Beyonce wanted to take part in the Selma tribute at the Grammy Awards on Sunday to honor her family’s ties to the U.S. civil rights movement and all of those who have suffered a race-related loss.
The singer approached Selma theme song artists John Legend and Common and asked if she could introduce their performance of “Glory” by belting out another tune from the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic, gospel track “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”
She teamed up with an all-male choir for the powerful rendition, and reveals she was inspired to channel the pain of others for the show to demonstrate that black lives matter, particularly as race issues continue to dominate headlines in America following the police killings of African-Americans Michael Brown and Eric Garner last year.
In a black-and-white behind-the-scenes video, titled Take My Hand, Precious Lord: The Voices, Beyonce explains each choir member had overcome a form of personal struggle, saying, “I wanted to find real men that have lived, have struggled, cried, and have a life and a spirit about them. I felt like this is an opportunity to show the strength and vulnerability in black men.”
Beyonce also revealed her own family’s participation in the civil rights fight, adding, “My grandparents marched with Dr. King, and my father (Mathew Knowles) was part of the first generation of black men that attended an all-white school. My father has grown up with a lot of trauma from those experiences.
“I feel like now I can sing for his pain. I can sing for my grandparents’ pain. I can sing for some of the families who have lost their sons.”
The singer’s performance also featured the choir members briefly raising their hands in the same gesture used by police protesters, which has come to be known as ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot’.
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