Fifty-five minutes in to Sunday night’s Grammys, it happened. It all happened.
Beyonce brought down the house, with an emotional and captivating and full o’ twins in her belly performance of “Love Drought.”
And the internet lost its damn mind.
Blossoming belly on display, Beyonce owned the f**k out of the Grammys stage with a nearly ten-minute masterclass in how to put on a live musical drama… while carrying twins. TWINS, people! The woman is pregnant with twins!
Of course, it’s not the first awards show Beyonce’s put her burgeoning baby bump on full display for the world to enjoy: Back in August 2011 (a date now officially categorized as 5 months B.B.B. — Before Baby Blue) that Beyonce pulled her first awards show baby blitz, with her at-the-time-top-secret MTV VMA reveal.
But that was also pre-“Lemonade” — the performance tonight is part of a larger project, presenting a vision of black experience, motherhood and womanhood that goes way beyond pregnant performance gimmicks or a simple “greatest hits” showpiece: Like the video performance that started it all, this medley from the album — for which she almost immediately went on to win Best Urban Contemporary — was a powerful meditation:
Like the man she sings about and to in “Lemonade,” it is a brutally honest love letter to America and its complex history, in which the poetry of Warsan Shire and Beyonce’s own songwriting combine with visuals referencing American traditions hundreds of years old — and a legacy of spirituality and community many centuries older than that — to create a living narrative: Diagnosing, grieving and most importantly describing and prescribing a path toward cultural healing and reconciliation that are as much about strength and sacrifice as they are about recognizing and retrieving love of self and one’s people.
Being mistreated, whether that’s by a lover or by the world of men or by the cops or your country — being party to any trauma, to any painful history of conflict and abuse — can go one of two ways: We fold in upon ourselves, get sicker, forget who we’re looking at when we look in the mirror, and lose what makes us human and connects us to the greater world… Or we find strength, forgiveness and beauty within ourselves, and determine to share it with the world, no matter what.
What Beyonce shares with the rest of us, with this work, is nothing less than a recipe for ritual, for sacredness, that spans far beyond simple grudges and hate and looks at things as they are, and have always been. We can get ourselves stuck in the sourness, or demand only sugary-sweet blindness — but lemonade, and “Lemonade,” demand nothing less than both. And to hear her once again evoke Shire’s most powerful words from the album, after weaving her spell in front of us all, was a legitimately transcendent experience that blew up Twitter and caused tears the world over. That’s because it was doing something: Unlocking, verifying and validating, and ultimately soothing.
It is going to be okay, she said, and we heard her. Listen:
Baptize me… Now that reconciliation is possible.
If we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious.
1,000 girls raise their arms.
Do you remember being born?
Are you thankful for the hips that cracked?
The deep velvet of your mother — and her mother, and her mother?
There is a curse that will be broken.