The scope of politics in the United States is usually perceived as a President, Senate, and Cabinet. It is easy to have that idea, but there are moving parts that also need to be analyzed. The influence of music on Politics is unquestionable. Moreover, there are public figures that use their platform to inflict change. After careful analysis, there is a person in the public eye that has played a presidential role for more than two terms. Beyonce Knowles is America’s silent political figure who is bering about change through her music. No one can deny the unspeakable feelings that music can bring to a situation. It is overwhelming, soothing, and indescribable. The effect music has on the human mind is apparent, and a person that knows how to use music to move people can move mountains. While the political system is in turmoil over our previous election, America has always depended on music to get her through the tough times. Over time, has Beyonce Knowles been a silent political figure that utilizes the message from her music to console a confused America?
The beginning of Beyonce’s political career went public when she performed Etta James’, “At Last” at Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball in 2008. While the first dance is normally one that is shared between the new President and the First Lady for all of America to watch. This dance was symbolically for all of black America to celebrate that at last one chain of oppression was broken. America had elected their first black president. This classic song was a symbolization of chains finally being broken in America. Beyonce’s cover on this timeless piece took on a different connotation than fans were accustomed to experiencing. Weidhise said it best when she wrote, “Beyoncé embodies a narrative, a living description of a culture in which race is a remnant of history and limitless consumer choice has become a substitute for equality”(Weidhise3).
The debut of Beyonce’s “Run the World” could not have come at a more pivotal time. The election was occurring with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the nominees for President. In order to get the unmotivated voters out to the polls, Beyonce strategically released the video featuring Hillary Clinton. Beyonce’s video for “Run the World’ featured Hillary Clinton suiting up for a fight with Beyonce on the sidelines coaching her. This showed America who’s side Beyonce was on, and the line was drawn at that point. Feminists scrutinized Beyonce for claiming to be a feminist, but not representing the full meaning of the word. Although the political influence did not win out for Hillary, the political influence of Beyonce is unquestionable.
Jensen described the influence of Knowles when she wrote, “Yet the most valuable product Beyoncé sells is a particular conception of America – as a nation where history has been, if not banished, rendered insignificant. Her ability to do so is predicated on her ethnic ambiguity: she claims to be ‘universal’, yet slides comfortably into a familiar discourse of exoticism essayed by earlier black female performers”(Jensen5). What is this product that Jensen speaks of, and why is it that America cannot get enough? It is the music. The creativity, and the emotions that people of color and of all racial backgrounds feel when listening. One can never downplay the dramatic role music plays in our life each day, and Beyonce has acknowledged this and took advantage of this mere fact. Although the political battle did not win out for Hillary, the political influence of Beyonce is still unquestionable.
The last political stunt that made all of America see that Beyonce was a powerful force that wanted to inflict change was the release of “Formation”. In a review by author Scrutui, she spoke about the significance of this single.
“Formation” touches on feminism, oppression, sexuality, and police brutality, and her video offers a visual representation for the overall theme of African American cultural ownership. It is, of course, an essential message for contemporary discussion, and the formerly-silenced subject is beginning to achieve prevalence in the music industry, but there is something special and bold about Beyoncé’s take on race: by appealing to Civil War memory and forcing viewers to accept the African American struggle for life, freedom, and success, she is shattering perceptions of one of our country’s most popular areas of historical study. What’s more? She’s a woman.”
The ”Black Lives Matter” movement was a movement on its own, but when Beyonce decided to face the issue in one of her videos, people started to really listen. Beyonce is a National Figure that used her platform to get people who were oblivious to the situation to actually pay attention.
Beyonce Knowles is undeniable a great entertainer and musician, but America as a whole has blatantly ignored how powerful she is as a political figure. While acknowledging the power of music and its influence is something that needs time, the songs featured paint a clear picture of the great individual upon us. She is the bridge that connects African Americans struggle to that of the privileged white man. Although white people may not know the extent of the Black Lives Matter movement or the horror of Hurricane Katrina, Beyonce speaks on the unspeakable. This forces them to wake up and realize that their favorite pop singer is still African American. She hurts when we hurt, and she bleed when we bleed, and that by itself makes her our Queen.
Batcher, Horace Clarence. “Contemporary Music.” The Black Perspective in Music, vol. 7, no. 1, 2010, pp. 5–58. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1214427.
Jensen, Laurraine. Beyonce as a Political Figure. Pelican Publishing, 2016
Scrutui J. “On Conjuring Mahalia: Mahalia Jackson, New Orleans, and the Sanctified Swing.” American Quarterly, vol. 61 no. 3, 2016, pp. 649-669. Project MUSE, muse.jhu.edu/article/317275.
Weidhise William H. “Dr. Watts and Etta James- The Development, Decline, and Survival of a Folk Style in America.” Ethnomusicology, vol. 5, no. 2, 2001 pp. 95–99. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/924323.
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