Beyoncé Tips Her Hat to Innovators Who Defied ‘Any Label Placed Upon Them’

As Beyoncé continues to smash barriers and reinvent American music with Cowboy Carter, the singer thanked those who paved the way by defying “any label placed upon them.”

When accepting the the Innovator Award by Stevie Wonder at the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards on Monday night, Beyoncé addressed the crowd. “Tonight you called me an innovator, and for that I’m very grateful,” she said. “Innovation starts with a dream. But then you have to execute that dream, and that road can be very bumpy. Being an innovator is seeing what everyone believes is impossible. Being an innovator often means being criticized, which often will test your mental strength.”

In turn, the star dedicated the award to “all the innovators who have dedicated their lives and their art to creating shifts.” She continued, “Thank you for your sacrifices, your powerful voices, and your dauntless spirits. Thank you to Rosetta Tharpe, Miss Tracy Chapman, Linda Martell, Prince, Stevie Wonder, André 3000, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, and so many more who defied any label placed upon them. Thank you for executing your dream so we could all follow.”

Beyoncé also expressed her hope that “all the record labels, every radio station, every award show” would be more “open to the joy and liberation that comes from enjoying art with no preconceived notions.”

When presenting the honor, Wonder called the 32-time Grammy winner “a true visionary.” Beyoncé thanked him in response and also revealed that he provided harmonica on her new album’s version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”


Following the release of Cowboy Carter last week, Rolling Stone revealed that music streams for artists featured on the LP — including Willie NelsonLinda Martell, and Dolly Parton — skyrocketed. Linda Martell, whose 1970 LP, Color Me Country, was the first major country album released by a Black woman, saw a jump of nearly 127,430 percent in catalog Spotify streams this past weekend.

In February, Beyoncé became the first Black woman artist to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in the modern history of country music, thanks to her single “Texas Hold ‘Em.” The track later topped the Hot 100 chart, marking the singer’s ninth time atop the chart as a solo artist. Last Friday, Spotify announced that Cowboy Carter currently holds the record for the most-streamed album in a single day in 2024.