Beyoncé may not have taken home all nine awards she was nominated for at last night’s 59th Annual Grammy ceremony, but one thing is for sure. She delivered a teachable performance of iconic proportions.
I will say it again: Beyoncé was teaching.
Heavily pregnant with twins, the megastar took to the stage to perform “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” from her Album of the Year-nominated work, Lemonade, and performed her 2004 hit, “Dangerously in Love.”
With an introduction from her mother, Tina Knowles, Beyoncé digitally appeared regal and ethereal on stage and for the next nearly 10 minutes, educated us on the African, Hindu and Roman goddesses who have influenced her life spiritually, artistically and maternally. And did I forget to mention the many Black women she invited to the “Last Supper” table scene?
But these ideas did not start or end with a single performance. This started when the singer released her pregnancy photos earlier this month and dropped a slew of clues inside her much-anticipated performance.
Beyoncé’s performance had nothing to do with whatever God you choose to worship or idolize, but about celebrating a group of marginalized individuals through an ancient culture that placed them at the helm of life, love and beauty. First appearing in yellow drapes floating around her pregnant body and long, flowing hair frolicking in water, she referenced Mami Wata, the African water goddess who represented beauty, trade, power and love.
The embodiment of Oshun (Osun), a Yoruba water goddess of love and fertility, made an appearance again as she has throughout the Lemonade visual project. Adorned with a gold crown and at one point draped with long rolls of silk tributes, the Hindi goddess Kali, often seen as many-armed and responsible for love, death and sexuality with an array of flowers present on stage, also made an appearance. And we can’t forget about Venus, the Roman goddess of love and sex (notes are found on the “Ring the Alarm” singer’s website referencing her love of Venus).
Upon receiving the award for “Best Urban Contemporary Album,” Beyoncé summed up Lemonade and why the imagery and visuals were so culturally rich and needed to be produced.
“My intention for the film and album was to create a body of work that would give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness and our history–to confront issues that make us uncomfortable.”
“It’s important for me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror, first in their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the Grammys, and see themselves and have no doubt that they’re beautiful, intelligent and capable. This is something I want for every child of every race,” she continued.
To sum up the performance and the current state of the world, she ended with the poetry ot Warsan Shire: “If we’re going to heal, let it be glorious.” Ashe.