Decolonising Country Music: What is Country and Why is it Making a Comeback? 
Beyonce sits upon a horse in a cowboy hat waving the American flag

5678 Journalist Mia Rose explores why the Southern American genre is soaring in popularity. 

After Beyoncé’s album release in March 2024, searches for Country music on Google reached an average popularity score of 100, compared to the score of 77 the previous month. 

Its growing popularity is impossible to deny. So, what is country music, and why is it making a comeback?

Country Music emerged from South West America in the early 20th century, influenced by American folk, African-American and Appalachian music; the genre focused on singing the stories of the working-class.

Country, with its sounds of strings and acoustic melodies that host comfort to many, is the second most popular genre in the USA according to Statista.

Popular female names in the industry include Taylor Swift, whose career began in Country music, Shania Twain, the Queen of Country pop,  American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, and the iconic ‘9 to 5’ singer Dolly Parton.

However, honourable mentions you may not have heard of include Tennessee singer Valerie June who boasts two Country albums in the Billboard 200, Tracy Chapman, the first black songwriter to win song of the year at the Country Music Awards. Disappointingly, this award was allocated just last year, almost 35 years after its release. 

Pop icon Beyoncé broke into the Country scene this year with her album ‘COWBOY CARTER’ which ignited discussions on black musicians’ history and involvement within Country music.

The artist wrote in a post on her Instagram account: “It was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed… and it was very clear that I wasn’t,” 

She continued: “But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive.”

Since Beyonce’s album release, audiences have discovered a whole world of black women in Country music to enjoy. Social Media Platforms such as TikTok have played a vital role in the discovery of Country music for Gen Z music consumers. 

And, the modernisation of Country has led to its growth in popularity, as Country artists move to collaborate and experiment with contemporary genres such as Rap and Pop. The Grammy Award winning track, ‘Old Town Road’ was a collaboration between Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and rapper Lil Nas X, which experimented with the limits of genre and sound. 

Country’s comeback can only be down to opening up the genre to a diverse range of audiences, removing the whitewash and appreciating its rich and multicultural history.

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Written by: Mia Rose
Mia Rose is a Final Year Journalism student at the University of Sheffield. She has experience in feature writing and broadcasting. Mia forms a part of the Website Team at 5678 Magazine.