Beyoncé Initially Planned to Release ‘Cowboy Carter’ Before ‘Renaissance,’ but ‘There Was Too Much Heaviness in the World’

Beyoncé once again brought the internet to a standstill with the release of her eighth studio album “Cowboy Carter” last night, but she explains that she initially had different plans for the 27-track project.

The singer revealed that she intended for “Cowboy Carter” to come before “Renaissance” — the first in a trilogy of albums that arrived in 2022 — but the pandemic led her to change her plans. “This album took over five years,” she said in a press release. “It’s been really great to have the time and the grace to be able to take my time with it. I was initially going to put ‘Cowboy Carter’ out first, but with the pandemic, there was too much heaviness in the world. We wanted to dance. We deserved to dance. But I had to trust God’s timing.”

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Beyoncé, who rarely makes public statements, revealed that each song on “Carter” is inspired by a different Western film. She often had the films playing during the recording process and named five as source material: “Five Fingers For Marseilles,” “Urban Cowboy,” “The Hateful Eight, “Space Cowboys,” “The Harder They Fall” and “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Some bits of percussion on the album were also inspired by the soundtrack for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

“My process is that I typically have to experiment,” says Beyoncé. “I enjoy being open to have the freedom to get all aspects of things I love out and so I worked on many songs. I recorded probably 100 songs. Once that is done, I am able to put the puzzle together and realize the consistencies and the common themes, and then create a solid body of work.”

For the album, an homage to country, blues and Black folk, Beyoncé sought to use “real instrumentation” including the accordion, washboard and pedal steel guitar. She makes it a point to note that she used her nails as percussion, much like Dolly Parton had done while recording “9 to 5.” All the sounds were so organic and human, everyday things like the wind, snaps and even the sound of birds and chickens, the sounds of nature,” she explained.

She also revealed that the character of Cowboy Carter was inspired by the “original Black cowboys of the American West,” noting that the term “cowboy” was used to belittle former slaves as “boys.” She created Cowboy Carter to negate the connotation and highlight “the strength and resiliency of these men who were the true definition of Western fortitude.”

“Carter,” which took five years to record, features a laundry list of collaborators and inspirations. Though credits were not included in the album’s release rollout, she worked with many musicians across the project including The-Dream, Pharrell Williams, NO ID, Raphael Saadiq, Ryan Tedder, Ryan Beatty, Swizz Beatz, Khirye Tyler, Derek Dixie, Ink, Nova Wav, Mamii, Cam, Tyler Johnson, Dave Hamelin, and her husband Jay-Z.

Beyond the exhaustive list, “Carter” also features contributions from Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Linda Martell, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Jon Batiste, Rhiannon Giddens, Nile Rodgers, Robert Randolph, Gary Clark, Jr., Willie Jones, Brittney Spencer, Shaboozey, Reyna Roberts, Tanner Adell and Tiera Kennedy.

With all the musicians helping to execute her vision, Beyoncé explains that she considers “Carter” her finest work. “I think people are going to be surprised because I don’t think this music is what everyone expects,” she says, “but it’s the best music I’ve ever made.”

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