Everything We Know About Beyoncé’s New Album Cowboy Carter

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Beyoncé has released more artwork and a statement ahead of her forthcoming album Cowboy Carter. In a photo shared on her Instagram page and website, the singer sits on a horse wearing a cowboy hat and a sash displaying the album title. She holds the American flag to complete the red, white, and blue cowboy look.

"This ain't a Country album. This is a "Beyoncé" album," she writes in the post.

Cowboy Carter, out March 29, is Act II of Beyoncé’s album trilogy, following 2022's Renaissance.

"I focused on this album as a continuation of Renaissance," Beyoncé writes. "I hope this music is an experience, creating another journey where you can close your eyes, start from the beginning and never stop."

Act II has been highly anticipated since Beyoncé referred to Renaissance as "Act I" and wrote in the liner notes that accompanied the album: “This three act project was recorded over three years during the pandemic. A time to be still, but also a time I found to be the most creative.” Beyoncé’s Renaissance era ended with the release of the supporting tour film in December 2023, and one last surprise drop, the single “MY HOUSE,” which was featured at the end of the film and later released to streaming services.

Beyoncé confirmed a second album during the Super Bowl on Feb. 11, when in her Verizon commercial with Tony Hale, she says, “Okay, drop the new music.“ Shortly after, she released the lead singles "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages," and announced Act II on her social media channels.

The star is known for being selective about what she reveals about her projects before they are released. Here’s everything we know about her new album, Cowboy Carter.

The meaning behind Cowboy Carter

Beyoncé confirmed fan theories that she had been working on a country album for at least a couple years, saying the project has been over five years in the making.

"It was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed…and it was very clear that I wasn’t,” Beyoncé writes. “But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive.”

The criticisms she faced about not being a country artist “forced me to propel past the limitations" that were put on her, she writes. The album is a "result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work."

She adds that the album will include a few surprises and that she's "collaborated with some brilliant artists who I deeply respect." Act II will continue Beyoncé's love for honoring those who have paved the way before her. With Renaissance, Beyoncé paid homage to Black queer artists who pioneered house and disco music. On Cowboy Carter, she appears to be doing the same—recruiting Black country stars like banjo player Rhiannon Giddens on “Texas Hold ‘Em” and steel guitarist Robert Randolph on “16 Carriages.”

In a recent interview, the country legend Dolly Parton said Beyoncé had recorded a version of her hit song “Jolene.” “I think it’s probably gonna be on her country album, which I’m very excited about,” she said. “I love her! She’s a beautiful girl and a great singer.”

On March 27, Beyoncé unveiled the tracklist, posting a rodeo poster-inspired graphic that shared the song titles. At the top of the poster, it says, “Cowboy Carter and the Rodeo Chitlin Circuit.” The Chitlin Circuit is a series of performance venues that booked Black musicians and performers during the Jim Crow era. The poster shows 26 bubbles that seem to have titles for different songs, including one that seems to be called “Jolene,” though it is unclear whether the song is a cover or a sample. Another bubble says “Dolly P,” indicating that Parton will be featured in some form.

There are also bubbles that say “Smoke Hour,” seemingly containing a feature with Willie Nelson and another that says, “The Linda Martell Show.” Theories have begun to circulate that a long-awaited “Telephone” part two collaboration with Lady Gaga could also be on the album, as there’s a song titled “II Most Wanted.” This could be seen as a reference to the 2009 collaboration, where at the end of the video, the words “to be continued” appear.

Cowboy Carter singles “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages” make history

In 2016, Beyoncé performed "Formation," the lead single off Lemonade, to an audience of 115.5 million viewers at the Super Bowl. This year, she harnessed the power of the NFL again to announce new music during a Super Bowl Verizon ad. As fans scrambled to figure out what new music she was referring to, Beyoncé shared on Instagram that two new songs, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages,” were available to stream.

For a short period of time, the songs were only available on Tidal before they came to Spotify. On Feb. 26, “Texas Hold ‘Em” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming Beyoncé's ninth single to top the chart. The song also topped the publication’s Hot Country Songs chart, making Beyoncé the first Black woman to achieve this honor. This came as, online, debate over Beyoncé’s country roots and the erasure of Black artists who pioneered the genre grew after an Oklahoma-based radio station refused to play Beyoncé’s new song per a fan’s request."Hi—we do not play Beyonce on KYKC as we are a country music station,” the station replied to a listener’s request. After facing backlash, KYKC ended up playing the song.

In a TIME op-ed, music journalist Taylor Crumpton wrote an op-ed for TIME about how Beyoncé has used her platform to uplift Black musicians who have made a name for themselves in the predominantly white space of mainstream country music. “The failure of country music’s ‘truth’ is that those who created the genre never left—in spite of the fact that they may have not been perceived by those holding positions of power in the country music industry,” Crumpton wrote. “Knowles-Carter’s presence in country music is signaling the birth of a new era, a renaissance if you will. It is time for the institutional oppressive regimes of country music to be removed, and for those who have continued to carry on the legacy of country’s music heart and soul to be seated at the table.”

Beyoncé acknowledged the success of the songs in her post on Tuesday.

"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," she writes. "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."

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Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com