All the tea about the four Black country stars on Beyoncé’s ‘Blackbird’, including Brittney Spencer

Brittney Spencer, a black country music star featured on Cowboy Carter with Beyoncé

Beyoncé just dropped her new country-inspired album Cowboy Carter, featuring a litany of amazing artists featured on both original tracks and reimagined covers.

In particular, she covered The Beatles’ 1968 song “Blackbird” along with a quartet of incredible Black country singers: Tanner Adell, Tiera Kennedy, Brittney Spencer, and Reyna Roberts. Here’s what we know about them:

Who is Brittney Spencer?

Brittney Spencer became well-known after a viral Twitter video of her singing a cover of the song “Crowded Table” by the Highwomen was noticed by the group’s members Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires.

She also performed “Independence Day” by Martina McBride at the 2021 ACM Honors and closed out the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2022 with country music duo Brothers Osborne, both taking place at the iconic country music venue the Grand Ole Opry.

Spencer’s debut album, titled My Stupid Life, was released earlier this year and hailed by Rolling Stone as “a debut country record that’s certain to cement Spencer’s place in the genre”.

Who is Tanner Adell?

Tanner Adell is an American country music singer-songwriter whose debut album, Buckle Bunny, was released in 2023. Adell has said that she manifested her involvement with Beyoncé’s album, tweeting in February that she’d love to work with the star.

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She wrote: “As one of the only black girls in the country music scene, I hope Bey decides to sprinkle me with a dash of her magic for a collab.”

Adell thanked Beyoncé on X (formerly Twitter) after the album dropped.

Who is Tiera Kennedy?

Kennedy is best known as the host of Apple Music’s The Tiera Show, and covered Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” just last month. She discovered her voice at a young age and says that she taught herself how to play guitar by watching YouTube videos.

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she performed at local venues before opening up her horizons further, performing at iconic Nashville venues The Bluebird Café and The Listening Room.

Who is Reyna Roberts?

Reyna Roberts is an American country singer-songwriter and pianist. After the release of Cowboy Carter, Roberts said she was “thankful” to Beyoncé. On her Instagram story, she said: “I’m so thankful. You’ve always been my inspiration. I’m in awe of you forever and always Beyoncé.”

Roberts said that her music has been inadvertently promoted by Beyoncé’s foray into the country scene, telling Complex that she was “excited” for Beyoncé to make more country music.

“I love that she’s breaking down barriers and she’s already having an impact after the release of her two singles. I’ve gained probably close to 400,000 new followers across all my social media platforms, and people are also streaming my album, which is a huge deal because that doesn’t always translate,” Roberts explained.

Who sang “Blackbird” originally?

Blackbird was written by Paul McCartney and appeared on The Beatles’ 1968 album and is considered by many to be the perfect song for Beyoncé to cover.

The song was written in tribute to the civil rights movement, particularly the Little Rock Nine, a group of students who faced racial discrimination after attending the all-white Little Rock high school in 1957.

In 2018, McCartney told GQ Magazine: “I’d heard about the civil rights troubles that were happening in the 60s, in Alabama, Mississippi, Little Rock, in particular. I just thought it’d be really good if I could write something that if it ever reached any of the people going through those problems, it might give ’em a little bit of hope. So, I wrote Blackbird.”

Previously, McCartney said that the song was written with a Black woman in mind, “rather than a bird”.

“Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a Black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.’,” he was quoted as saying in the 1997 book Many Years From Now by Barry Miles.

Why did Beyoncé make Cowboy Carter?

Beyoncé in a silver outfit while performing on the Renaissance tour.
Beyoncé changed her mind about releasing Cowboy Carter before Renaissance. (Getty/Kevin Mazur)

Cowboy Carter is Beyoncé’s eight studio album and the second instalment of a three-part musical project – the first being Act I: Renaissance. It features 27 tracks and includes vocals and input from the likes of Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Post Malone, Linda Martell – who was the first Black female solo artist to play the Grand Ole Opry – and Willie Jones.

Earlier this month, Beyoncé posted a statement to her social media which read: “I feel honored to be the first Black woman with the number one single on the Hot Country Songs chart. That would not have happened without the outpouring of support from each and every one of you. My hope is that years from now, the mention of an artist’s race, as it relates to releasing genres of music, will be irrelevant.”

The artist also spoke out about feeling unwelcome within the country music space, leading her to do a “deeper dive into the history of country music”.

“The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me. act ii is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work,” she added.