbed “the most compelling commercial-country slow jam of the year” by Rolling Stone magazine.

The brothers are determined to break through in Nashville.

“Honestly, waking up and going at it being who we are every day is no different than waking up our whole lives being Black and gay in America, so it’s not anything that we aren’t used to,” Derek Campbell told WSMV4 last year. “So we just stay in the face of it every day, keep riding, keep getting through it.”

Chapel Hart

(From left) Trea Swindle, Danica Hart and Devynn Hart of Chapel Hart perform at the CMT Music Awards in Austin, Texas. - Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
(From left) Trea Swindle, Danica Hart and Devynn Hart of Chapel Hart perform at the CMT Music Awards in Austin, Texas. - Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Beyoncé has given us a cover of “Jolene,” but a few years ago, Chapel Hart dropped “You Can Have Him Jolene.”

The trio – made up of sisters Danica and Devynn Hart and cousin Trea Swindle – are independent artists who may be recognizable from their golden buzzer moment and fifth place finish on “America’s Got Talent” in 2022.

The original song they auditioned with on that show provides an “update” to Parton’s classic and won approval from the legend herself.

“What a fun new take on my song, @ChapelHartBand!” Parton wrote on X in 2022.

While women, who hail from Mississippi and Louisiana, are familiar with the challenges of being artists of color, they maintain that their goal is to make tunes they love.

“We’re just country artists, and it wasn’t until later people were saying you’re breaking barriers, and we didn’t realize that was a thing, because our focus is the music” Swindle recently told News Channel 5 Nashville.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com