The incident has reignited discussions about diversity and representation within the country music scene, prompting a response from Taylor Crumpton, a respected pop culture, music and politics writer. In an op-ed for Time, Crumpton challenges the prevailing narrative that country music is an exclusively white domain.

“The greatest lie country music ever told was convincing the world that it is white,” writes Crumpton, adding that this perception dates to the early 20th century, when Black musicians, who played a pivotal role in shaping country music, were classified under the label of “race music.”


For instance, JME noted that the banjo, a signature instrument of country music, “was brought to America from West Africa by the transatlantic slave trade.” JME continues: “Many early country songs adapted from the melodies of hymns performed by Black ministers in the South, while the songs’ creators rarely received credit. Looking back on early hits of the genre, Louis Armstrong performed on Jimmie Rodgers’ landmark ‘Blue Yodel No. 9” recording in 1930, though his playing went uncredited.”

Additionally, Lesley Riddle, a Tennessee guitarist who often accompanied A.P. Carter of the Carter family while they traveled in search of new material. According to JME, Riddle memorized the melodies, while Carter would transcribe the lyrics. Mother Maybelle Carter’s signature guitar playing technique, known as the “Carter scratch,” was influenced by Riddle’s percussive style of playing. “Around the same time, Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne mentored a young Hank Williams, teaching him guitar and exposing him to genres he would later incorporate into his sound.” 

Both JME and Time emphasized the role of Black artists in shaping the melodies of early country hits. Harmonica player DeFord Bailey’s historic performance as the first artist ever to be introduced on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville is noted as a milestone in breaking racial barriers within the genre.

Ray Charles’ groundbreaking 1962 album, “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,” for example, is highlighted as a pivotal moment that broadened the audience for country music, transcending racial boundaries. Additionally, artists like Bobby Womack and Candi Staton, who successfully fused country and soul genres, challenge the notion of an exclusively white country music scene.

“Country music has never been exclusively white,” Crumpton asserted. “Country music is Black. Country music is Mexican. Country music is Indigenous.” Finally, Crumpton argued that Beyoncé, a Houston native, embodies this diversity in her music, showcasing a cultural exchange between Black, Tejano, and Indigenous communities in her hometown.

“The truth is that country music has never been white,” Crumpton asserted, concluding that Beyoncé does not need validation from the traditional country music establishment to classify her work. Observers noted that the rejection by KYKC radio adds a layer to the ongoing debate about the inclusivity and identity of country music in the modern era, sparking a broader conversation within the industry and among fans.

“One of the biggest lies this nation has ever told is that Black people are not country,” Crumpton wrote. “That they do not live in ‘small towns,’ despite what Jason Aldean says. Black people have always lived in the country. It is where we prayed. It is where we sang. It is where we worshiped.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored… More by Stacy M. Brown