How Beyoncé Fits Into the Storied Legacy of Black Country

BIPOC
By
Alice Randall
March 28, 2024
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On March 16, 1983, the Country Music Association (CMA) celebrated its 25th anniversary, and I was invited. Buddy Killen, the song publisher who pitched “Heartbreak Hotel” to Elvis Presley, thought “the Black girl from Harvard” might just be the second coming of that hit’s songwriter, Mae Boren Axton. He put me on the guest list and paid for the tickets. That evening back in 1983 was constructed to be country’s coming-out party as a musical genre worthy of exceptional respect because it was a reflection and celebration of America at its best. And that best was being defined as a family having only white founders—and not a single Black woman in sight. It was a fallacy that could only last so long.

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