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If You Ask Me... This is Beyoncé Country

This month, Flo Whitaker considers a recent showbiz altercation and asks, “If a black woman from Texas can’t make a country album - who can?”

Whenever I see a picture of Beyoncé, my second thought is always, “Wow! She’s beautiful”, (my first is, “Blimey! There’s a woman who hasn’t eaten carbs in twenty years”.) In any walk of life, you’ll occasionally find someone with an aura of otherness. Their extraordinary talent, combined with steely discipline makes them stand out. Like her or not, you can’t fault Beyoncé’s work ethic; she writes them, produces them, choreographs them and performs them - in high heels. If she hadn’t become a music star, she’d still have a highly successful career in another area because she has ambition, drive and self-belief.

Beyoncé is adored by millions, but even that cosy fan blanket couldn’t shield her from the icy blast after she had the temerity to announce a country-themed album. The self-appointed guardians of ‘real’ country demanded she stopped appropriating their music and their cultural references; seemingly outraged at the notion of a Houston born-and-raised woman donning a Stetson hat. How dare she?

I listen to all types of music and still buy many records and CD’s. To maintain some sense of order, everything is filed alphabetically; from Albinoni, (born 1671) to ZZ Top. In this utopian, non-judgemental world, Bizet and Billy Bragg happily co-exist on the shelves, as do BB King and Carole King. Bob Marley, Motorhead and Mozart cosy up together, Pink Floyd hang out with the Pixies, Sinatra’s with Slade and the Ramones and Ravel get along just fine.

Cultural appropriation? No, music is for everyone – and there’s plenty to choose from. If you don’t like what you hear, just move on – flick the switch, turn the dial or hit the shuffle function. I’m a Devon girl who’s seldom ventured from these shores. The closest I’ve got to Alabama, USA is the Isles of Scilly, but I’m not giving up my Hank Williams records for anyone.

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