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When trailblazers collide // Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter” inspired in part by “Five Fingers for Marseilles”

Beyoncé has cited the groundbreaking Neo-Western set in South Africa as one of the key influences shaping her new album’s celebration of Black cowboys.

And it’s clear why – like “Cowboy Carter”, “Five Fingers” boldly reclaims frontier mythology, demanding space for marginalized voices in a genre that’s long excluded them.

Beyoncé rides into new territory with “Cowboy Carter”, an epic sonic journey across the African diaspora’s rich legacy in Americana.
“My process is that I typically have to experiment,” Beyoncé says. “I enjoy being open to having the freedom to get all aspects of things I love out and so I worked on many songs.  I recorded probably 100 songs. Once that is done, I am able to put the puzzle together and realize the consistencies and the common themes, and then create a solid body of work.” 
The album is an experiment indeed. Each song is its own version of a reimagined Western film. She took inspiration from films like “Five Fingers For Marseilles,” “Urban Cowboy,” “The Hateful Eight, “Space Cowboys,” “The Harder They Fall” and “Killers of the Flower Moon,” often having the films playing on a screen during the recording process. Some aspects of the percussion were inspired by the ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ soundtrack, where it was more Bluegrass. This body of work undulates from singing cowboy and Blaxploitation to Spaghetti westerns and fantasy with Beyoncé weaving between personal experiences, honoring Black history, to exaggerated character building.
From the grit of South Africa to the sounds of the South, these projects are united in reclaiming Black and African cowboy stories. They shatter ceilings and forge new paths, redefining a genre and industry.
Shot in 2017 in the unforgiving Eastern Cape mountains, “Five Fingers” rewrites the rules of the West to tell a powerful story of resistance. Directed by Michael Matthews, written by Sean Drummond, and lensed by Shaun Harley Lee, the film showcases an all-star South African cast including Vuyo Dabula, Hamilton Dlamini, Zethu Dlomo and Mduduzi Mabaso.
The late, great Moonyeenn Lee led casting, Pierre Vienings designed costumes, Franz Lewis crafted sets, and Daniel Mitchel edited, with a score by James Matthes. Against all odds, these and the rest of the stellar crew gave urgent voice to a story the world hadn’t seen before.
Producers; Asger Hussain, Yaron Schwartzman, Sean Drummond, Michael Matthews, and Paulo Areal brought the ambitious film to life. They were joined by executive producers Joshua A. Green, Dumi Gumbi, and Jeff Hoffman, with Dylan Voogt as co-producer and key support from the local community of Lady Grey and the Governmental bodies NFVF and DTI.
The film premiered internationally at TIFF – Toronto International Film Festival and was distributed locally by Indigenous Film Distribution and globally by XYZ, Uncork’d Entertainment, and Reel Suspects, It is streaming now on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Showmax.
Cinematography and Still images by Shaun Harley Lee & Graham Bartholomew.
#CowboyCarterMeetsFiveFingers #Stage5Films #Beyonce #CowboyCarter
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DATE: 22 / 03 / 2024