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Out country music personality Cody Alan on Beyoncé busting the genre’s barriers for other Black women

Beyonce concert performance rhinestone cowgirl
Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood; Live Nation

Beyoncé has already made history in the music industry, now she's the first Black woman to top Billboard’s country chart.

Before she became arguably country music’s current “it” girl, many used to say, “Is there anything Beyoncé can’t do?” She tried her hand – or lent her voice – to country music back in 2016 with the “Daddy’s Lessons” from her smash album Lemonade. It didn’t set the world entirely on fire, which was atypical for a Beyoncé song.

She performed with the Dixie Chicks at the Country Music Awards in 2016 to mixed reviews by country music fans. Many country fans weren’t ready to accept her – mainly, it seemed, because of her race, support of Black Lives Matter, and her activism. So, Beyoncé’s foray into a genre seemed to come and go.

Until now, as Beyoncé comes roaring back with her country Billboard #1 song “Texas Hold’em” becoming the first Black woman to top the country charts. Not only has she made a decisively successful showing with her song, but she is also spurring a cultural fashion shift to all things, cowgirl for young girls. And, celebrities, trying to keep up with Beyoncé, are wearing cowboy hats in her honor.

Beyoncé is also putting a new and megawatt face on diversity in country music as a Black woman. And as a gay man, Cody Alan, a veteran country radio and television personality — he’s been called the Ryan Seacrest of country music — made country headlines when he came out in 2017. Currently, he is a host of SiriusXM country morning show The Highway. In 2021, he wrote about his journey in his memoir, Here’s the Thing. Alan has been in and around country music since he was 15 years old, and since then he has won countless awards as a country television and radio show host.

There have been many performers who have crossed over to country music, Kenny Rogers, Little Nas X, Post Malone, and Justin Bieber. Lana Del Rey even has a country album on the way. Based on his years of experience, had Alan seen anyone make the impact that Beyoncé has had thus far?

“I don't think so. I mean, she has clearly reached the top of Billboard Hot Country Songs as the first Black woman, and I don't think we've seen this kind of success from anyone crossing from pop to country. And I’ve seen all the social viral dances and reels on TikTok and so on, and it’s quite a cultural phenomenon, isn't it?”

As her star ascends in country, is Beyoncé also a representation of the genre becoming more inclusive? If anyone would know, it would be Alan, who put his career on the line by coming out.

“I felt that it has for a while. When I came out, I didn't know how that was going to be received and was a little nervous about it. And then I saw this sort of outpouring of support and love and very few haters,” he said.

Alan said that at least for him it was nerve-racking to take the leap, but seeing the wave of support was worth it. He sees that same support occurring for Beyoncé. “So many people, I think, in this industry are different. And so I think there is a wonderful inclusion and acceptance going on that may defy the perceptions of some people.”

In addition to helping make country music more inclusive, Beyoncé is also pushing the genre more mainstream; however, this tag seems to always get put on the latest pop person to make the transition. Is Beyoncé different from her predecessors?

“I hear the song and I get the cultural phenomenon of all of it, and it is very exciting because we have here an international global superstar, who's saying to country music, ‘Hey, I like what you're doing so much. I want to do it too.’ And I think there is sort of a mainstreaming that takes place when a superstar like Beyoncé crosses over.”

Yet, for Alan, he doesn’t think of country music not being mainstream, and points to the fact that one of the top country stations in the U.S. is in Seattle, Wash. “Country has a way of really reaching people wherever they are in rural communities, but also in big cities, I love that Beyoncé is tapping into her Texas roots, big city roots. She’s from Houston, and that's really cool for all of us who work in country that she is embracing those sounds.”

With her success, is Beyoncé beginning a renaissance of country music?

“We're overdue for a Black woman to play country music again in a broader and bigger way. We certainly have had some great and amazing singer-songwriters who were Black women like Mickey Guyton and Britteny Spencer, who are just really incredible voices.”

Alan said it's almost as if the industry has been waiting for a powerhouse to come along and break that glass ceiling once and for all. “I'd like to think she’s helping to open the door and open the way for some other amazing voices to come through, and start a bigger movement that we've really been waiting on,” he said.

With del Rey, Malone, and Nas X hitting the country notes, and Beyoncé’s unquestionable success now, who did Alan want to see crossover next?

“That’s a great question! Like John Mayer?" he said, referring to Mayer's guitar skills and songwriting. "I'd love for him to come out with a song with the banjo. And, I was also thinking about John Legend.”

He advised: “Maybe you can do me a favor and help me let them know that they’re welcome anytime.”

But first, we have to cede the stage to Beyoncé for a while as she takes the country spotlight.

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John Casey

John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.
John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.