The Kobe Bryant memorial is happening right now and Beyoncé opened. Not much is known about the relationship between the Bryants and the Carters but it was evident today during B’s performance that they were close – and that’s not a surprise; Vanessa Bryant, even before Kobe’s passing, wasn’t out there at every party, on every carpet.
In honour of Kobe and Gianna, and her friend Vanessa and their family, Beyoncé dedicated two songs to their memory: “XO” and “Halo”. Those of us who follow Beyoncé and are familiar with her catalogue and the song choices she makes will know that while “Halo” is a popular one, she is sparing with “XO”. “XO” does not show up often on tour or at award shows. I’ve been to every Beyoncé tour since the release of her self-titled album and I’ve never seen “XO” live. But, as she says off the top, this was one of Kobe’s favourite songs. And… well… it’s heartbreakingly fitting.
“We don’t have forever ohhhh
Baby, daylight’s wasting
You better kiss me
Before our time has run out”
Her voice cracked when she sang this part. And I imagine everyone at Staples Centre, and watching the broadcast, would have felt it too. She got emotional towards the end of “Halo” too, knowing always that these two tracks were about cherishing what matters but of course never imagining that she’d be called to be here, on this day, providing comfort to her friend Vanessa in the front row, mourning the loss of her life partner and her child, through these songs. Even Beyoncé, Beyoncé as Beyoncé, felt the weight of this responsibility. And the devastating beauty of being the bearer of this kind of gift. I listen to “XO” whenever I’m on a plane and there’s turbulence. This might be a little dramatic and/or corny. But it’s Jacek’s favourite Beyoncé song and I close my eyes and think about him, and I feel like I can reach him when I’m hearing her sing. Ultimately that should be what art is for, right?
Here it is if you haven’t seen it yet. But maybe don’t watch it if you have to be somewhere and composed any time soon.