June Carter Cash’s Daughter Defends Beyoncé’s Country Claim: ‘She’s One of Us Carter Women’

Beyoncé‘s new album Cowboy Carter has stirred up some discourse over whether she should be considered “country.” But as far as Carlene Carter is concerned, there’s no question that Bey is in league with her mom: late country icon June Carter Cash.

In a recent statement, Carlene condemned the “negativity” she’s seen in the days since Cowboy Carter arrived on Friday, bringing with it 27 new experimental, country-inspired tracks. “As a Carter Girl myself and coming from a long line of Carter Girls, I’m moved to ask why anyone would treat a Carter this way?” she questioned.


“She is an incredibly talented and creative woman who obviously wanted to do this because she likes country music,” continued the 68-year-old singer-songwriter. “In my book, she’s one of us Carter women and we have always pushed the boundaries by trying whatever music we felt in our hearts and taking spirit-driven risks.”

Carlene is the daughter of June and Carl Smith, who divorced in 1956. The “Jackson” singer went on to marry Edwin “Rip” Nix in 1957 before splitting in 1966, after which she famously wed Johnny Cash in 1968.

Throughout her career as a country musician, June notched nine hits on the Hot Country Songs chart — a ranking Bey would become the first Black female soloist to top decades later with “Texas Hold ‘Em.” The single, along with “16 Carriages,” preceded Cowboy Carter, which features guest appearances from Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson.

“I admire and love her and all she does,” added Carlene, directly addressing the “naysayers.” “I am delighted to know that Carter spunk is in her just like it’s been through nearly 100 years of us Carters choosing to follow ours hearts, hearts that are filled with love not just for country music but for all kinds of music. Here’s a warm welcome to the Carter Girl Club!”


Carlene isn’t the first country star to defend Bey’s right to explore country music. Linda Martell, who is featured on Cowboy Carter, wrote on Instagram that she’s “proud” of the 32-time Grammy winner for “exploring her country music roots,” while Rihannon Giddens said in a recent interview: “People can do what they wanna do. They wanna make a country record? Make a country record. Nobody’s askin’ Lana Del Rey, ‘What right do you have to make a country record?’”

Plus, Queen Bey’s mom, Tina Knowles, reminded critics prior to the album’s release that her daughter grew up in the heart of “cowboy culture” in Houston. “There is a huge Black cowboy culture,” she said at the time. “Why do you think that my kids have integrated it into their fashion and art since the beginning? … We went to rodeos every year and my whole family dressed in western fashion… It definitely was a part of our culture growing up.”

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