The origins of Black Country Music; From Blues to Beyoncé and Texas Hold’em

Wayne Ince
ZORA
Published in
4 min readMar 2, 2024

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Photo credit: Author | image created with AI software

Closing out Black History Month and a series of articles to highlight this celebration of black excellence and contribution to the American Experiment – Democracy.

The tapestry of Black Country Music weaves together various influences ranging from the soulful melodies of blues to the contemporary beats of Beyoncé and even the unexpected inclusion of Texas Hold ‘em. This piece explores the seated roots of this musical genre, tracing its development and spotlighting its prominent figures.

Transitioning from landscapes to mainstream success, The Early Days

The foundation of Black Country Music was laid in the cotton fields of the Southern United States, where enslaved African Americans utilized songs as a means of communication and solace. These spirituals, work songs, and field hollers set the stage for what would evolve into blues music.

These blues artists garnered recognition as the recording industry emerged in the 20th century. Icons like Lead Belly and Robert Johnson rose to fame, resonating with audiences regardless of race. Their music conveyed tales of struggle and optimism in a manner that transcended divides.

Blues: The Soulful Core of Black Country Music

Blues music is often regarded as the essence at the core of Black Country Music due to its raw emotion and meaningful lyrics. Like a river, it flows through the heart of the genre, enriching it with depth and resonance.

In the 1920s, female artists like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were figures in the blues scene, offering a fresh perspective to the genre.

As time progressed into the 1940s and 50s, the blues transformed into rhythm and blues (R&B), with talents such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf elevating its essence. The impact of blues can be spotted in modern country musicians, including Charley Pride and Darius Rucker.

The Emergence of Black Country Music

Black Country Music blossomed during the 1960s and 70s as artists like Charley Pride and Ray Charles made their mark on the mainstream music scene. Charley Pride notably broke barriers by becoming the Black performer at the Grand Ole Opry in 1967, opening doors for future Black country musicians.

Meanwhile, Ray Charles infused elements into country music through his album “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,” blending R&B with country tunes in a groundbreaking manner that challenged genre boundaries.

Beyoncé: A Contemporary Icon

Beyoncé symbolizes that Black Country music is continuously pushing boundaries within the genre. Her track “Daddy Lessons” from the album “Lemonade” exemplifies her approach.

The song combines country, blues, and pop elements, showcasing the genre’s versatility. Many country radio stations are hesitant to play her song as part of their country music rotation, but the popularity of her song drive listeners to request song played. A preceived boycott of black country song only serves to highlight the deep racial division outside of politices that is still prevalent. But, you just can’t stop good music.

Beyoncés impact on Black Country Music cannot be denied, with over 100 million records sold globally. Her success highlights the enduring appeal of the genre and its ability to adapt and grow.

At first glance, there may not seem to be a link between Black Country Music and Texas Hold ‘em. However, both share roots in the South and have played vital roles in shaping Southern culture.

Like Black Country Music narrates tales of love, loss, and Southern life, Texas Hold ‘em also reflects these themes – the game’s mix of strategy. Chance mirrors the ups and downs depicted in many country songs.

The influence of Texas Hold ‘em on Black Country Music is evident in songs that use poker as a metaphor for life’s obstacles. For example, Kenny Rogers’s “The Gambler” advises listeners to “know when to hold ‘em know when to fold ‘em” as a life lesson. Furthermore, the popularity of Texas Hold ‘em in the region has resulted in its incorporation into various country music gatherings and occasions. This has further solidified the bond between the game and the musical style.

Photo credit: Author | image created with AI software

In conclusion, Black Country Music has seated origins that draw from diverse influences. From the blues to artists like Beyoncé and even Texas Hold ‘em, this genre showcases American musicians’ enduring creativity and resilience. Looking ahead, we can anticipate Black Country Music to continue evolving, pushing boundaries, and captivating audiences globally.

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Wayne Ince
ZORA

I write about social justice, mental health , politics, and marginalized communities. Editor of BreakingRanks. PHI THETA KAPPA