Country music legend June Carter Cash's daughter Carlene has defended Beyonce's decision to shift genres to country for her new album, Cowboy Carter.

Carlene, June's daughter by her first husband, Carl Smith, gave her blessing to the star, praising the musician, known as Beyonce Knowles-Carter following her 2008 marriage to Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter.

The 68-year-old, a country singer-songwriter whose mum was married to Johnny Cash and part of the legendary Carter family of musicians, also hit out of those who have criticised Beyonce's attempt to break new ground with her latest record.

In a statement published by Variety, she said: "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?

"She is an incredibly talented and creative woman who obviously wanted to do this because she likes country music. 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. Sometimes the country music "establishment" hasn't been all that welcoming and sometimes this was accepted with open arms. Like Chuck Berry said, 'it goes to show you never can tell.'"

The musician went on to say that Beyonce can now consider herself an honorary member of country music's most storied family.

"I am here to let Beyonce and to all those nay sayers know that I admire and love her and all she does," she added. "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 hearts, hearts that are filled with love not just for country music but for all kinds of music.

"Here's a warm welcome to the Carter Girl Club! It's only a matter of time before those nay sayers become Bey sayers."

Cowboy Carter has been a hit with critics, garnering largely positive reviews. However, there has been a backlash among some country fans criticising the authenticity of her move into country music.