Beyoncé’s Coachella List Includes ‘Lift Every Voice And Sing,’ and an Ode to HBCUs



Original article by Adrienne Gibbs at

Beyoncé was not only the first black woman to open Coachella, she also historically kicked off the festival by singing  ‘Lift Every Voice And Sing,’ ( composed by Clark Atlanta alum James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnsonwhich is a poem set to music that is also known as the black national anthem. And that was amid a two and a half hour ode to HBCUs, HBCU halftime shows, marching bands, historically black fraternities and sororities, a Destiny’s Child reunion, and then a dance-off with sister Solange, a Jay-Z special appearance and a clear artistic history lesson on the ties between modern urban dance and classic jazz dance.

In short, Beyoncé’s two and half hour Coachella performance, known by many as #Beychella (and shouted out by DJ Khalid as Beychella midperformance), was not just entertainment; it was a show steeped in celebration of American culture. The set list included a plethora of hits including  “Crazy in Love,” “Formation,” “Sorry,” “Bow Down,” “Drunk In Love,” “Diva,” “Flawless,” “Déjà Vu” with JAY-Z, “Run The World (Girls),”  “Lose My Breath” with Destiny’s Child, “Say My Name” with Destiny’s Child, “Soldier” with Destiny’s Child and “Love on Top.”

“Thank you Coachella for allowing me to be the first black woman to headline,’ Beyoncé said of the 19th annual music festival before adding, “Ain’t that ‘bout a b—tch?”

The reason why everyone is talking about this performance is because either they don’t understand it, but appreciate the beauty of the black and gold and the pyramid backdrop. Or they do understand it and totally understand the use of black and gold and the pyramid backdrop. [Note to some, look up Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, also the frat of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, to get an idea of the possible message behind some of the visuals and colors.] Additionally, social media users have been having a field day trying to interpret Beyoncé’s Greek lettered yellow hoodie. It sported the Greek letters for beta, delta and kappa. For some that might mean BAK, which some speculated was the name of her next album. But for others, it seems to mean B for Beyoncé followed by the pyramid, or delta, which references the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. Meanwhile, the K could stand for Knowles.  The outfit could also simply be another nod to some of the gear worn by students at HBCUs or worn by people who are members of black Greek letter societies


Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White is Director of Digital Strategy for the Tom Joyner Foundation, a writer and editor.

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