Editor’s Note: “Spider Sounds” invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection. The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question, or to additional relevant information.
Today’s installment of “Spider Sounds” comes courtesy of Boatwright Library Faculty Member Irina Rogova, who is the project archivist for UR’s Race and Racism project. She has chosen to highlight Beyoncé’s latest album, Lemonade which was released earlier this year. Thanks, Irina!
On April 23, 2016, Beyoncé released her sixth studio album, Lemonade, to mass critical acclaim. Leading up to the release, promotional materials alluded to some sort of release on HBO, though no details were given about what was actually being released—album, documentary, live show?
Considering the precedent set by her 2013 release of Beyoncé, which was dropped with accompanying music videos for all tracks with no promotion, fans speculation hit an all-time high leading up to the release. The Lemonade premiere on HBO was accompanied by a visual album which interspersed songs from the record with prose and poetry by London-based Somali poet Warsan Shire, and featured a wide cast including Serena Williams, Amandla Stenberg, Quvenzhané Wallis, along with the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, all victims of racial profiling and extra-judicial killing at the hands of law enforcement officials and vigilante citizens. The album and its visual component weave a story which has been described as “every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing.”
Immediately following the release of Lemonade, fans and academics took to Twitter to contribute to a syllabus which would give context to the plethora of references and symbols used in the visual album. Connections ranged from black southern gothic traditions to visual references to Yoruba deity Oshun to audio of Malcolm X. The syllabus was eventually compiled and made available for download by Candice Benbow, who launched the campaign.
Download it here: https://issuu.com/candicebenbow/docs/lemonade_syllabus_2016.
The syllabus, made through collaborative efforts from over 70 black women, focuses heavily on work created by and about the experience of black women in the United States and beyond.
The syllabus was only one of the various intellectual endeavors inspired by Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Melissa Harris-Perry, bell hooks, dream hampton, Ijeoma Oluo, and countless other theorists, activists, and cultural critics have written on the album’s meaning and impact.
Find a collection of some of these pieces here: http://www.threemonkeysonline.com/beyonces-lemonade-ten-articles-on-queen-bey-that-are-actually-worth-reading .