In the United States, the “Beyoncé Mass” celebrates the spirituality of African-American women and makes the faithful aware of inequalities

The singers and musicians animate the “Beyoncé Mass” on the stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington (United States), on March 8, 2020. (GREGORY PHILIPPS / RADIO FRANCE)

It’s a religious service like no other. On the stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, there is an altar with a golden cross, a group, a dozen singers who for an hour and a half will animate this “Beyoncé Mass” to celebrate Christ but also the spirituality of Afro women -American.

The entire liturgy is based on the songs of Queen B: Survivor, Freedom, whose texts scroll during the office on a giant screen. “This Protestant and musical office is a place where black women, and all those who want justice, can come together and imagine, together, what a place of prayer should be”says Sierra, a spectator. “Beyoncé is only 'the vehicle' if you want, of course, she is not a deity!”, she specifies.

It’s a human being who created this music, but music that allows me to get closer to God!

Sierra, a spectator

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It is the pastor Yolanda Norton, 37 years old, who in spring 2018 in her church in San Francisco imagined this mass inspired by the life and work of Beyoncé Knowles Carter, the artist with 100 million records sold through the world. “As a young African American woman, I saw in the life of Beyoncé and in her experiences elements that reminded me of my own reality. She is very authentic. She speaks directly to the hearts of black women”Says Norton.

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At the start of the service, each spectator receives a white stone on which is written the name of a discrimination: homophobia, rejection of transsexual people, grossophobia. Then we throw these stones in a white bucket as if to get rid of these plagues. In the room, many women and a few men, including Sean: “Beyoncé, to me, is to say that it is possible. That women can become what they want, even at a time when not everyone agrees with that. For me , it represents equality, power, and beauty. “

After a few minutes, the audience is standing, as if carried by the music and the lyrics of the songs. “There are many ways to connect with God, says Kirsten, an African American thirties. Beyoncé is both Christian and feminist. So I find it interesting to talk about God and the Bible through his work. Actually, before I came here, I had no idea what it would look like, but it's fantastic! They use extracts from songs that resonate with biblical texts. “

It is a positive, motivating experience, and it is what the Church should be, right?

Kirsten, a spectator

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The message is primarily intended to encourage black women, and young people. And obviously, it finds a particular echo in these times of presidential campaign in the United States: “It's crazysays Kirsten with a smile. At the start of this election campaign, there were six women and six people of color in the race. And now we’re left with two almost 80-year-old white men looking for the Democratic Party nomination. Frankly, I don't know what to say anymore. Maybe people should come see this Beyoncé Mass before they go to vote! “

Since its creation in San Francisco, the “Beyoncé Mass” has traveled to New York, Los Angeles and today Washington. Queen B, for the moment, has never attended this feminist mass that bears her name.


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