In typical fashion, this year’s BET Awards were a mishmash of randomness–not enough awards, too many sub-par performances and, even for a night that was to be dedicated to the late great King of Pop, Michael Jackson, it was barely that. There were so many moments I’d love to dig into, but I set aside this time to cover one and only one thing: Beyonce’s rendition of “Ave Maria.” I think Beyonce is a consummate entertainer. She can put on a show that I believe, in the years to come, will make her as legendary as Michael to this generation. The costumes, the dances, the hair, the preternatural beauty, the energy. I will not take any of those things away from her. But what I will take case with is her inability to determine what is appropriate and respectful in a moment when the world is mourning the loss of one of the biggest pop stars of our time.
Beyonce’s part in the BET Awards tribute to Michael Jackson was to do her cover of “Ave Maria,” the revered hymn in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church that calls for the intercession of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Given the hymn’s profound implications, you think that she would surrender herself and all that she knows, particularly her alter ego Sasha Fierce, and give the moment the utmost respect and reverence.
Such was not the case when Ms. Knowles hit the stage to perform. Decked out in a high-cut, strapless, bedazzled bustier paired with a floor-skimming jacket,
Sasha Fierce Beyonce belted out the classic hymn. Problem with that is, “Ave Maria” is not meant to be sung just because you know how to sing–no Jamie Foxx, she can’t sing it just because she is that talented. “Ave Maria” is a song to be ministered because you understand the power of intercession and because you understand the sacred nature of Mary and her birth of a child who changed the course of millions.
I’ve long said that Beyonce can sing, but that’s where it stops. She knows how to take what people–or she–has written and perform it, but more often than not, it’s not from the depth of her being that she performs. This was a moment when we all could have benefitted from seeing a Beyonce less put-together and more in tune with her spirit and the grieving spirits of those all around the world. Unfortunately, all I saw was Beyonce doing what she does best–showcasing her talent, her body, and her beauty to the detriment of her spirit.
Maybe I’m taking this all too seriously. If I am, I want to hear the detractors and supporters of my view.
What did you think of Beyonce’s performance of “Ave Maria”?