The legendary-in-her-own-time Beyoncé, femme extraordinaire, celebrity to the celebrities, star to the stars, is the culmination of fifty-some years of pop and R&B history. She is all the best of history’s pop and soul acts rolled into one, seemingly having absorbed all the best of them within the few years between her birth on September 4th, 1981 and the time she scored her first girl group hits in the mid- to late 1990s.
Not only has she absorbed all the best of the best, she has distilled it into something that appears bigger and better than most of what we’ve seen in global-scale crossover entertainment since the dawning of Elvis Presley’s impressive and wildly successful take on African American music in the 1950s.
Beyoncé’s got the gloss and glamour of a Diana Ross, having her own Supremes in Destiny’s Child – laced with the sexy afro-futurism of funk-rock girl group Labelle. She innovates musical styles and lyrical content like the Beatles or Bob Dylan did, writing trendsetting songs that change entire genres of music for good.
She’s got the raw ‘n’ roll of a Tina Turner whipping herself, her Ikettes, and her audiences into a frenzy with sweaty song-and-dance; she’s got the sex ‘n’ glitter of a Donna Summer in her disco heyday; the funkin’ down-to-earth R&B of a Chaka Khan; the innovative eclecticism of a Prince; the corn-fed country soulfulness of an Etta James; the inspirational gospel ‘n’ jazz of Aretha; the no-prisoners-taken ambition of Madonna.
She has taken the showmanship, the infectious megalomania and savvy (video) imagery of the Jackson family of entertainers to a new level, coupling those assets with the youthful enthusiasm and global sing-along appeal of even light pop acts like, say, ABBA, the Pointer Sisters, and the Spice Girls.
Rather than eliciting much envy, Beyoncé’s fame and success seem to motivate. She uses her music, voice, status, and celebrity to uplift and inspire. With an extremely rare combination of cutthroat self-assuredness, boundless talent, unapologetic femininity and strength, and endearing humility and sensitivity, she takes her audiences ‘to church,’ makes them get in touch with their spirits, makes them embrace and celebrate who and what they are.
Although I do not tend to uncritically view anyone, not even Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, as some sort of messiah, it cannot be denied that she touches people where they live – in the here and now; in a post-modern, eclectic world full of possibilities, opportunities, and inclusiveness, but also of insanity, betrayal, loneliness, changes and fears, ultimately delivering comfort, encouragement, irresistible beauty, and realistic hope for more and better – not only for one’s self, but for the world and all its people.
The ever-changing colours and multi-layered sweetness of Queen B’s lemonade lure us like bees to her hive, but it’s the strangely soothing bitterness of recognition of our own complex souls that keeps us drinking it. Beyoncé is irresistible and shall forever remain one of the, if not the, biggest and brightest of stars the world will ever see.
Eh, yeah, I’m a fan. Can you tell? Lol
Happy birthday, Beyoncé.
Tasio Ferrand © September 4, 2019