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Beyoncé's Grammy performance represents goddesses of the world

Beyoncé performs at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 12, 2017. Photo by: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Beyoncé performs at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 12, 2017. Photo by: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Beyoncé sang at the Grammy Awards show last Sunday night. She wanted to show that pregnant, working women have a place in society.

Singer Vanessa Williams tweeted that her pregnant belly was not shown when she performed at the Grammys in 1993. Back then, she wore a billowing black dress to hide her belly. "Oh how times have changed," Williams added as she praised Beyoncé.

Beyoncé proudly displayed her pregnancy as she performed. Behind her, pre-recorded images of Beyoncé with her mother, Tina Lawson, and her 5-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, flashed across the stage. Grandmother, mother and daughter were dressed in yellow.

Performance Brought A Deeper Message

The lady lovefest lasted nearly 10 minutes. There was a large, female cast, chairs that tipped back dangerously, Christian images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, golden flashes of the African Yoruba religion, and symbols of other religions.  

The song came from her Grammy-nominated album "Lemonade." The grand golden display was an important part of her music. It was also a part of a deeper message that Beyoncé was teaching.

"Lemonade" and her pregnancy announcement photos represented African, Hindu and Roman goddesses and womanhood.  

When Beyoncé first appeared Sunday night, she was barefoot and dressed in a gold bikini with a long, yellow-gold silk drape behind her. It seemed as if she was in water. Similar photos were in her visual album and announced that she was pregnant. 

She looked like a beautiful African water spirit Mami Wata, or Mother Water, Joseph Caputo wrote in Smithsonian magazine. 

"Those who pay tribute to her know her as a 'capitalist' deity because she can bring good (or bad) fortune in the form of money," he said. Mami Wata was worshiped between the 1400s and 1900s, as Africa became involved with trading around the world.

Water Goddess Of Love And Birth

Beyoncé was also portraying Oshun, a water goddess of love and birth. Oshun is the love goddess of the Yoruba people, who inhabit Nigeria and the southern part of Benin in Africa. She is often seen wearing yellow and surrounded by fresh water.

Oshun reigns over the waters of the Osun Sacred Grove in Nigeria. The United Nations has called this sacred grove an important place in African history.  It can be found in a dense forest near the city of Osogbo.

Worshipers come to the grove to pray. When they ask for a baby, they get a baby. If they ask for money, they get money. 

Beyoncé also appeared as Oshun in "Hold Up," the second song on her album. In that video, she wears a flowing yellow dress and comes through two large golden doors in a wave of water.

A Gold Headpiece Represents Kali

Amy Yeboah, a professor of Africana studies at Howard University, explains that Beyoncé is an orisha who rules the sweet waters of brooks, streams and rivers. She is a spirit and messenger from Olodumare, the Great God that created heaven and Earth.

Paintings show Oshun draped in yellow and wearing a gold headpiece.

The gold headpiece Beyoncé wears in her Grammy performance is draped with a long silk cloth over the crown. It flows away from the singer's body and represents the many-armed Hindu goddess Kali, who is associated with love birth, life and death.

The flowers on stage were also in her photos that announced she was having twins and represent Venus, the Roman goddess of love, beauty and birth. These pictures have filled her personal website, along with lines such as, "Mother has one foot in this world and one foot in the next, mother black Venus," and "Venus has flooded me."

Her Grammy performance was, in many ways, a blend of the African diaspora, the spreading of African history around the world, along with her growing motherhood.

Adele, who won the Record of the Year award, gave a speech and praised Beyoncé and her performance proclaiming, "I adore you, and I want you to be my mommy, all right."

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1
Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the paragraph from the section "Performance Brought A Deeper Message."

When Beyoncé first appeared Sunday night, she was barefoot and dressed in a gold bikini with a long, yellow-gold silk drape behind her. It seemed as if she was in water. Similar photos were in her visual album and announced that she was pregnant.

What is suggested by the repeated references to "yellow" and "gold" here and throughout the article?

A

Beyoncé's ability to earn money from her albums

B

Beyoncé's desire to blend in with her scenery

C

Beyoncé's symbolic connection to goddesses

D

Beyoncé's beautiful voice while performing

2
Anchor 1: What the Text Says

The article suggests that Beyoncé feels a personal connection to the goddesses she represented in her performance.

Which of the following selections from the article is the BEST piece of evidence to support that idea?

A

The song came from her Grammy-nominated album "Lemonade." The grand golden display was an important part of her music. It was also a part of a deeper message that Beyoncé was teaching.

B

Beyoncé also appeared as Oshun in "Hold Up," the second song on her album. In that video, she wears a flowing yellow dress and comes through two large golden doors in a wave of water.

C

Amy Yeboah, a professor of Africana studies at Howard University, explains that Beyoncé is an orisha who rules the sweet waters of brooks, streams and rivers.

D

These pictures have filled her personal website, along with lines such as, "Mother has one foot in this world and one foot in the next, mother black Venus," and "Venus has flooded me."

3
Anchor 4: Word Meaning & Choice

Read the paragraph from the section "Water Goddess Of Love And Birth."

Oshun reigns over the waters of the Osun Sacred Grove in Nigeria. The United Nations has called this sacred grove an important place in African history. It can be found in a dense forest near the city of Osogbo.

Which word from the paragraph helps you understand the importance of Oshun to those who worship her?

A

reigns

B

water

C

sacred

D

dense

4
Anchor 1: What the Text Says

Which section of the article highlights the idea that Beyoncé's bold celebration of her pregnancy made history at the Grammy Awards?

A

Introduction [paragraphs 1-3]

B

"Performance Brought A Deeper Message"

C

"Water Goddess Of Love And Birth"

D

"A Gold Headpiece Represents Kali"

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