From Coachella to Beychella

Article originally appeared in Talawanda Tribune’s Changing Perspectives Magazine, May 2019

From Coachella to Beychella

Famed pop singer, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter made history by being the first black woman to headline Coachella, one of the biggest music festivals around today. A year later, she celebrates by dropping a documentary of the experience on Netflix, along with a live album of her performance. The film “Homecoming” is over two hours and features long, uninterrupted segments showing her out-of-this-world stage show. Intermittently the musical segments are broken up by clips of her and her talented crew of dancers, singers and musicians at rehearsal.

The montages featuring the behind the scenes give a sense of intimacy to the show. The voice-over provided by the legend herself tells the story of her recovery after the birth of her twins during April of 2017, including her shockingly strict diet (no bread, carbs, dairy, sugar, meat, fish or alcohol) and the struggle in working towards building the endurance she needed to keep up with her high-energy performance. It also includes her eldest daughter, Blue Ivy, as well as her newest twins, Sir Carter and Rumi. Beyoncé discusses her challenges in being there for her children, while also giving everything she could to make the show reach her standards.

These candid scenes also showed cuts of her phenomenal crew. Her marching band, male and female dance crews, and background vocalists totaled up to over 200 people on the stage. These talented young men and women came from Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Beyoncé herself admits that she wished to attend an HBCU, but was busy with her music career. The students make funny faces and show off their impressive talents for the camera. They talk openly about the impact of working on the show and the honor of working with one of the most notable pop figures of all time.

The main theme throughout her stunning performance surrounds black history and the importance of protecting it and keeping it alive. The show features voice-overs from significant black historical figures such as W.E.B Dubois, Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou. “When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella,” Carter shares about her decision to make her show a tribute to black culture: “I wanted us to be proud not only of the show but…the process. Proud of the struggle. Thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history and rejoices in the pain. Rejoice in the imperfections and the wrongs that are so damn right. And I wanted everyone to feel grateful for their curves, their sass, their honesty, thankful for their freedom. It was no rules, and we were able to create a free, safe space where none of us were marginalized,” she said, making it clear that the appreciation of black culture was her top priority.

Beyoncé goes on to explain that she felt as if her trailblazing moment was overdue. “It was important to me that everyone that had never seen themselves represented felt like they were on that stage with us,” she said. The film is being described as an “ode to black women,” and it’s not hard to see why. “As a black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box. And black women often feel underestimated,” she shared.

Her songs and personality send a message to anyone underestimating her and instead paints a picture of who she wants to be portrayed as: a hustler. Being at the top comes with a responsibility to celebrate her culture, and Beyoncé pulls out all stops in bringing it into her shows.

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