Frankie Beverly, frontman for the legendary R&B group Maze, has been a staple in Black American culture for over 40 years. The group’s hit songs like “Happy Feelings,” “Joy and Pain,” and “We Are One” are embedded in the Black experience. I can’t think of one family reunion, wedding reception or summer barbecue where I didn’t hear Frankie Beverly and Maze being played.
Needless to say when Beyoncé dropped her version of Beverly’s classic jam “Before I Let Go” from her new album after the release of her hit Netflix documentary “Homecoming,” it felt like the perfect tribute to an already beautiful moment in Black history.
Frankie Beverly was, both, excited and surprised by her rendition of the group’s 1981 song “Before I Let Go” on her new live album.
“She’s done so much, this is one of the high points of my life. I was blown away. It’s a blessing,” said 72-year-old Beverly, who wrote the song for the band and also sang lead on the original version.
“Other people have done my songs, but the way she did this was in a class of its own. She’s done something that has affected my life,” he concluded.
That’s what’s important. While preserving and cherishing classic soul music by Black artists like Beverly, we have to make way for new artists who remake these songs with a modern twist. It’s not to say that every old school jam should be remade. As a millennial-passing Gen X-er, I’ve been guilty of rolling my eyes when I hear songs from my youth being remade. I’m also hyper-protective of music that reminds me of my parents.
Frankie Beverly praising Beyoncé for her efforts reiterates the connection that younger people need to have to their elders. It’s that bond and appreciation that keeps a classic song like “Before I Let Go” alive forever.