BY: RANDALL KEITH
Music fans are in an uproar after the Queen Bey herself, Beyoncé, performed the classic hymn, “Take my hand, Precious Lord” at the 57th annual Grammy Awards. Before the Grammys aired, media sites reported that Beyoncé had been chosen by the Grammy committee to perform the song, instead of singer Ledisi. Ledisi played the role of Mahalia Jackson in the movie Selma, and sang the song in a moving scene with David Oyelowo who starred as the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Some hoped that Beyoncé would invite Ledisi on stage to share the moment if she was indeed summoned by the Grammys to do so, but an interview with John Legend revealed that Beyoncé, asked to sing the song; creating an obvious snub of Ledisi, who attended the Grammy’s and was nominated.
While we can go on for hours about the validity of Beyoncé’s performance, I took some time to try to find the silver lining in the situation, and to my surprise, it wasn’t too hard. After watching the rehearsal video released by Beyoncé’s team, I realized that great things resulted from Beyoncé taking the stage. Here's a list of three things we can appreciate from Beyonce's performance.
- The first and most obvious result is that millions of people were introduced to a classic hymn that focuses on the need for spiritual guidance. Beyoncé has a fan base and name recognition like no other celebrity of our time. Old people even recognize her as a great. Those fans, or STANS, that eat, sleep and breathe everything Beyoncé, were forced to listen to a song that has moved hearts and minds for years. Of course if Ledisi had performed the song the opportunity would have still been present, but I think we can all agree that people would have walked away from their television knowing that a less popular artist was performing. The simple fact that Beyoncé was performing made people attentive and open. She could have sang the alphabet song and people would tune in because she is, Beyoncé!
- Beyoncé performed with a choir of all Black Male vocalists. When I first saw a picture from the performance, I questioned why she was on stage with only men. Beyoncé, for most of her time as a solo artist has prided herself on representing for the ladies – having an all-female band and all female dancers in recent years. Watching the rehearsal video revealed that her goal was to depict “the strength and vulnerability of black men”. In the video the black men speak of their experiences with police and being profiled by the general public. Since we have criticized celebrities for failing to stand up publically in support the recent events in Ferguson, MO and New York, I think we have to acknowledge the efforts of those that claim to make a statement. Much like the exposure given to the song, Beyoncé’s platform also gives a voice to the men in this video who share their story and allow those people removed from the black community to hear a different perspective. A sincere, and vulnerable perspective.
- Millions of people get to see that, to Beyoncé, Black lives matter! Before you write me off and say, “Why does that matter?”, stop and think about the level of influence Beyoncé has. This movement that is still alive and well on the grass roots level, is being subliminally endorsed by the Queen of Pop Culture. This drives home the message in a way that is easier for nay-sayers or just folks that are ignorant, to accept. Sure we can have an impactful movement without Beyonce, but consider what the result of mainstream attention can do.
Since we can’t change the fact that Beyoncé performed the song, we can at least recognize the good that comes out of it and move the conversation in that direction. We never know, there may be a Ledisi/Beyoncé collaboration real soon.
Check out Ledisi’s graceful response to the controversial performance.
What do you think about the performance?