Beyonce-Image courtesy of Nashville Tennessean

Story by Caché McClayMarcus K. Dowling/Nashville Tennessean

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter included four emerging Black female country artists on her new cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” further feeding an avalanche of conversation around Black women in this landscape.

Three of those Music City-based artists, Tanner Adell, Tiera Kennedy and Reyna Roberts, spoke with USA TODAY about Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter” album and its impact on their burgeoning careers.

The fourth, Brittney Spencer, was busy Friday working on a forthcoming performance at the CMT Music Awards next month, but she shared her feelings on social media.

Spencer said it was an honor to be a part of this historic moment, adding that she’s been hoping for an album like “Cowboy Carter” since Beyoncé released her country track “Daddy Lessons” in 2016.

Tanner Adell, Tiera Kennedy and Reyna Roberts sing on Beyoncé's new song "Blackbiird," a cover of the Beatles track "Blackbird."

“I’m in awe of Beyoncé. Her genius, creative mind, and thoughtful, generous approach represent so much more than we can probably even fathom and put into words right now,” she wrote. “(It) validates the feelings, stories, and experiences often left in the shadows and outskirts of the mainstream country world and the music world at large.”

‘All of us will rise’

In the last five years, Adell, Kennedy, Roberts and Spencer have been CMT Next Women of Country Class members, performed the national anthem at sporting venues, graced award stages, been magazine cover models and released nearly a dozen albums or mixtapes between them that received critical and viral acclaim.

When reflecting on her shared admiration for Beyoncé, Roberts says she had long admired her artistry, voice, and the uniquely creative manner in which she blends genres.

Listening to a multitude of genres of music since childhood led Roberts to synergize her sound, as many developing Nashville artists – Black females and otherwise – are often into “fun, (self-defined) music.”

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Adell’s appearance on “Blackbiird” fulfills her lifelong dream of working with Beyoncé within an unexpected whirlwind of just a few months.

Her performance was a “special moment” she said she “kept as close to her person as possible” to avoid “destroying the good energy” of the moment.

Kennedy adds that Beyoncé created a shared moment for herself and the other artists on “Blackbiird,” while at the same time sending a message about the importance of sharing transformational moments.

Roberts summarized everyone’s feelings: “All of us will rise because there’s space for everyone.”

The history of ‘Blackbird’

Blackbird” was written by Paul McCartney, and it’s fitting a quintet of country music-inspired Black women are covering it.

In 1968, McCartney said he wrote the song while visiting Scotland and hearing about nine African-American students who were harassed and threatened by white students while enrolling in and desegregating Little Rock, Arkansas’ Central High School in 1957. Contemplating America’s Civil Rights Movement at a violent peak, he wrote a song dedicated to people affected by discrimination.

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In previous interviews, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer has also stated that the idea of “you were only waiting for this moment to arise” being symbolized by a blackbird was not about a blackbird whose wings are broken but rather symbolized Black women’s plight during the Civil Rights Movement.

“I didn’t know the history of that song when we recorded it, and so it made it even more special, learning that afterwards,” Kennedy says.

Roberts believes that Nashville’s Black, female and country-led musical community is already unified by “care, growth and love.” Its next steps, featuring Beyoncé’s influence, have the potential of unprecedented power.

Kennedy agrees.

“She’s put us all on a platform we can only dream of. There are young girls who will grow up without doubts if they can (achieve Beyoncé-level) success,” she says. “I’m really excited to see the impact it’ll have on younger generations because I don’t just want it to stop here. I want it to continue.”

#BlackbirdCover #BlackFemaleCountryArtists #Beyoncé

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