The Surprising Southern Dance Roots of Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’

With each new incarnation, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter bends the world to her will. Since she emerged from Houston onto the national stage as a sixteen-year-old phenom, her work has continually metamorphosed to meet the cultural and sociopolitical moment. In its wake, it has disrupted the trajectory of pop music. As part of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé shifted the sound of Y2K pop with empowerment-themed, futuristic R&B. Her early solo stuff sashayed from funk-forward soul to arena-ready Top 40 bait to eighties-styled synth-pop. With each release, she reoriented the boundaries of commercially viable music. The radicalism of her latest solo albums, Beyoncé and Lemonade, elevated her from pop superstar to generational icon, from chart-topping vocalist to critically lauded auteur. These albums took huge risks—personally and artistically—and established Beyoncé…

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