The 2017 Grammy Awards: gospel hymns, Beyonce, Chance the Rapper, the immigration ban, and Oshun.The 2017 Grammy Awards show was filled with religion , going beyond just gospel hymns. Experts like Tripp Hudgins of Graduate Theological Union hold the opinion that the religious impulse was particularly noticeable this year because “it’s reflecting the countercultural”. He is a doctoral student specializing in ethno-musicology and liturgical studies. Hudgins noticed Beyoncé had no hesitation to give the audience a dose of black diaspora history on the stage itself, rather than the superficial pop tradition of thanking Jesus along with other major characters in Christian theology.
Black artists played a major role in injecting religion into the Grammy awards. According to Reverend Broderick Greer of the Grace St. Luke's Episcopal Church and School located in Memphis, Tennessee, the African-American artists conflate the sacred and the secular. He said that this universe is an animated one with plenty of life and spirits. It also has diversity and lots of modes of giftedness as well. In short, the black music universe is an inclusive one.
The first appearance of religiosity during the 2017 edition of the Grammys started with Chance the Rapper. He spoke about God's glory and said he accepts his victory in Lord's name. The rapper won a total of three Grammys, including best rap performance and rap album. He performed “How Great,” which featured the chorus of “How Great Is Our God,” a song by Christian artist Chris Tomlin, and “All We Got,” along with a gospel choir including Tamela Mann and Kirk Franklin.
Chance the Rapper was not alone in invoking religion at the time of his Grammys performance. Politics was deftly mixed with religion by A Tribe Called Quest. They performed “We the People” and were joined onstage by Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak and Consequence. The audience witnessed Busta Rhymes thanking President Donald J. Trump for the unsuccessful Muslim ban. A number of performers, including a woman wearing a hijab, knocked a wall down onstage. The wall was specially built for this performance. Interestingly Islam is the religion of Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Q-Tip, both Tribe members.
The best performance related to religious imagery was undoubtedly that of Beyoncé. The performer evoked a varied iconography of the divine feminine from a number of faith traditions. Her style had two major religious icons: the Virgin Mary and Oshun, a deity of the Yoruba from West Africa. The performer was draped in yellow. Her dress recalled images of Yoruba, a goddess of love and fertility. Her headdress was ornate and there were comparisons to the halo which is found in the depiction of any Black Madonna.
— Betsy L. Cooper (@Betsy_Lee) February 14, 2017