Beyoncé is no stranger to easter eggs. We’re talking about a woman who promoted the release of her 2014 song “7/11” by coyly sipping a Slurpee in view of paparazzi, and who slipped a hint at the title of her 2022 album into a 2021 Harper’s Bazaar interview while discussing the music she’d been working on during the pandemic. “I feel a renaissance”—italics ours— “emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible,” she said. So if her Grammy-night look—a conspicuous white hat and rodeo-themed suit from Louis Vuitton’s Fall-Winter 2024 menswear collection—is any indication, it appears that a country album may be imminent.
Reason 1: We know Renaissance is part of a trilogy, and rumor has it the next installment features acoustic guitars.
Rumors about Beyoncé’s foray into country music began swirling around just a few hours after Beyoncé announced her seventh studio album Renaissance on June 16, 2022. Later that same day, “a source familiar with the project” told Variety that Renaissance—which Beyoncé referred to as “Act I” in her initial announcement—might feature “both dance and country-leaning tracks,” or that the dance and country songs might see release as two separate albums. In July, Beyoncé confirmed via her Web site that Renaissance would be a three-act project; in November, in a now-deleted Tweet, New York Times pop-culture reporter Kyle Buchanan said Act II of the Renaissance trilogy would be an “acoustic album,” and that Act III would be a collaboration with Jay-Z.
Reason 2: She’s already released at least one country song (even if the Grammys disagreed)
From Lemonade to Black is King and Renaissance, Beyoncé has been on a journey of reclamation. On Lemonade’s “Daddy Lessons,” she asserted her Black Southern heritage over a stomping, acoustic-guitar-driven track complete with harmonica solo. Although the track had all the trappings of a modern country song, when Beyoncé submitted it for Grammy contention, the Recording Academy’s country-music committee rejected it from contention for Grammy awards in the country category.
Beyoncé went on to perform the song on the Country Music Association awards telecast in 2016, even coaxing the Chicks back onto the CMA stage for the first time since they were exiled by the country-music community for speaking out against George W. Bush and the Iraq war in 2003. (“I’m pretty sure I’ve uttered the sentence, ‘I will never perform on the CMA’s again as long as I live.’ And then came 🐝:),” the Chicks’ Natalie Maines tweeted back then.)
While the lyrics to post-Lemonade single “Black Parade” invoked images of Africa, Beyoncé began the song by singing, “I’m going back to the South…where my roots ain’t watered down.” Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé also notably featured extensive scenes in her hometown of Houston. What would be a better love letter to her Southern roots than a country album?