5 Black Country Singers Who Have Made History, Including Beyoncé

beyonce holding a standing microphone with her right hand and performing at a concert wearing a black and white striped dress
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Beyoncé dealt herself a winning hand with her smash 2024 country single “Texas Hold ‘Em.” The song debuted at No. 1 on the latest Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, marking an impressive introduction to the genre for the most awarded artist in Grammy history.

The 42-year-old pop and R&B superstar surprised fans during the Super Bowl on February 11 by announcing in a commercial for Verizon she would release new music. Queen Bey has since teased her upcoming album, due on March 29 and only identified as Act II, with the country-infused singles “16 Carriages” and “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

With the latter, Beyoncé has already made country music history, but she’s hardly the first Black country singer to make a valuable contribution to the genre. Here are five Black country singers you should know.

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DeFord Bailey

The feat: First Grand Ole Opry performer

Although the Grand Ole Opry aired for the first time as the WSM Barn Dance two years prior, the radio show was truly born on December 10, 1927, when announcer George D. Hay first referred to the program by its now iconic title. The first performer to take the stage that night was one of country’s earliest stars: DeFord Bailey.

Born in December 1899, Bailey overcame a bout with polio at age 3 to become a talented musician. Hay dubbed him the “Harmonica Wizard” for his skill with the instrument. He also played guitar and did yo-yo tricks, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. However, DeFord quit music in 1941 following a disagreement over song licensing. He died at age 82 in July 1982.

deford bailey smiling and holding a megaphone in a photograph
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Charley Pride

The feat: First Black Country Music Hall of Fame inductee

Charley Pride, widely considered the genre’s first Black superstar, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. He was the first Black country singer to receive the honor and is still one of only three along with DeFord Bailey and Ray Charles.

Born in March 1934, Pride idolized Jackie Robinson and attempted a professional baseball career in the Negro American League before transitioning to music. It was the right call—he was named the CMA Entertainer of the year in 1971 and went on to have 29 No. 1 country hits before his 2020 death at age 86.

charley pride sitting in front of a portrait of hank williams and smiling for a photograph
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Darius Rucker

The feat: First Black solo artist with a diamond-certified country song

The longtime frontman of Hootie & the Blowfish, Darius Rucker embarked on a country solo career in the late 2000s. The 57-year-old has achieved massive success since, particularly with “Wagon Wheel” from 2013.

Rucker’s version of the song, originally released in 2004 by Old Crow Medicine Show, became Diamond-certified in October 2022 after selling and streaming 10 million units. “Wagon Wheel” was only the fourth country song ever to achieve that status, according to Music Row magazine. The others are “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line, “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton, and the remixed version of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

darius rucker wearing a black striped suit and tie and posing for photos at the cma awards
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Tracy Chapman

The feat: First Black songwriter to win CMA Song of the Year

Tracy Chapman’s career-defining song “Fast Car” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988 and earned the singer a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. But thanks to Luke Combs’ omnipresent 2023 cover, the 59-year-old and her song made history again more than 30 years later.

Combs’ version of the track was named Song of the Year at the CMA Awards in November 2023, making Chapman the first Black songwriter to win in the category. The two performed a surprise duet of “Fast Car” at the 2024 Grammys, where Combs was nominated for Best Country Solo Performance.

tracy chapman playing guitar and singing in front of yeloow stage lights at the grammy awards
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The feat: First Black woman with a No. 1 country song

Beyoncé showed she is a true Renaissance artist with her 2024 release “Texas Hold ‘Em.” It reached No. 1 on the latest Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, making the Texas native the first Black woman artist to achieve the feat.

She is also one of five musicians ever to have chart-toppers on the Hot Country Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs lists. Beyoncé joins Justin Bieber, Morgan Wallen, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Ray Charles.

beyonce wearing a white cowboy hat and black and white country attire while attending the grammy awards
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