This is not an album review. This is a love letter to you, Dear Writer.

Beyoncé’s act ii: Cowboy Carter may soon become the soundtrack of your life if you’re a multi-passionate writer. This genre-defying album is like a musical permission slip to pursue any creative passion you want despite what naysayers declare you can and cannot do or can and cannot be.

The first two singles released, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages,” let Beyonce fans know that just as Renaissance paid homage to house music (and the Black artists who shaped it), act ii would do the same for country.  

With “Texas Hold ‘Em,” Beyoncé made history – again – and became the first Black woman with the number one single on the Hot Country Songs chart. (Last year, she won her 32nd Grammy, more than any artist ever.)

Ten days before the release date, Beyoncé shared on Instagram that she’s been working on this album for over five years.

“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 wrote.

Back in 2016, Beyoncé performed her song “Daddy Lessons” with the Chicks at the Country Music Association Awards and though the performance brought many in the crowd to their feet, some territorial trolls were appalled and took to Twitter – of course – to let the world know.

“But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music.”

She goes on to say, “act ii is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work.”

Finally, she boldly declares, “This ain’t a Country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé’ album.”

She put us on notice that she can and will take country and any other genre of music and make it her own. But the beauty of Beyoncé is that while doing so she also gives honor to the artists who came before her and opens doors for artists seeking to follow in her footsteps.

And you, Dear Writer, can do the same with your work. You can be the Cowboy Carter of writing.

Too Country, Not Country Enough

Cowboy Carter opens with the track “American Requiem” which sounds like a blend of nearly every type of American music – country, rock, blues, gospel, and more. It feels like a prelude to a music history lesson because it is.

When you’re writing, don’t be afraid to draw upon all the things that make you who you are.

But this is a requiem, a farewell. This is a “funeral for “fair-weather friends” and for any ideas that no longer serve you. This is a funeral for the idea that you are too much or not enough.

Beyoncé shares that one moment she’s being told she’s too country and the next she’s told she’s not country enough. I think many of us Black Southern women can relate to this far too well.

I’m too country because my words are coated in a Southern accent that sticks to every syllable like molasses.  Yet, my dark brown face is not what you picture when you think of a Southern belle, let alone a Southern writer.

But never mind all that. I will “plant my bare feet on solid ground” and I shall not be moved.

Related Reading: Why I’m Obsessed with Beyonce

Cowboy Carter Is Looking Back and Paying It Forward

With this album, Beyoncé is looking back and paying it forward.

Cowboy Carter features several up-and-coming Black country music artists including Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy (whom I’ve interviewed back in 2020), and Reyna Roberts – who join Beyoncé for her heavenly cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

Willie Jones and Shaboozey are featured on the album too.

Miley Cyrus, joins Queen Bey for the track “II Most Wanted.”

Cowboy Carter also salutes Linda Martell, who in 1969 became the first Black woman to perform at the legendary country music venue, the Grand Ole Opry.

The album features snippets of Chuck Berry, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and blues singer Son House.

Beyoncé not only gives us some music history, but she offers us some of her history too with the autobiographical “16 Carriages.” Using metaphor like a poet, she takes us through her journey to stardom, the death of her innocence and childhood, and the reality that despite her fame she’s “overworked and overwhelmed” too.

Dear Writer, don’t be afraid to tell your story and to share your truth.

Beyoncé’s rendition of “Jolene,” which most of us predicted long before the track list was released, is top tier and was even introduced by Dolly Parton herself! Beyoncé truly made the song her own.

Another country legend you’ll hear from is the one and only Willie Nelson, who declares: “Sometimes you don’t know what you like until someone you trust turns you on to some real good shit.”

Maybe Willie Nelson will turn die-hard country fans into Beyhive members. Maybe Beyoncé will make the Beyhive fall in love with country.

Dear Writer, how can you pay tribute to the women writers who came before you and lift as you climb? How can you introduce your readers to new ideas?

Stay Rooted in Story

Whether you’re a fan of the genre or not, country music’s strongest attribute is its storytelling. Likewise, no matter what genre you decide to dabble in, Dear Writer, make sure you continue to prioritize good storytelling. Nonfiction and poetry need to tell a good story just as fiction does.

The Cowboy Carter tracks that boast the best storytelling also happen to be the ones that best showcase Beyoncé’s undeniable vocal prowess. Beyoncé fans who count albums like B’Day and 4 as their favorites undoubtedly will love songs like “Bodyguard.”

The storytelling in “Daughter” is giving Lemonade vibes while Beyoncé displays her range with a snippet of “Caro Mio Ben.”

Dear Writer, don’t be afraid to show off! You’re a talented writer. Flex and flaunt those skills.

I ain’t no regular sanger!

This is a Beyoncé album. And a Beyoncé album can be whatever she wants it to be.

The track titled “Spaghettii” begins with Linda Martell stating that sometimes genres can make us feel boxed in. Then Beyoncé comes through kicking down the box with a gritty verse that reminds us she “ain’t no regular sanger!”

Rap on a country album? Why not?!

Renaissance fans will be ready to break out their metallic again once “Riiverdance” starts but that’s not the only track that will make you move. “Ya Ya” – which draws from Nancy Sinatra and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” – is sure to keep me dancing all spring.

Beyoncé shows off her sexy side with tracks like “Levii’s Jeans” (featuring Post Malone) and “Desert Eagle.”

(The extra I’s in the song titles of the 27-track project highlight that Cowboy Carter is “Act II” of what Beyoncé has said will be a three-album cycle, which began with Renaissance in 2022.)

And in the track “Sweet Honey Buckiin” Bey shows she can blend multiple genres in a single song.

So, as you listen to Cowboy Carter this spring may you find the courage to bury old ideas about what you can and cannot do as a writer and who you can or cannot be as a woman.

Say a prayer for what has been and then move forward to what can be. Amen.

If you’re looking for a community of multi-passionate writers, come join the See Jane Write Collective.