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Country Singer Tiera Kennedy Talks New Album, Beyoncé Collab

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Tiera Kennedy will always look back on the first half of 2024 as the start of an artistic renaissance ― thanks, in part, to a surprise boost from Beyoncé.

Last month, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter unveiled “I Ain’t a Cowgirl,” the first single from her forthcoming debut album, “Rooted.” The tender, guitar-driven ballad reflects her decision to forge her own path as a country musician, despite not adhering to the tried-and-true mode many associate with the genre.

“For a long time, I was masking a lot of my emotions because I didn’t want to come off as ungrateful,” Kennedy told HuffPost. “But this is a tough industry. I was at a place in my life and in my career where things were out of my hands, and that’s a difficult place to be. I felt more free putting that into a song, as opposed to trying to skim over the fact that I was unhappy.”

Watch the music video for “I Ain’t a Cowgirl” below.

As to what listeners can expect from “Rooted,” due out this fall, she said: “Most of it stems from personal relationships. There are a lot of songs about my husband [Kamren Kennedy], but it also spans the grief process. We tap into a bit of anger. This is who I am, unapologetically.”

Though “Rooted” is Kennedy’s first full-length album, the Alabama native has been active in the Nashville music scene for about eight years. She rose to prominence on the music competition series “Real Country” in 2018, where she was mentored by Shania Twain. Three years later, she was signed to a record contract by Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta, who helped catapult Taylor Swift to stardom nearly two decades ago.

Under her Big Machine deal, Kennedy released the anthemic singles “Found It In You” and “Jesus, My Mama, My Therapist.” Last year, however, she was dropped by the label. It wasn’t long, however, before that professional low point gave way to an artistic breakthrough, when she was tapped by Beyoncé to appear on “Cowboy Carter,” the 32-time Grammy winner’s country album, released in March.

Tiera Kennedy will unveil her debut solo album, “Rooted,” this fall.

Gilbert Flores via Getty Images

Kennedy and fellow Nashville artists Tanner Adell, Reyna Roberts and Brittney Spencer provide the dreamy harmonies on “Blackbiird,” Beyoncé‘s cover of The Beatles’ 1968 hit, “Blackbird.” She also sings backup on “Tyrant,” one of two “Cowboy Carter” tracks to feature a guest appearance by Dolly Parton.

“It’s the most pivotal moment in my career thus far. I felt so many emotions, experiencing my lowest low right next to my highest high,” Kennedy said, recalling the moment she learned she’d be a part of “Cowboy Carter” after losing her record contract. “After being dropped by my label, it felt like God saying: ‘This is your moment.’ Beyoncé is one of my favorite artists, and I’ve dreamed of working with her, but I didn’t know if it would ever happen. It’s the biggest validation I could have asked for.”

By all accounts, “Cowboy Carter” has been both a critical and commercial smash. The album’s first single, “Texas Hold ’Em,” made Beyoncé the first Black female artist to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. The album became her eighth to reach the No. 1 spot in the U.S. and topped the charts in Australia, France and Germany, among other countries.

Tiera Kennedy, on right, poses with fellow musicians Reyna Roberts, Tanner Adell and Brittney Spencer. All are featured on Beyoncé's "Cowboy Carter" album.
Tiera Kennedy, on right, poses with fellow musicians Reyna Roberts, Tanner Adell and Brittney Spencer. All are featured on Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter” album.

John Shearer via Getty Images

Sales figures aside, Kennedy was deeply impressed by the level of research Beyoncé and her team undertook to reflect the challenges Black women continue to face in country music.

“Even as a country artist myself, I learned so much. I actually didn’t know the history of ‘Blackbird’ [which was written by Paul McCartney in response to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s] before we recorded it,” she said. “She didn’t just put out an album with great songs; she put out an album that means something. It’s had an impact not just on country music but music as a whole.”

Witnessing the success of “Cowboy Carter” has encouraged Kennedy to lean more into R&B and other music genres, too.

Tiera Kennedy, left, with husband Kamren Kennedy at the 2023 CMA Awards.
Tiera Kennedy, left, with husband Kamren Kennedy at the 2023 CMA Awards.

Brett Carlsen via Getty Images

“When Beyoncé said, ‘This ain’t a country album, this is a ‘Beyoncé’ album,’ that was so eye-opening to me,” she said. “I’m always going to be country at my core, but I also have other influences.”

Kennedy plans to spend the remainder of 2024 supporting the release of “Rooted,” both on the road and with an assortment of new singles. She’s also started thinking ahead to her sophomore album, which she says will dig deeper into the sonic and lyrical vibes of “Rooted.”

“I feel so free, and I’m open to different sounds and possibilities,” she explained. “I think that’s when you get albums like ‘Cowboy Carter.’ There isn’t another album out there that sounds like ‘Cowboy Carter.’ That, to me, is inspiration for my music. I want to make something that is unique to me, something that other people can’t do.”





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