#Beychella: Beyonce makes history at Coachella 2018
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Every April since social media became prevalent, fans of music either fled to Indio, California to partake in the most significant music event of the year or to Instagram to reap the second-hand rewards. This year, Beyoncé made history by being the first black woman to headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Her performance was an epic battle cry for the black community that captivated the massive audience.
The performance featured references to the historic black culture that accentuated the artist’s accomplishments while commemorating those that have come before her. Beyoncé performed a rendition of the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” written by James and John Weldon Johnson in 1899. The artist sampled the song “Lilac Wine,” by music icon Nina Simone. She featured a quote from a speech by Malcolm X where he says, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.” Thus, emphasizing the importance of solidarity in this culturally historic moment: Beyoncé’s achievements are not just for her, they are for every black woman.
Not to mention, the show was HBCU themed. HBCU stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. These colleges were founded and established post-Civil War through the efforts of black churches with the support of the American Missionary Association and the Freedman’s Bureau. These colleges opened the door to educational freedom that was previously legally denied. This critical pocket of black culture has lifted up prominent African American leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King Jr., and Booker T. Washington.
That’s not all! Beyonce held a Destiny’s Child reunion with former bandmates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. Dressed head to toe in lavish sequined camouflage outfits that memorialized their 90s looks, the stars performed some of their old hits. Their set featured “Say My Name” and “Soldier.” If that isn’t enough sentimentality and nostalgia for you, Beyonce also made this a familial event. Her husband, Jay-Z, and her sister, Solange joined her on stage later in her performance. The sister duo sang and danced to “Get Me Bodied.” Beyonce and Jay-Z performed their classic duet “Déjà Vu,” showing that the two are stronger than ever even after the difficult events that inspired her album, Lemonade.
With dress and decoration including custom Balmain outfits inspired by Egyptian Queen Nefertiti and HBCU Greek letters that nodded at Black Greek life, Beyonce’s vision to recognize the nuanced history of her culture was as dynamic as the culture itself. She challenged her audience to witness her become a pillar of the ongoing narrative rooted in struggle and perseverance. Because of the momentous nature of the artist’s performance, the festival has temporarily assumed the title of “Beychella.”