Yes, I’m a Beyoncé fan. No, I haven’t listened to Renaissance. 

Now, before I get jumped by the hive, let me explain.

While of course I have heard unavoidable snippets in almost every Black space I’ve been in, I have not intentionally sat down to review the album on my own. The short answer to why I haven’t—I’m just not ready. The long answer, however, is a lot more personal and exciting in my opinion. Music is in a very delicate balance right now and each day, I am becoming more intentional on how this specific artform impacts myself and my community.

Since Kansas City was chosen as the last US tour date for the superstar, there’s been quite a buzz going around. It’s created a stir online and amongst the KC community; some newfound publicity for the city that I prefer over what we’ve been seeing with the guest appearances at the last few NFL games. The most important thing is that Kansas City has been a hot topic as of late and instead of playing into divergent conversations about where Kansas City is located, how can our community maximize on the deserving fame that has come along.

For at least 3 months leading up to the much-anticipated concert at Arrowhead Stadium, tons of Beyoncé themed events helped ignite the city for Oct 1st. Something else that I noticed was the blossoming festivities that seemed to evoke a renewed sense of pride in our city. Community block parties, historic art festivals, R&B tribute shows, and many other high interest events continued to rise throughout the metropolitan area. The city felt so together in celebration of the tour date and with a new excitement of uplifting ourselves. I realized that Queen B coming to KC can be much more than just a mesmerizing performance for the city to experience. It was as if she had, for a few hours, shared her spotlight with Kansas City and it was up to us to decide how we would handle it.

The notion further pushed my motivation in finding ways to promote our local musicians. I think back to how I felt watching Beyoncé’s Homecoming performance from my living room years ago. Remembering how I’m still recovering from and appreciating the intricate details she put into it and how it had helped spark the initial idea for this platform. I take note of her production of the Gift album as it helped me work through writing woes as I worked tirelessly to finish and publish my first book. I think many of us can agree that her catalog is timeless. It’ll still be a masterpiece whether I listen to it next month, next year, or even next decade.

My time right now, however, is dedicated to my people here. Kansas City is a city with bubbling talent in every direction. Truth is, we’ve been in a renaissance for at least the last 5 years in my opinion and I want to always look for ways to fan the flame. Throughout the month of October, our selection committee, which consists of Cori Smith, Orilton Shumate, Shari Watson and Spencer Vaught, has reviewed submissions from local bands for a spot in our spring competition. The event, Rhythmic Clash, is a chance for us to show love to our own, for an opportunity to really provide a big enough push that’ll put our local musicians on the level that they deserve. Imagine what success would come to our city if our local artists received even one percent of the praise that Beyoncé does. She may be one of the greatest to ever do it (ever) right now, but we definitely have folks here that are just as hungry for their time to shine. I, for one, won’t be surprised when the next star manifests from our area.

Within the coming weeks, we’ll be announcing the line up for our spring event and encourage you not to hesitate to purchase your tickets early. With everything though, I am proud that Kansas City is on everyone’s tongue, and I plan to keep it that way with the stories I tell and the events I curate. For now, I challenge each of you to search for one local artist and/or band whose music fits your taste and run up their catalog. I’m confident that you’ll find more than you think. Again, I emphasize that I am far from a Beyoncé hater. I’m just more of a local lover at this time and that’s where my eyes and ears are tuned into.

Michelle L. Hill

Creator of the The Black Sunflower.

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