Beyoncé: the power of a change activist

Beyoncé, 38, has shown us her genius since the release of No, no, no by Destiny’s Child in 1997, and on the occasion of the release of Black Is King – the new visual album inspired by The Lion King on Disney + from July 31 – it’s clear that its power is far from waning. In 2014, she was at the top of the list of Time magazine of the most influential people and in 2018 the BBC Radio 4 program Woman’s Hour he named her the most powerful woman in music. Among his hits, Formation, If I Were a Boy, Crazy In Love, Baby Boy and many, many others.

In her last decade of career, Beyoncé has increasingly entered the political sphere, transposing the ideologies of writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Audre Lorde into her music videos. The vehemence of his most explicit positions in recent years has been the subject of both celebration and criticism. But, wherever you are, here it is the nine reasons for which the superstar’s 23-year career is socially, politically and culturally relevant and why the singer has gained tremendous power as a change activist.

1. It never stops evolving

It’s easy to forget that Beyoncé went through numerous iterations during her public life. The Queen Bey era has spanned three decades for now and the star has shone from her first girl band, Girl’s Tyme, in camouflage during the years of Survivor with Destiny’s Child, until you get there that performance at Coachella in 2018.

Over the years, her personality has also evolved, from a shy teenager to the point of thanking a presenter for pointing out that however, she was Beyoncé, her shade compilations on YouTube are now a genre unto themselves. We never get tired of Destiny’s Child funny videos either, like the one where they are asked which animal they would turn into, if they could (Beyoncé had chosen a whale, for your information, just before she froze Michelle for a joke. thrust).

2. Always innovate

Over the course of her career, Beyoncé has essentially mixed up the cards in many ways. In 2013, she was widely recognized as the ‘drop album’ pioneer when she released her fifth album, Beyoncé, without announcing it. We have all lost our minds. A dissection of her marriage to Jay-Z, this refined and sensual album was also a more open and personal celebration of her sexuality. The record also launched the idea of ​​the ‘visual album’ into the mainstream – every single song was accompanied by a short film.

His approach to music is incredibly layered. Homecoming Beyoncé was renamed by critics of the New Yorkergesamtkunstwerk‘, or a’ total ‘work, which includes music, visual arts, theater, entertainment, dance, etc. As seen at Beychella, Ms. Knowles injected innovation, energy, entertainment and politics into the live performance – each break was a change of story arc, costumes and choreography.

3. Has a devoted fan base

The star has built a loyal fanbase over the years. In 2011, the fanciest fans dubbed themselves ‘BeyHive’ and soon proved to be a force he can count on. It is because of them that getting seats at his concerts is almost impossible: in 2016, the announcement of the tour of Formation collapsed B’s site before selling a million tickets in 48 hours.

That of 2013 The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour it was the biggest hit of all time. The superfan group proved to be really tough, especially when compared to criticism. In 2015, Kid Rock made the unfortunate choice to criticize the star’s music and appearance (stating: “For me Beyoncé doesn’t have a fucking Purple Rain”) And Hive immediately pounced on his social channels, flooding the comment sections with endless bee emoticons. To further haunt the rock singer, fans marked the date and, since then, have made the social bee infestation an annual affair. Critics of the Queen are often warned with a “don’t anger the BeyHives”.

4. Political and social commitment

Bey has shown that she is not afraid to address social and political issues. In February 2016, the star released Formation, a song in which Beyoncé explicitly recognizes and celebrates blackness with lyrics like, “I like my baby hair and my afro hair / I like my black nose with Jackson Five nostrils”. The video for the song, which won a Grammy for Best Music Video, also referred to Hurricane Katrina and the Ferguson protests.

Beyoncé performs the song live at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show the day after the release, accompanied by dancers with afro hair and black panther caps, in clear support for the movement Black Lives Matter. “The cons of the song is to remind us that economic justice is a key component of the liberation process,” civil rights activist DeRay McKesson tweeted after the performance.

5. Unprecedented fame and wealth

In the year 2020, Beyoncé is one of the most recognized artists in the world. And, being one of the highest-paid celebrities on the planet, with a handful of Grammys, million-dollar homes, and a clothing line that bears her name, her worth is estimated at $ 400 million.

Certainly, the singer’s approach to money also earned her criticism: in the lyrics of Formation there are expressions like “the best revenge is what you have”, and in a very critical article on Lemonade activist and author Bell Hooks describes the album as a “pure capitalist money machine”. This has led many anti-racist fans to wonder: How does the star’s wealth affect either political vision?

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6. Philanthropy

Not all of the artist’s money, or that of her husband Jay-Z, who is also a billionaire, remains to fatten up their bank accounts. Queen Bey has often pulled out her wallet in cases of social crises and disasters. He created the Survivor Foundation in 2005 with Destiny’s Child partner Kelly Rowland in response to Hurricane Katrina, and donated $ 6 million to mental health services during the pandemic.

He also created a charity in his name – BeyGOOD – which, among other things, offers college scholarships, clean water for communities abroad, testing and assistance for coronavirus. He also has two scholarships to his name. In recognition of this work, Beyoncé received the BET Humanitarian Award in 2020.

7. Create platforms for black culture and history

A relevant aspect of Beyoncé’s performance at Coachella, which defined her career, immortalized in the making-of documentary Homecoming, is the amount of references to black writers, scholars, musicians and activists. The show returns several times to the theme of historically black universities and the importance of black-led education, and references the work of black feminist writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Audre Lorde and Maya Angelou.

Beyoncé backstage at Coachella, 2018.

© Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment

As for the music, there are pieces by historical black artists, from Sister Nancy to Frankie Beverly, remixed and reworked in the accompaniments. All this seems in line with the artist’s growing commitment to social issues – after all, acknowledging the contribution of black people to culture and history is a political act.

8. Power carries great responsibilities

While she was praised for the way she incorporated blackness into her work, she was also put under careful scrutiny. About the new record Black Is King, some members of the African diaspora have expressed concern that the visual album could potentially offer a misrepresentation of African culture.

Twitter user @kayechukwu described some images from the album as “Wakanda nonsense”, noting that Africa is a very diverse continent made up of 54 countries. “Beyoncé is an extraordinary artist, but there is to point out,” they say. Others have also pointed out that the album will not hit screens on the black continent and that the star is not performing in Africa.

9. An unshakable work ethic

At 38, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter has three children, has been in business for more than two decades and her businesses show no sign of abating. In fact, he is stepping up his work. We mentioned the Beychella in 2018: in 2019 it produced Homecoming, in which she recounts how she began rehearsals just after giving birth to twins. That summer she appeared as Nala in the Disney remake of The Lion King whose soundtrack was released as an album. This year he set new records, including the top-rated remix of Savage, by Megan Thee Stallion and the single released for Juneteenth Black Parade, whose profits were donated to the Black Business Impact Fund of its BeyGOOD entity.

Beyoncé and Tina Knowles-Lawson in Houston, Texas, with BeyGOOD post-Hurricane Harvey relief in 2017.

© Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment

Parallel to the single, Bey posted an online directory of black people-owned businesses that she called the Black Parade Route and on Mother’s Day walked the streets of Houston with her mom Tina Knowles, to help the African community. American to obtain tests for Covid-19. In addition to this, she lobbied the governor of Kentucky to arrest Breonna Taylor’s killers, was honored by BET, and participated with BTS in President Obama’s 2020 graduate student address.

Whether you are a certified member of the BeyHive or do not believe in the divine, Beyoncé’s cultural influence cannot be doubted. She is one of the most important musicians of a generation.

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Beyoncé’s album inspired by the Lion King, Black Is King, was released on July 31, 2020

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