Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' tour hits Atlanta, singer's charity gives local businesses $10K grants

Beyoncé accepts the award for best dance/electronic music album for "Renaissance" at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

One of the world’s most popular entertainers performed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta this past Friday, Saturday and Monday. Beyoncé sold out every night’s show in a stretch that had many renaming ATL to BEY-TL.

During Friday’s show, the musical icon declared Atlanta as the winner of the “everybody on mute” war, which dominated social media discourse. In what’s now become a staple of the tour during the song “Energy,” once Beyoncé sings the line “everybody on mute,” she and her backup dancers freeze and signal the crowd to go silent by putting a finger over their lips.

On Monday night, the artist also performed “All Up in Your Mind,” “Drunk in Love,” and “Thique” for the first time since the European leg of her world tour.

“Renaissance” features a number of diverse musical elements, from ballroom to Afrobeats to dance/house to bounce. In February, it won a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album, making Beyoncé the first Black woman to win in that category.

Additionally, “Break My Soul” won Best Dance/Electronic Recording, “Plastic Off the Sofa” won Best Traditional R&B Performance, and “Cuff It” won Best R&B Song. Beyonce is now the most Grammy-awarded female artist to date. 

The album credits over 104 songwriters, including big-name artists like Syd tha Kyd, Big Freedia, Drake, Lucky Daye, Tems, LilJuMadeDaBeat, Sabrina Claudio, Leven Kali, Terius “The-Dream” Gesteelde-Diamant, A. G. Cook, Skrillex, Right Said Fred and more.

The music in “Renaissance” is a testament to the beauty and influence of Black queer culture and its growing inclusion in the mainstream, evidenced by shows like “Pose” on FX and “Legendary” on HBO.

It can also be a reminder of the violence and vulnerability Black, queer people often face. On Aug. 4, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, O’Shae Sibley, a Black gay man, was fatally stabbed at a gas station after a confrontation between a group of friends dancing to a Beyoncé song and several young men who taunted them with anti-Black and homophobic slurs.

“Renaissance” was dedicated to Beyoncé’s uncle Johnny, a gay man who, at a young age, exposed the artist to ballroom, house music and other unsung trailblazers of Black queer culture like Kevin JZ Prodigy. In an emotional speech at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards, Beyoncé spoke about how her Uncle Johnny struggled and ultimately died from complications with HIV.

“He lived his truth, and he was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting,” she said.

In connection with the tour’s arrival, some philanthropic events took place as well, including the Black Parade Route Small Business Impact Luncheon. Beyoncé’s charity BeyGOOD launched the $1 million initiative to help businesses and communities impacted by economic inequities. 

In Chicago, BeyGOOD awarded 10 small business owners $10,000 grants. In Atlanta, 12 small business owners were awarded the grant.

One of those winners was The Hardy Clinic, a psychiatric clinic tailored specifically to the mental health needs of Black women. 

“The Hardy Clinic is truly honored for this opportunity. The work that Beyoncé and the BeyGOOD Foundation are doing in our community assists in making major strides towards equity, inclusion and leveling the playing field,” said Nycole Key, master-level social worker at the clinic.

“We know that businesses with marginalized identities are underfunded, and that significantly impacts The Hardy Clinic at the intersection[s] of our race and gender,” she added. “Funding like this helps us to expand access in our community as well as increase internal opportunities for those looking to grow in the mental health profession.” 

The 11 other Atlanta businesses that received the award included:

  • Battery Express
  • Everything Digital Production
  • It’s Baked Baby
  • Jazzy Jaye LLC
  • KidStance LLC
  • Moxie Group
  • QTP LLC DBA Queens Tea Party
  • Restore More
  • Star-Studded Production
  • Visionful Solutions, LLC
  • Youth-N-Action

The Black Parade Route Small Business Impact Luncheon event also featured an inspirational appearance from Tyler Perry and a musical performance from gospel artist Le’andria Johnson.