Beyoncé’s 6 Best Live Performances

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Happy Birthday, Beyoncé (Sept. 4).

We’ve been fans of Queen B since her days in Destiny’s Child, and with each passing year, we grow more “Crazy In Love” with the singer’s vocal range and performance style. While the list of Beyoncé’s most iconic moments and accolades is longer than a CVS paper receipt, we would like to highlight a few of our favorite live performances from the Houston-hailing artist.

So, in honor of Beyoncé’s latest trip around the sun and the release of her seventh studio album, Renaissance, let’s take a look at some of her best live performances.

1. “At Last” at President Obama’s Inaugural Ball in 2009

After Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, Beyoncé serenaded the Obamas at the Inaugural Ball. As the Obamas moved into their first dance together as President and First Lady, Beyoncé sang “At Last” by gospel/blues legend Etta James. Prior to the inaugural ball, Beyoncé portrayed James in the biographical drama film, Cadillac Records, and covered “At Last” for the film soundtrack.

2. “If I Were A Boy” at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards

At the 52nd Grammy Awards, Beyoncé pulled out all the stops without breaking stride. Right off the bat, her entrance into the space and song pulled all attention onto the singer. Singing “If I Were A Boy” surrounded by dancers dressed as riot police, Beyoncé gave a truly powerful performance. And to top it all off, Beyoncé flawlessly segued into a portion of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” during the bridge of “If I Were A Boy.”

3. “Run the World (Girls)” at the Billboard Music Awards in 2011

There is no question as to the caliber of Beyoncé’s vocal abilities. But at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, Beyoncé showed off her ability to execute her vision as a performer. Performing “Run the World (Girls),” Beyoncé nailed the intricate choreography after giving an empowering speech at the start of the song. “Men have been given the chance to rule the world. But ladies, our revolution has begun,” she said in the strong preface.

4. “Love On Top” at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2011

In addition to her music career, Beyoncé’s relationship with Jay-Z has defined what it means to be a “power couple.” In addition to several successful collaborations (just listen to “Crazy In Love” for one example), the couple is parents to three children. To announce her pregnancy with her first child, Blue Ivy, Beyoncé gave one of the most iconic pregnancy announcements we’ve seen to date: She rubbed her baby bump after performing “Love On Top” at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.

5. Freedom at the BET Awards in 2016

In a surprise performance at the BET Awards in 2016, Beyoncé sang “Freedom” from her sixth studio album Lemonade. Her performance was the opening number of the awards show, and it started with an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. After dancing in a pool of water, Kendrick Lamar made a guest appearance—rising from below the stage—to rap his verses on “Freedom.”

6. Coachella 2018

Many believe that the pinnacle of Beyoncé’s career came when she performed at Coachella in 2018. (She was scheduled to perform in 2017, but pushed it back a year after becoming pregnant for the second time.) She was the first Black female to headline the festival, and the process of putting together her Coachella set was documented for a Netflix documentary called Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé. Her performance was so astounding, that it was dubbed “Beychella” and many still point to that weekend as a significant event in the history of Black culture.

Photo Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment

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