Beyoncé Killed It! How Coachella Became ‘Beychella’

Written by Ann Brown


To say Beyoncé killed it at Coachella is an understatement. The first Black woman to headline the 18-year-old music festival, Beyoncé’s performances had DJ Khaled renaming it Beychella.

Beyoncé was supposed make history last year at Coachella, but rescheduled  after becoming pregnant. And it was worth the wait. “According to TMZ, Beyoncé hired up to 100 new dancers one week before her Coachella debut. Reports also said she’d rehearsed 11 hours a day and required dancers and crew to sign non-disclosure agreements,” Rolling Stone reported.

She started the show by saying: “Thank you for letting me be the first Black woman to headline Coachella. Ain’t that ’bout a bitch?”

The reviews are only but glowing. And of course, being Beyoncé she didn’t just perform–she sent a message, paid homage, and schooled people about who she is and where she comes from.

“It was rich with history, potently political and visually grand. By turns uproarious, rowdy, and lush. A gobsmacking marvel of choreography and musical direction,” The New York Times wrote.

Beyoncé took over Coachella’s main stage, on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club here, arriving to trumpets, trombones, saxophones in the tradition of historically black college football halftime shows.

“Big-tent festivals, generally speaking, are blithe spaces — they don’t invite much scrutiny, because they can’t stand up to it. But Beyoncé’s simple recitation of fact was searing, especially on the same night that, in Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame finally inducted Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 15 and 45 years after their deaths, and also Bon Jovi, a band in which everyone is very much alive,” added the Times. “She was arguing not in defense of herself, but of her forebears. And her performance was as much ancestral tribute and cultural continuum — an uplifting of black womanhood — as contemporary concert. She sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the black national anthem, incorporated vocal snippets of Malcolm X and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and nodded at Ms. Simone’s ‘Lilac Wine.’”

The nearly two-hour, 26-song show had only a few breaks, and it was full of highlights including her performance of “Déjà Vu” with her husband, Jay Z, and then the Destiny’s Child reunion. She also teamed up with her sister, Solange, on “Get Me Bodied.”

Rolling Stone called the set and costume design “Flawless.”

The Times concluded, Like no other musician of her generation apart from Kanye West, Beyoncé is performing musicology in real time. It is bigger than any tribute she might receive. History is her stage.”

And as always there is more behind the spectacular. “Thus begins a show that is somehow not just about Beyoncé. She makes it about far more than her or her career: it’s about Black excellence, female power and the unrelenting possibility of self-belief. She has only a handful of white dancers among a reported 100. Her set is in thrall to soul, jazz, gospel, dance, melody and music itself. With her second song, Freedom, she creates a literal movement with her orchestra in motion; it feels like a march for purpose,” The Guardian reported.


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About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence,, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.