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SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF APR 08, 2024

Beyoncé's 'historic' new album, 'Country Carter,' is 'breaking down barriers'

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Share a catchy sentence from a Beyoncé review or feature story.
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Find a local music article, listing or ad. What's the topic?
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Tell two things you like or learn from different pop culture coverage.

America's top pop diva makes a bold splash again with her first country-style album, an instant hit. With 27 tracks spanning 78 minutes, "Country Carter" by Beyoncé "is a payload of provocation and flat-out astonishing music," journalist Spencer Kornhaber wrote last week in The Atlantic magazine. "Humble country touchstones—banjo licks, lyrics about boots and spurs—are stitched, with seams showing, to dizzying dance beats, lushly stacked vocal harmonies, and cartoonishly giddy raps and chants."

The star's eighth solo release is shaped by her Southern heritage -- "folks down in Galveston, rooted in Louisiana" . . . "grandbaby of a moonshine man." The cover shows her holding an American flag while wearing a red, white and blue rodeo gear and riding a white horse sidesaddle. She embraces a music niche based mainly in Nashville that has excluded many Black singers. Washington Post culture writer Emilyn Yahr calls it "a historic moment" and explains why: "Not only is Beyoncé using her enormous platform to deliver an artistic statement and raise the profile of other Black country artists, the highly hyped album could help reframe the way audiences feel about the genre." Similarly, New York Times pop critic Jon Caramanica notes that "mainstream country music often feels like a closed loop of white male storytelling."

The diverse album, which dropped March 29 as two vinyl records and in other formats, also has bits of hip-hop, pop, rhythm and blues, opera and even a brief snatch of Irish music. Well-known collaborators and guest vocalists include Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Linda Martell, Tanner Adell, Jon Batiste, Willie Jones, Raphael Saadiq, The-Dream and Shaboozey. "Country Carter" earned more first-day streams on Amazon Music globally than any of Queen Bey's past albums. An advance single, "Texas Hold 'Em" has been streamed over 200 million times on Spotify since February. "This could be a major turning point,” says Leslie Fram, a former radio DJ who's now a senior vice president at Country Music Television. Another industry insider, Tom Poleman of iHeartMedia (America's biggest radio chain), tells The New York Times: "Beyonce is doing what every few artists have ever done. She's breaking down barriers, showing that a great artist is bigger than any genre definition."

'Queen Bey' says: "I feel honored to be the first Black woman with the number one single on [Billboard's] Hot Country Songs chart." – Instagram post about 'Texas Hold 'Em'

Detractor says: "Bey's spin on Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' misses the mark of what makes that song so potent. It's a shallow cover not really worth swimming around in." – Kady Ruth Ashcraft, senior culture writer at jezebel.com

Admirer says: "Girl, you're killing it.” – Roberta Lea, singer-guitarist in a singers' collective called Black Opry

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2024

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