“HOME­COM­ING” TAKES BEY­ONCE FANS BE­HIND THE SCENES

The Tribune (SLO) - - Ticket - BY MES­FIN FEKADU

Bey­once is ex­tremely pri­vate, and only lets you know what she wants you to know, when she wants you to know it – typ­i­cally, in a sur­prise post on her web­site or In­sta­gram.

But through­out the years, she’s slightly cracked open her door to re­veal parts of her life and per­son­al­ity – apart from what she gives through strong singing and ex­traor­di­nary dance moves – to help re­mind us that though she is epic and flaw­less, she is still mor­tal.

“Home­com­ing: A Film by Bey­once,” which pre­miered April 17 on Netflix, cap­tures the hu­man side of the superstar singer with be­hind-the-scenes, in­ti­mate mo­ments of a mother, wife and artist tire­lessly work­ing on what’s al­ready be­come one of most iconic mu­si­cal per­for­mances of all-time: Bey­once’s head­lin­ing show at the 2018 Coachella Val­ley Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val in California.

Bey­once’s performance marked the first time a black woman head­lined the famed fes­ti­val and made Bey­once just the third woman to score the gig, be­hind Bjork and Lady Gaga. Bey­once took on the role se­ri­ously – as she does all live per­for­mances – giv­ing the au­di­ence a rous­ing, ter­rific and new show high­lighted by a full march­ing band, ma­jorette dancers, step­pers and more that is the norm at his­tor­i­cally black col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties (HBCUs).

The film takes it a step fur­ther to show­case what was hap­pen­ing to get to the his­toric mo­ment: you see a mother bounc­ing back from giv­ing birth to twins via an emer­gency C-sec­tion; an African Amer­i­can woman em­brac­ing her family’s his­tory and pay­ing trib­ute to black col­lege cul­ture and hon­or­ing black art; and the world’s No. 1 pop star de­fy­ing the odds yet again and push­ing her­self to new heights, cre­at­ing an even wider space between her­self and who­ever is No. 2.

Sim­ply put, Bey­once changed Coachella – for­ever – and per­form­ing after her is like try­ing to out-ace Serena Wil­liams or dunk bet­ter than Michael Jordan: You won’t win.

Wo­ven into the film are au­dio sound­bites from pop­u­lar fig­ures to help nar­rate the story: Nina Simone speaks about black­ness, Maya An­gelou talks about truth, and Tessa Thomp­son and Danai Gurira ex­plain the im­por­tance of seeing peo­ple who look like you on large screens.

Bey­once speaks, too, say­ing that she dreamed of at­tend­ing an HBCU, though she ex­plains: “My col­lege was Des­tiny’s Child.”

She also says the im­por­tance of her Coachella performance was to bring “our cul­ture to Coachella” and high­light “every­one that had never seen them­selves represented.”

So many peo­ple were represented dur­ing those per­for­mances last April – her stage was packed with about 200 per­form­ers, from dancers to singers to band and orches­tra play­ers. Bey­once kicked of the performance dressed like an African queen, walk­ing up the stage as the jazzy, soul­ful big band sound of New Or­leans is played. After letting her dancers and back­ing band shine, she emerges again, this time dressed down – like a stu­dious, ea­ger, hope­ful col­lege stu­dent.

The mu­si­cal di­rec­tion and song se­lec­tion flows ef­fort­lessly and was pur­posely crafted to tell a story: the first song is 2003’s “Crazy In Love,” a mas­sively suc­cess­ful No. 1 hit and her first apart from Des­tiny’s Child. It also was Bey­once’s first of many col­lab­o­ra­tions with Jay-Z. But then comes “Free­dom,” rep­re­sent­ing the Bey­once of to­day, un­con­cerned with having a ra­dio or stream­ing hit, but more fo­cused on the art, and the mes­sage.

And her mes­sage was loud and clear on “Home­com­ing”: Her performance is a homage to the cul­tur­ally rich home­com­ing events held an­nu­ally at HBCUs, but also show­cases Bey­once’s own home­com­ing – her re­turn to her roots, and how she’s found a new voice by rein­ter­pret­ing her mu­sic through the lens of black his­tory.

COUR­TESY OF PARKWOOD EN­TER­TAIN­MENT Netflix

Netflix has be­gun stream­ing “Home­com­ing: A Film by Bey­once.” The doc­u­men­tary cap­tures the be­hind-the-scenes mo­ments of a mother, wife and artist work­ing at the 2018 Coachella Val­ley Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val in California.

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