Tanner Adell Talks Singing ‘Blackbiird’ With Beyoncé on ‘Cowboy Carter’

Tanner Adell manifested this. While attending Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour last summer, the 27-year-old country singer declared aloud, “I will work with Beyoncé in 2024.” Now, Adell has done just that, appearing on the singer’s chart-topping new album, Cowboy Carter, as a quarter on a tender rendition of the Beatles’s 1968 hit, “Blackbird.”

The singer, who has amassed a significant fan base of her own since moving to Nashville in 2021 to pursue a career in music, says nothing could have prepared her for being tapped to be on a Beyoncé album—which has already given her career a major boost since its worldwide release on Friday. Catching up with Adell by phone later that same day, she was giddy with excitement—and though she couldn’t share many details about working with the typically private superstar, she gushed about the overall experience: “I’ve been very blessed to have been put into Beyoncé’s way.”

Beyoncé’s “Blackbiird” stays true to the original, with Bey’s delicate vocals over a simple guitar arrangement. Adell is joined by fellow Black female country singers Reyna Roberts, Tiera Kennedy, and Brittney Spencer on the track for a beautiful five-part harmony that brings to mind early Destiny’s Child. (Adell also sings on “American Requiem,” while Kennedy, Spencer, and Roberts provide background harmonies on “Tyrant.”)

The musicians found out on the Wednesday prior to Cowboy Carter’s release that their song had made it on the album—and heard the final cut with the rest of the world when the record came out on Friday morning. Raised between Los Angeles and the heartland of Wyoming, Adell tells W she grew up on a diet of both country and pop music, making her collaboration with Beyoncé feel that much more like kismet. That eclectic blend of genres you hear on Cowboy Carter? It’s also evident on Adell’s 2023 EP, Buckle Bunny. Below, the artist discusses working with Queen Bey, her personal connection to “Blackbiird,” and what’s next for her solo career.

Has country music always been a part of your life?

My whole life was this back-and-forth and mix between, honestly, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Keith Urban, and Josh Turner. Since I moved to Nashville, I’ve been training myself, making this blend of country, pop, and hip-hop—which is everything that I’m made of.

Do you feel like this collaboration was simply a matter of fate?

Everyone has the ability to manifest their dreams, and I don’t think I’m different. I’ve been working really hard the last couple of years to get my music and my presence to a place where I’d be ready when someone like Beyoncé gives me the green light and includes me on such an iconic project. It could have been Beyoncé, could have been somebody else—but I’ve been working hard to make sure I would be ready for it.

Were you a fan of the original Beatles’s version of “Blackbird”?

Yes, my dad is a huge Beatles fan and “Blackbird” is actually his favorite song. When I called and told him the news, he put his hand on his chest, and I could tell he was getting emotional. It was a double wow: my daughter is on the Beyoncé album, and it’s also one of my favorite songs we’ve listened to on countless drives and road trips.

Were you familiar with the meaning behind the song being a tribute to women of the Civil Rights era?

Yeah, it really is so interesting—what this album does is shed light on bits of history that maybe we didn’t know. We’re watching these pieces of history be made mainstream.

In her writing about Cowboy Carter, Beyoncé has alluded to negative experiences she had with the country music industry as a Black woman. Did that resonate with you at all?

Nashville is one of my favorite places I’ve ever lived, and I’ve lived abroad—I’ve lived in Sweden for two years, I’ve been around the block. But the energy here is songwriting; it’s music. I’ve kept my head down and tried to write as much as possible. I’ve just tried to keep my blinders on and just move forward with my own artistry.

What was it like to hear your harmonies come together on the album?

It was magical. I heard “Blackbird” for the first time with the rest of the world, and heard how it was done just like everybody else. I don’t know if you can ever be prepared for a moment like that. Beyoncé handpicked the people who were on this album. A couple of my really good friends are on it, too—that’s going to unite us forever. We’ve been working hard out here in Nashville and Beyoncé’s starting to blow the top off of all this work.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got a single coming out on April 12th called “Whiskey Blues.” I just shot the music video for it yesterday. For this song, I went through a really, really tough heartbreak and unfortunately, which I think a lot of us tend to do, my coping mechanism was not yoga and working out. It was whiskey [laughs]. I’m human and that’s what this song is about. I tend to write from a place of confidence and strength as a woman, and I let myself be a little bit vulnerable on this. I tell my side of the story but in an upbeat, pop-country, banging kind of way.

The response on social media has been absolutely incredible. The support that I’ve gotten around this song ranges from, “I can’t wait to scream this at your shows,” to, “I’m bawling eyes out right now, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to listen to it without crying.” It’s resonating with people in all different ways, and that’s more than I could ask for. I love it when people interpret my songs the way that they feel.

There must be a lot of eyes on you right now—what’s it like?

There are definitely some eyes on me, and it’s been really exciting to talk to some people who are considered celebrities who have been sliding into my DMs and wishing me all the best. Doechii is an artist that I really, really love, and I saw that she followed me today on Instagram—that was a happy moment.

Who would you like to work with next?

It’s such a funny question because every time I’ve been asked that over the last three years, my answer has been Beyoncé. At this moment, I’m not even thinking about a collab. I’m just grateful to have been included in a work of art presented to us by Beyoncé.

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