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June Carter Cash’s daughter Carlene slams Beyoncé critics: ‘She’s one of us’

Carlene Carter, whose mother and grandmother were members of country music's legendary Carter Family, called Beyoncé "one of us Carter girls."
/ Source: TODAY

Carlene Carter is addressing the controversy around Beyoncé’s new country music-tinged album “Cowboy Carter.”

The Grammy-nominated country music singer — whose mother, June Carter Cash, and grandmother, Maybelle Carter, were members of country music’s legendary Carter Family, and whose stepdad, Johnny Cash, was one of the genre’s outlaw heroes of the 1960s and ‘70s — said a statement obtained by that Beyoncé is “one of the Carter women.”

“I’ve caught wind of some negativity over the release of Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter,’ her new country album,” Carter’s statement began. “As a Carter Girl myself and coming from a long line of Carter Girls, I’m moved to ask why anyone would treat a Carter this way?

Carter called the “Texas Hold ‘Em” singer, whose surname Carter comes via her marriage to rapper Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, “an incredibly talented and creative woman” who “obviously wanted to do this because she likes country music.”

Beyonce and Carlene Carter
Country music star Carlene Carter, right, issued a statement praising Beyoncé for recording her new country-tinged album "Cowboy Carter."Francis Specker / Gary Gershoff / Getty Images

"In my book, she’s one of us Carter women and we have always pushed the boundaries by trying whatever music we felt in our hearts and taking spirit-driven risks,” she wrote. 

“Sometimes the country music ‘establishment’ hasn’t been all that welcoming and sometimes this was accepted with open arms,” she continued. “Like Chuck Berry said, ‘it goes to show you never can tell.”

Carlene Carter went on to praise Beyoncé’s creativity and “spunk.”

“I am here to let Beyoncé and to all those nay sayers know that I admire and love her and all she does. I am delighted to know that Carter spunk is in her just like it’s been through nearly 100 years of us Carters choosing to follow ours (sic) hearts, hearts that are filled with love not just for country music but for all kinds of music,” she wrote.

Carter, whose family has long been called the first family of country music, concluded her post by extending a “warm welcome” to the “Bodyguard” singer as a new member of the “Carter Girl Club.”

“It’s only a matter of time before those nay sayers become Bey sayers,” she quipped.

She signed the statement with “much love and support.”

Carlene Carter’s praise for Beyoncé comes less than a week after the former Destiny’s Child singer released her groundbreaking, genre-defying “Cowboy Carter” album on March 29.

The “Ya Ya” singer has made headlines for weeks for delving into country music on several of the album’s songs, including the twangy “Texas Hold ‘Em” and a cover of Dolly Parton’s iconic “Jolene.” The album, whose cover shows Beyoncé wearing a cowboy hat while riding a horse, features appearances by Parton and fellow country music legend Willie Nelson, among other Americana musicians.

Beyoncé previously hinted that she was inspired to record “Cowboy Carter” after an experience when she “did not feel welcomed.”

“This album 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 wrote in a March 19 Instagram post.

“The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me,” she added. “Act ii is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work.”

Many fans believe the singer’s statement was a reference to her joint performance with the Dixie Chicks, now known as The Chicks, at the Country Music Association Awards.

As Beyoncé and The Chicks performed “Daddy Lessons,” a country-flavored song off Beyoncé’s 2016 album “Lemonade,” some audience members loudly booed.

Viewers had mixed reactions to the performance online, with some critics posting blatantly racist responses.

The pairing of Beyoncé with The Chicks was even more of a hot-button issue because The Chicks fell out of favor with some country music fans in the early 2000s after criticizing then-president George W. Bush and the Iraq War and engaging in a public feud with the late Toby Keith.)

The influential Carter Family was among the first stars of country music, recording songs from the early 1920s into the 1950s.

The music group — originally consisting of Alvin P. Carter, his wife, Sara Carter, and their sister-in-law, Maybelle Carter — recorded versions of traditional songs including “Can the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Wildwood Flower,” “Keep on the Sunny Side” that became standards of the genre.

Maybelle Carter’s daughter June Carter, later joined the group and launched a solo singing career. The five-time Grammy winner welcomed Carlene Cash with her first husband, Carl Smith.

June Carter later welcomed another daughter, late country music singer Rosie Nix Adams, with second husband Edwin “Rip” Nix, before falling in love with and marrying rebellious country music singer Johnny Cash. Carter and Cash welcomed one child, a son, singer John Carter Cash.

Cash and his first wife, the former Vivian Cash, had four daughters together, including singers Roseanne and Cindy Cash.