Words by Apryl Fuentes and photos by Azha Luckman of Shade Zine
Everything was illuminated under the light of the cold moon on this special night in Oakland. We stood outside Starline Social Club in a giant disarray of confusion and pure anticipation for what was ahead. Our theme for the evening was Equality, one of the five pillars of GOODfest 2016.
GOODfest is a benefit being held in five major cities, supporting five causes through five intimate performances. Tickets were limited and sold out instantaneously, with only fifty being released in exclusive intervals. A lucky handful of us experienced a night with Solange in support of Ella Baker Center and Son of A Saint.
To start the night, Oakland’s very own Fantastic Negrito emanated empowerment with a fiery blues performance, commanding our attention with every howl. Cellist Kelsey Lu caressed the crowd with her mesmerizing croons, singing her vulnerabilities as a black woman here and now. The two talents, juxtaposed with each other, heightened an air of anticipation the crowd had for the arrival of our honorable headliner: Solange.
Intertwined with the performance beneficiaries Son of A Saint, a New Orleans organization dedicated to empowering fatherless youth through mentorships, and Oakland’s Ella Baker Center, a community space committed to ending mass incarceration and our faulty prison system, took the stage for a live stream that reached viewers nationwide through GOODfest’s website. It was these moments that carried us into the pinnacle of the night and reminded us why we were all there.
Soft red light encompassed the Starline stage in a mystic glow, as one by one, the members of Solange’s entourage arrived, dressed head to toe like earth angels in all white. Instrumental vibrations, doused in the blanket of redness, led Solange on stage as she sung the first words: “Fall in your ways / So you can crumble / Fall in your ways / So you can sleep at night / Fall in your ways / So you can wake up and rise…” And rise we did, as the crowd ascended with every word and fluid movement while she sang “Weary” with her most delicate sincerity. “Cranes in the Sky” turned the room blue, a soft light that gently lined the curves of each dance and movement. A sea of lights painted the crowd as people photographed, filmed, and Facetimed all of what seemed to good to be true. We were at the gates of heaven looking into the soft blue face of a goddess. We even made eye contact throughout the night, which sent some of us through a thrill of excitement, “because she saw us standing right there with her.” Solange was with us and not only among us.
Ending the trio, “Don’t Touch My Hair” unfolded in softer pink light, for all the beautiful black women in the crowd with whom Solange sang about vulnerability, anger, self-love, and empowerment. The trio of songs we were promised was a gift, preceding what is to be an upcoming tour of shows.
“This is such a beautiful room. I can not wait to work on my show and come back and see all of you guys.” We can barely wait either, and hopefully there can be more of us there with you next time.