Beyoncé has never been one to stick to tradition or to announce when she's about to drop something, so it's really no surprise that she just released a 40-track live album called Homecoming in conjunction with her new Netflix documentary.
Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com
The album, which dropped at 10 AM on Wednesday morning, is a collection of the singer's greatest hits, ranging from "Single Ladies" to Destiny's Child's "Say My Name." It also includes rarities such as two covers of the hymn often called the Black national anthem—"Lift Every Voice and Sing"—first sung a cappella by an emotional Beyoncé as a lead-in to "Formation," and later by Bey and Jay-Z's daughter, Blue Ivy.
Blue, who recorded the track in the audience at one of her mom's rehearsals, has obviously inherited some of her parents' love of the spotlight; at the end of the song she exclaims, "I wanna do that again because it feels good!"
Lift Every Voice and Sing (Blue's Version - Homecoming Live) www.youtube.com
B7 also features Jay-Z and J Balvin and concludes with a new studio track—a cover of the song "Before I Let Go" by Frankie Beverly and Maze, originally released in 1981 and first covered by Destiny's Child in 1997.
As if the album alone wasn't enough of a gift, it's available on all streaming platforms. On it, you can hear Beyoncé's vocals—silky and flawless as ever—layered over complicated new brass-heavy arrangements and the distant screams of the infatuated crowd. Supercharged with electric energy, it's a straight shot of the empowerment and magnetism that has gained Beyoncé her well-deserved status as an inimitable icon of our times.
June's Diary performs "Lift Every Voice and Sing" live at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore www.youtube.com
The album comes as a surprise companion piece to Beyoncé's Netflix documentary, which debuted last night at Howard University and Houston's Southern Texas University—appropriate venues, as her Coachella performance featured a massive marching band and sets inspired by the aesthetics of historically black colleges. It follows her 2018 performance from conceptualization to fruition and features interviews and intimate behind-the-scenes footage.
Image via Society19
The critically lauded set marked the first time in the festival's 11-year history that an African American woman headlined it, and 2018 will forever be marked in history as the year of Beychella. But then again, every year is Bey's year—she's been steadily creating extraordinary multimedia works of art for the past decade, with each event—from the Super Bowl to Lemonade—further fortifying her legacy as music's eternal queen, one surprise release at a time.
Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.
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