Beyoncé’s latest musical offering is a shooting star. With the release of “Cowboy Carter,” the superstar has tapped into a new level of creativity and influence. Recognition for the work continues to pour in, with Beyoncé accepting the Innovator Award at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on Monday. Legendary talent Stevie Wonder presented Queen Bey with her award, after giving the audience a rundown of her many accomplishments and accolades.

“Now, Beyoncé is once again changing music and culture,” Wonder said. “Climbing into the saddle as a bonafide country music sensation with her latest masterpiece, “Cowboy Carter,” which may end up being the most talked about album in this century.”

In her acceptance speech, the singer recognized that the title of innovator often comes with negative backlash. “Being an innovator often means being criticized, which will often test your mental strength,” Beyoncé said. “My hope is that we are more open to the joy and liberation that comes from enjoying art with no preconceived notions.” 

The release of “Cowboy Carter” has opened the door for the already acclaimed artist to hit new highs. From breaking streaming records to showcasing forgotten or lesser known artists, the impact of the album is still being revealed.

Breaking Streaming Records

Following its March 29 release, “Cowboy Carter” has obliterated records on both Spotify and Amazon streaming services. Spotify announced on Instagram that “Cowboy Carter” became the platform’s most-streamed album in a single day in 2024. Amazon also announced that Beyoncé’s new album had the most first-day streams for a country album by a female artist.

Amplifying Black Women’s Voices

Beyoncé made sure to include the voices of Black women in country music on the new album. In doing so, she shared the bright spotlight with other country artists. One of the biggest features is Linda Martell, a country music pioneer who faced blatant racism during her complicated career. Martell was the first Black woman to play at the Grand ‘Ol Opry, but she eventually retired from the industry. After years of being all but forgotten by the country genre, she received the Country Music Television’s Equal Play Award in 2021. Beyoncé’s inclusion of Martell on two songs is another long overdue tribute to the groundbreaking singer.

Other Black women making waves in country music also have features on “Cowboy Carter.” Tanner Addell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy and Reyna Roberts sing along Beyoncé for her rendition of the song “Blackbiird.” The Beatles original was written by Paul McCartney, who said he had the struggles of Black women in mind when writing it. The story of the Little Rock Nine inspired the singer to write the song.

Celebrates Black History in Country

Martell’s presence alone is an education for many on the long history of Black people in the country genre. Still, Beyoncé provides several other historical references on her new album. Her album cover, for many, reclaimed the rodeo aesthetic for Black people. The album’s tracklist artwork nodded to the chitlin circuit, which was a collection of performance spaces for Black people. In these venues Black musicians, comedians and other entertainers could perform for other Black people during the painful era of segregation in the United States.