Around this time last year, Coachella held its annual two-weekend music festival where attendees by the thousands from different parts of the world gathered in the deserts of California to experience their favorite performers live. Each year, Coachella features a headliner to close out the festival and, last year, Beyoncé became the first black woman to headline in Coachella history. So, she decided to turn the festival upside down.
Because of the importance of Beyoncé’s performance, she chose to construct a performance paying homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Beyoncé personally hand-picked her all-black orchestra, majorette dancers and vocalists, some who were members of HBCUs to bring to life black culture center stage for the world to see.
Fast forward one year later, Netflix posted a single promotion to their social media platform of one word, “HOMECOMING” onto a yellow background and the world already knew— Beyoncé was coming.
As someone who has been a fan of Beyoncé for many years, this day was important to see the inside of her creative mind and the driving force of her craft. As a black woman, this day was pivotal for the culture because we were able to witness history beautifully represented on a monumental platform.
As Beyonce’ś rendition of her 2016 single “Sorry” transitioned into the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” originally written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson, you could hear a pin drop in the audience. The harmonious and synchronized stomps from the dancers filled the air with a feeling of unity and strength that was obviously present on that stage.
After Beyoncé performed her hit record “Formation,” the scene faded and the b-roll began with a firm but passionate quote from the late Nina Simone on the importance of encouraging black youth.
“To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world, black people and I mean that in every sense. My job is to somehow make them curious enough or persuade them by hook or crook to get more aware of themselves and where they came, what they are into and what is already there. This is what compels me to compel them,” said Simone.
Black and white shots of Beyoncé rehearsing with her ensemble, giving and receiving feedback from everyone shifted my broad perception of a perfectionist. I assumed, in order to produce such an intricate performance, that it took a certain attitude and personality of sternness and abrasiveness. Beyoncé embodied neither of those qualities. Her compassion for the culture translated into respect and open-mindedness of the various individuals who performed alongside her that night.
“The amount of swag is limitless, the things that these young people can do with their bodies, the music they can play, the drum rolls, the haircuts and the bodies it’s just not right it’s just so much damn swag,” said Beyoncé.
The singer expressed that she wanted anyone who has ever been dismissed or marginalized to be represented on that stage which was exceeded that very night in April. She wanted to do more than just wear the flower crown but to bring her reality center stage.
The impact of the performance was so prodigious that her performance was renamed “Beychella.” I have witnessed little girls on my social media mimicking Beyonce’ś performance and that is when it hit me. This performance goes beyond Beyoncé herself but the younger generation, her successors of tomorrow that she impacts today. I will forever be moved by the sole fact that I got to live and experience the greatness of Beyoncé́, beyond what she means to the culture but what us as a people mean to her.
You can watch the documentary “Homecoming” on Netflix.