PHOTO ABOVE: This photo combination shows from left to right Mickey Guyton, Beyonce Knowles and HER, whose songs about The Black Experience were all Grammy nominated on Tuesday. (AP Photo)
By Mesfin Fekadu
NEW YORK – As police brutality continues to devastate black families and the coronavirus disproportionately ravages black America, the world is being driven more than ever by the significance of June 17 of this year.
And Beyoncé knew she wanted to release a song on that momentous day – so she dropped “Black Parade,” an anthem song where she proudly sings about her heritage, her hometown, and her return to her African roots.
Months later, the song – and others focused on protests, police brutality, and the overall black experience – took center stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards.
Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” was nominated for two of the top awards: Song of the Year and Record of the Year. The track will also compete for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance.
“There could have been a different approach to releasing the record and capitalizing on the timing of other things, but we really wanted to release it at a time when we could all remember the feeling and the energy.” Derek Dixie, a longtime Beyoncé collaborator who co-wrote the song with the pop star, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“It’s not always about the money and catching streaming numbers and things like that. Sometimes that’s about what it is – what makes our people proud.
“Black Parade” helped Beyoncé land nine nominations, making her the top Grammy nominee. Dixie won three Grammy Award nominations for co-writing and co-producing the song.
For song of the year, “Black Parade” will compete with “I Can’t Breathe” by HER, the R&B singer’s track on police brutality.
Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song he created following the murder of George Floyd, won nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. The song’s proceeds will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s lawyer, the Bail Project and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Anderson .Paak also released a song on June 19 – the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free – and she’s competing for two awards. “Lockdown” is nominated for Best Rap Performance and Best Music Video.
Country singer Mickey Guyton wrote the track “Black Like Me” a year ago, but released it this year because she found it extremely relevant. Now he’s nominated for Best Country Solo Performance, giving the artist his very first Grammy nomination.
“It’s been so tough in the country music community and trying to get country music to even support my music and for me to get a Grammy (nomination) it just shows that writing your truth is the way to be continued, ”Guyton told the AP on Tuesday. “And not just by writing your truth, but by truly bringing your brothers and sisters with you.
But Guyton admits that everyone’s response to his song was not warm. It contains the lyrics: “If you think we live in the land of the free / You should try to be Black like me.”
“I posted it and met some very angry people. There were even radio stations where people were like, ‘Take that (expletive) off my radio station,’ ”she said. “I would ask people to write me messages like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it here, go. And I’m like, ‘Well, this is just as much my country as it is yours.’ “
Guyton added that “some radio stations were afraid to play (‘Black Like Me’) because they (angry) their listeners because their listeners didn’t want to hear it.
“But I wasn’t writing this song for them, I was writing this song for people to understand exactly this walk that I’m walking,” she continued. “It’s for them.”
Besides “Black Parade,” Beyoncé also won nominations for her film honoring black art and black history, “Black Is King,” as well as her ode to dark-skinned and brunette women, “Brown Skin Girl. “.
Dixie, who worked as Beyoncé’s musical director and produced, designed and arranged songs for the singer, said he was grateful to work with an artist who speaks boldly of Black pride in his music.
“It’s just good to see that she’s ready to put in that kind of energy and not necessarily be thinking, ‘What’s going to guarantee me a No.1? What will guarantee this to me? It’s part of our conversation, it’s part of the process, but when there’s a need to put that art out there, put that energy out there, she’s usually… leading the pack in that regard, ”Dixie said. . “So I am grateful to be associated with her on this path.”
Guyton added that it is heartwarming to see many black musicians reflect the current times in their music, and she is grateful to the Grammys for recognizing these kinds of songs.
“It’s so important because so often black people, and black women in particular, are overlooked and constantly overlooked and you are constantly trying to get people to remember you there,” she says. “We feel like we are being seen and I don’t think we have always felt seen.”
“I use this scenario to go to any grocery store – if you go to any grocery store… and you are looking for hair products for someone who is ethnic and… you see an entire aisle filled with all the hair products that you can think of someone who is not black. But whenever it comes to finding hair products for a black person, we are referred to as a shelf. And today, you don’t feel like you’re being referred to as a shelf.
The 2021 Grammy Awards will air live on January 31.