Why We Need to Listen to Adele

If you tuned into the 2017 Grammy’s on Sunday night, you saw incredible performances of all genres by a very talented variety of artists. The night was full of emotion; from performances like Adele’s tribute to George Michael to A Tribe Called Quest’s powerful political statement, it’s safe to say that it was a three hour long emotional roller coaster.

In addition to performing, Adele won Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Album of the Year, Best Song of the Year, Best Record of the Year and Best Album of the Year for her comeback album, 25. Though there were many emotional moments throughout the night, it was Adele’s “acceptance” speech for Best Album of the Year that made the biggest emotional impact on me.

Adele spoke about what 25 meant to her, about being a mother, about finding herself through her music over the last five years and about how humbled the awards she’d received made her feel - but she also made it clear that she believed that she was not the one who deserved the award for Best Album of the Year - it was Beyoncé.

It’s not the first time that someone has stood up for Queen B and defended her nomination at an awards show (yes, I’m talking about Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards), but Adele was right when she said that Lemonade was monumental. Earlier in the night, Beyoncé and her team were awarded Best Urban Contemporary Album for Lemonade and Best Music Video for “Formation," and Bey's acceptance speech was beautifully crafted and gracefully delivered - but by the end of the night, Adele, a white English woman who swept five categories, felt that Beyonce did not receive enough recognition where it was due. And I agree.

Beyoncé’s visual album was not only a stunning collaboration of talent (from a diverse lineup of featured artists like Jack White and Kendrick Lamar, to powerful female cameos like Serena Williams and Winnie Harlow), but it was also an empowering message of struggle and soul that comes with Southern culture. Not to mention, it was released at a critical moment in our nation’s history.

Lemonade did not shy away from the issues of police brutality or lifting up women of color in a time where Donald Trump was only running for president.

And even with its unapologetic political tone, Beyoncé did not fail to share a side of herself that we had never seen before with powerful spoken word poetry and personal home video footage.

So, when we hear Adele, a traditionally genuine and outspoken white performer, tell us with tears in her eyes that she cannot accept the award of Best Album of the Year because Lemonade deserves it, we need to listen. What makes art great is its ability to transcend the boundaries of music and to resonate with people. What makes an artist great is their ability to sincerely use their art and talent as an agent of change, and that is what Lemonade and Beyoncé have done.