Beyonce Makes History : While Honoring Many Black Country Music Artists

Reuters/Mike Blake

Beyonce May Be The First Black Woman To Hit Number One, But The Black Community Has Contributed Greatly To Country Music

Beyonce has become the first black woman to land at Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart with her 2024 release, 'Texas Hold 'Em'.  While this may surprise several Country Music fans, she is not the first Black artist to have success in the genre. We've created a small list of Black artists who've made a significant contribution to Country Music through the years.  We may have missed some, but we hope to begin the discussion of appreciation for these artists, and how Beyonce's recent chart-topper is a nod to their efforts.

Charley Pride leads the list of Black performers in Country Music, a member of both the Grand Ole Opry and The Country Music Hall of Fame, he landed dozens of Number One records at a time when racial tensions ran high in the late 60s and 70s. Pride is acknowledged as Country Music's first black SUPERSTAR, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

DeFord Bailey, while he didn't have radio success, he is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame for his significant role as one of the Grand Ole Opry's first stars. Bailey is billed as Country Music's first African American Star, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Ray Charles landed in Country Music with his ground breaking album 'Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music', and returned in 1983 with an album of Country duets, featuring 'Seven Spanish Angels' with Willie Nelson. Ray Charles would remain a great friend of the genre til his passing, earning induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Lionel Riche joined forces with Kenny Rogers to write his classic 'Lady', while producing some of his other music. In addition, Lionel Richie joined Alabama for the Top 10 Hit 'Deep River Woman' in 1985. Later on, Lionel Richie would record a Country duets album titled, 'Tuskegeee'.

Darius Rucker made the successful transition from Rock to Country with his Number One Hit, 'Don't Think I Don't Think About It', in 2008, after major success with the band Hootie and The Blowfish.

Linda Martell was the first African American woman to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, with the release of her album 'Color Me Country.' In 2021, CMT gave her some overdue credit with the 'Equal Play' Award. In addition, Dolly Parton honored Linda Martell in a Lifetime Television Movie titled 'A Country Christmas Story.'

Kane Brown! Current Country Music Hitmaker.

Over the last few years, black artists like Chapel Heart, War and Treaty, Mickey Guyton, Jimmie Allen, Breland, Allison Russell, Amythyst Kia, Brittney Spencer, Shy Carter, Blanco Brown, Cowboy Troy, Willie Jones, Yola, Rhiannon Giddens, Coffee Anderson, Leslie Riddle, Tony Jackson, Tae Lewis and others are now leading the way for more great talent, songs and creativity in Country Music!

In addition to Linda Martell, we'd like to give honorable mentions to a few black musicians, from the 60s-90s, that never got the recognition they deserved, during their time in Country Music: Big Al Downing, Cleve Francis, Petrella Ann Bonner and OB McClinton!  We hope the success of Beyonce's new Country Record, and all the great new artists we've listed above, will honor the efforts of these brave and talented music makers, that were not as recognized during their time in Nashville.

We also acknowledge a few other black artists that had cameos in Country Music:

Bebe Rexha joined Florida Georgia Line for 'Meant To Be' (2017)

Reverend Ike joined Hank Williams, Jr. on the Number One Hit, 'Mind Your Own Business' (1986)

Anita Pointer joined Earl Thomas Conley for the Number One Hit, 'Too Many Times' (1986)

The Pointer Sisters 'Fairytale' earns a Grammy for Best Country Group Performance of the Year (1974)

Tracy Chapman wins a CMA for writing 'Fast Car', re-recorded by Luke Combs (2023)









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