Beyoncé first black woman to top Billboard Country chart

Beyoncé’s new hit Texas Hold ‘Em is the first song by a black woman to debut at top spot on the Billboard country chart.

The pivot from R&B and pop may have come as a surprise to some but her dad thinks it’s always been in her blood.

Dr Matthew Knowles tells BBC Asian Network that as a child Beyoncé would spend time with his parents in Alabama who loved country music.

“When Beyoncé was a little baby, and I’m talking two-three years old, she would go down and spend the summer with my parents,” Dr Knowles says.

“And her grandfather – my father – loved country music, and he used to sing to her. At an early age, she heard this music.

“And when you’re two, three years old, subconsciously music stays in your head,” he says.

Dr Knowles, who until 2011 managed his daughter, says he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Beyoncé’s childhood memories played a role in her new direction.

The record executive has also previously managed Beyoncé’s sister Solange and her group Destiny’s Child.

He says Beyoncé now has the chance to bring a “totally new audience” to the country genre.

Beyoncé announced her new album, the second part to her Renaissance project, during the Super Bowl last week with two tracks released immediately.

The second track, 16 Carriages, entered the Billboard country charts at number nine and it’s anticipated that the full album – due to be released next month – will be country too.

While a full country album will be a first for the Texas-born singer, Dr Knowles points out it’s not her first time at the rodeo.

“On a previous album [Lemonade, 2016], there’s a country song Daddy Lessons,” he says.

While the song was put forward for the country category at the Grammys, it was rejected by the Recording Academy.

Music critics say the genre has an issue with representation, particularly for black and female artists, and a US country station last week had to reverse a decision not to play Texas Hold ‘Em.

But Dr Knowles believes Beyoncé’s new direction could change this and introduce a whole new fan base to country music.

“The country music industry should really look at that as a plus not a minus, that she’s bringing a completely new audience.”

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