Way back in my sophomore year of high school, we had an assembly. A girl singing group would be giving a daytime concert in the theater, and we’d be getting out of third period. I was probably more excited about the latter.
I’d never heard of Destiny’s Child, though it was clear from the fan reaction in the front rows that other students had. This was in the days before MySpace and after mall tours for artists wanting to be discovered. Destiny’s Child was carving a new venue option by performing unpaid in high schools.
The four beautiful young black women sang three sings, including their soon-to-be breakout hit No, No, No. Their outfits were coordinated but not matching, envoking the styles of En Vogue and TLC. Their choreography was safe but precise, absent of twerking in that time and place.
But Beyonce shone. She stood out. Her voice rose and carried and pulled us all in, like a magic invocation. When it came time for questions, the first student requested a hug from Bey, which she gave. When the next few students made the same request, the principal had to forbid it. I can’t really explain why her charisma was so obvious, what about her made her the one you wanted to watch. But it was there.
On a high school stage, without a troupe of backup dancers or pyrotechnics, in hair and clothes done by her mom, Beyonce was a star waiting to happen, and I suspect everyone in that theater could feel it.
Love her styles or hate them, don’t deny she is talented. Her charisma is a force to be reckoned with and I experienced it as a nearly physical presence from 30 yards. I think 99% of the people complaining about her are threatened by her power as a black woman. But she has worked for it all.
I am always here for Bey.