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To Be A Witness to Greatness: Beyoncé

Ebony Turner, Opinion Editor

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Every era had its legend. We all know that Michael Jackson was the greatest artist of all time and our parents’ time. But the disconnect of us not being present for every moment leaves us unable to truly feel that. We weren’t there for his first album, his first music video, and his debut on the Grammy circuit. How could we understand the greatness of the legends before us when we were never there to feel them? We can’t, because to be a witness to greatness means to feel every moment of their career.

Beyoncé is the closest our generation will ever get to witness greatness. Greatness not in the sense of her being free of imperfections but in the sense of seeing an artist that truly loves what they do. With every fiber in her being you see her soul bared on the stage with every performance.

Her voice, and her obsession with perfecting every note reminds me of what my mother said about Luther Vandross. She told me that Luther never had a bad performance. While he may have limited his stage movement to pacing back and forth, he never allowed us to remember anything less than a vocal experience that dominated. She gives her fans nothing less than her best on the stage, which in this era of music is a commodity at best.

She’s involved in every inch of her creative process from the cut room to the stage lighting; she lets no one speak for her. Many artists indulge in the fact that once they reach a certain level of celebrity they can leave the integrity of their artistry in the hands of other people. They leave their identity up for others to decide rather than having creative control over who they are – they become slaves to the music industry. Part of what contributed to the allure of the legends of music’s past is that they effortlessly executed the duties of their artistry. Michael never allowed anyone to have complete and total control over the image he portrayed to the world. From his dance moves to his lyrical styles, he was always evolving yet still remaining true to himself.

It’s more than clear that Beyoncé took a page out of the notebook of the legends she was raised on. She’s disciplined enough to find value in consistency yet humble enough to know she can always get better. But in her recent documentary ‘Life Is But a Dream,’ she made it clear that she has reached a point in her career where she has reached a sense of contentment. Fortunately for her, that contentment has been earned. Outselling her peers in both concerts and albums, Beyoncé has long since solidified her status as a legend.

For me, her legend is not in her statistics as an artist, but her heart – a quality that seems to be missing in the music industry nowadays. She actually cares about the content she puts out and prioritizes quality over quantity. In the early 70’s and 80’s, fans would be lucky to get an album out of their favorite artist every five years much less one. With the current state of music being who can release the music the fastest, even if its in single form, we are all starved of artist’s who value what they are selling. Something she emphasized on her special was her constant battle with staying current but still maintaining a sense of self. She is a rarity, mainly because she has no gimmick. She rests the attraction fans have for her on her talent alone. Even though the demand for music has far outweighed the quality that eventually releases, she still manages to find that balance between staying relevant and giving her fans what they deserve. She fiercely guards her personal life because she is a fan first and realizes how that affects the music.

I often find myself uninterested in the music from artists if I know too much about their personal life, especially if its something I don’t agree with. It’s best to let the music speak for itself, but that can be hard if a person is too accessible. In life it’s best to keep some parts of you just for you. Overexposure is a terrible territory to enter for any individual, especially a celebrity. She states that she is overprotective of her personal life because it truly is none of our business. I would rather be distracted with an artists work ethic and talent than by who they’re dating, and Beyoncé is proof that celebrities have way more control over what they allow to expose than we are led to believe.

Beyoncé’s work ethic is unmatched. She herself has claimed that she practices until her toes bleed. Like a ball player perfecting his jumper or a swimmer perfecting their form, she is that dedicated to her craft. If everyone in the music industry worked as hard as she did, she would have competition. We would have more options, more people to look up to and more inspiration.

She’s the story we’ll tell our kids when we reminisce and lament on how terrible the future’s state of music will inevitably be. I feel blessed to be able to witness her ascendance into musical history. She is our legend.

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