At the tender age of 6, I hadn’t lived enough life to understand the true meaning behind hits like “Say My Name.” My introduction to her greatness was Destiny’s Child. They were not only creating sounds that quickly became the soundtrack to my life but tunes that made me feel happy and affirmed me in a way that other music did not.
It hadn’t occurred to me at the time, but Beyoncé and I were embarking on a long journey together. From stepping into my womanhood with her self-titled album during my junior year in college to picking up the pieces from my first real heartbreak thanks to Lemonade, her music healed me throughout my 20s and as I’ve entered a new decade with 30, it now liberates me.
The Renaissance album hits differently. When it was released last July, I was around the corner from a new chapter—roughly four months shy of my 30th birthday to be exact. Within the first few seconds of the opening selection, I was floored and felt like that girl.
What’s more, I wasn’t alone.
“I feel that Renaissance is just something we’ve never heard before, musically,” says Brittany Frederick, one of three co-hosts on the “Beytime And Unwine” podcast. “I know, personally, when I first listened to the album, it was something so beyond what I could even comprehend at the moment…I really feel like it was like a rebirth.”
Listening to the album became a daily ritual of sorts for me, and to no avail, I joined eager fans awaiting visuals that only Beyoncé can so eloquently deliver. Little did we know they were not coming (ha!).
What did ultimately come was an announcement that the “Drunk In Love” crooner would soon embark on a world tour. Needless to say, I quickly jumped into formation.
The experience that was Renaissance really reaffirmed for me that there is quite literally no other artist cultivating community in the way that Beyoncé does.
In fact, my entire tour experience is proof of it.
I have my friend Damoneke Harper to thank for helping me score tickets with ease. During a Super Bowl party earlier this year, she pulled me aside, disclosing that she had an extra sought-after Beytime code to grab a ticket to the then-newly added date in Atlanta. Soon, I had a single ticket to the August 14 stop at Mercedes Benz Stadium. It would not have been possible for me to predict that attending a show of this magnitude alone would transform my life so dramatically.
Any moments of uncertainty withered away just a few weekends before my anticipated concert date thanks to my friends at “Beytime and Unwine,” who held their inaugural event, which just so happened to also be a one-year celebration of Renaissance.
The night possessed a magic that I had never witnessed at a party before. Friends, family and even strangers (yes, two women flew in from another state off of the strength of this online bond) filled the room and danced for hours, sipping Renaissance-inspired drinks, letting go of our bodies and basking in an infectious joy that only soulful music can provide.
My lifelong friend Ebony Jones and I first bonded over Beyoncé, making up dances to “Lose My Breath.” She now shares the same experience with people across the globe thanks to “Beytime and Unwine.”
“I think the craziest thing is just being able to connect with anybody about Beyoncé,” Jones excitedly explained. “If they love her, it’s an instant connection and we’re here.”
I can attest to that statement because even as I entered the tour alone, days after the Beytime and Unwine event, it wasn’t long before I had a friend for the night. My seatmate, who was a certified Beyhive member, quickly became an instant bestie. I knew we’d be fast friends the moment she rhymed my name (Shanique) with the UNIQUE Beyoncé belts out on her “Alien Superstar” track.
A great friend and the third co-host of the “Beytime and Unwine” podcast pointed out the unmatched glow radiating from Beyoncé throughout the tour. “What I’ve noticed about the RWT in comparison to all of the other tours where you could tell that she was so focused on perfection is that she is sharing so much more of her personality with us, and it’s like a breath of fresh air,” Alex Taylor explained. “It’s almost like she seems happier.”
During the Atlanta show that I attended, Beyoncé confirmed Taylor’s observation.
“I hope you’re feeling relief,” Beyoncé told Atlanta night three crowd ahead of her last song for the night. “I hope you feel joy inside of your heart, and I hope you hold on to that joy. I hope that you take it everywhere that you go.”
My response to that is, “Absolutely.”
It’s been a little over a month since I attended the “Renaissance World Tour,” and the clips from the night still provide me with happiness even when it feels like the weight of the world has fallen on my shoulders. I am beyond grateful to have witnessed such a beautiful celebration of legacy and to have reconnected with my inner child whose world would light up whenever Beyoncé and her girls would come across my airwaves or television screen.