Beyoncé's return to Atlanta represents a ‘rebirth’ for ‘Renaissance’ fans

Ahead of the superstar’s 3-day takeover in Atlanta, fans and collaborators reflect on her return to the stage.

Roughly a year ago, Beyoncé dropped her highly-anticipated seventh solo studio album “Renaissance.” Pivoting to a completely different sound, the 16-track album weaves through subgenres of dance music (house, afrobeats, techno, disco) as if she was tasked to offer the ultimate playlist for an epic dance party.

But the album is more than that. It celebrates the importance of community while uplifting LGBTQ+ ballroom culture. Since its release and the start of the Renaissance World Tour, the album has become a culture of its own. A fan-fueled culture that’s filled with love, a reawakening, and, of course, dancing galore.

“‘Renaissance’ itself is about renewal or revival, so for her to be coming on stage after all these years on the ‘Renaissance’ tour with a ‘Renaissance’ album that gave us this renewed sense of hope amid all this chaos that has been going on, it’s iconic,” said Ayeshia Douglas, a Memphis resident who will attend the Saturday night show. “It’s a rebirth.”

Beyoncé will make her Atlanta stop of the tour at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Monday. It’s her first concert in the city since 2018′s “On the Run II” tour, which was also held at the stadium.

The Carters arrive on stage in Atlanta on Aug. 25, 2018. Courtesy of Raven Varona/Parkwood PictureGroup

Credit: Photo by Raven Varona/Parkwood/PictureGroup

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Credit: Photo by Raven Varona/Parkwood/PictureGroup

Douglas chose the Atlanta show because she enjoys seeing Beyoncé in bigger cities. She previously attended the singer’s last two tours. She’s most excited to see Beyoncé's daughter, Blue, perform. Douglas plans to make a trip out of the weekend to visit friends.

“No matter how bad it gets or whatever happens (in my life), I’m going to see Beyoncé in August and that has kept me motivated.”

For Douglas, constantly listening to “Renaissance” has given her an extra dose of confidence on days when she’s not feeling as self-assured. She remembers instantly liking the album’s sound and direction upon its release. Her favorite songs are “America Has a Problem” and “Heated.”

“I felt really empowered, inspired (with) the lyrics and the house music,” the 33-year-old said. “It just feels really, really good. I think after COVID, people really needed that kind of music. It’s like a rebirth. ... It’s like an affirmation. You can look in the mirror and sing those lyrics and feel like you can take on anything.”

Celene Carter, of Lawrenceville, will attend the Monday night concert. She’s been a fan of Beyoncé since her Destiny’s Child days. Monday will be Carter’s first Beyoncé show.

“I realized she is so far along in her career, (and) I’m sure she may have another tour, that I feel like now is the best opportunity to see her because I’m not sure what her career may look like moving forward,” Carter said about her decision to buy tickets. “Everything around ‘Renaissance’ has been super big ever since she put out new music, so I couldn’t miss this opportunity.”

Beyonce performs during the Formation World Tour at the Georgia Dome on Monday, September 26, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniela Vesco/Parkwood Entertainment)

Credit: Jewel Wicker

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Credit: Jewel Wicker

Carter said she enjoys seeing how, with the help of social media, “Renaissance” has become its own universe, and she’s excited to get a glimpse of that during the concert.

Ahead of the tour, Beyoncé announced a partnership with Balmain for a collection of outfits inspired by the album. And since the tour began, she’s rocked a stunning set of costumes that feel like they belong on their own runway. Carter said seeing the variety of “Renaissance” outfit ideas on Pinterest, and what the singer has worn herself, has inspired her to become even more creative with what she’ll wear on Monday. For now, she knows it’ll include a cowboy hat, boots and “some type of shine or glitter.”

“Her wardrobe has been amazing. It’s been statement pieces, and I like how she’s worked with some Black designers. And that just trickles down into the culture of the concert. That’s a huge part of it too — tapping into your inner Beyoncé and shine and appreciate her as an artist.”

For those who couldn’t afford a ticket, Atlanta-based tastemaker DJ Ohso held a “Renaissance”-inspired party in June at Center Stage. She loved the album so much that she couldn’t resist the offer to throw a part. She said the event reminded her of why she started her career as a DJ.

During the concert, she mainly played all of the songs on “Renaissance” and mashups of her favorite songs (including a mashup of Beyoncé’s “Move” over the instrumental of Teyana Taylor’s “WTP”).

“It was therapeutic. I didn’t realize how necessary it was for my spirit. All of last year, this album breathed life into me, and I hadn’t had the opportunity to hear it live. Every time I’d go out, I’d never hear anybody play the album, and it felt like us being able to listen and be on the same page, enjoying Beyoncé and enjoying the album.”

At this year’s Grammy Awards, Beyoncé won best dance/electronic music album, best R&B song, best dance/electronic recording and best traditional R&B performance for her work on the album — a haul that made her the most awarded artist in Grammy history. The album debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Last fall, it was certified platinum.

Celebrity photographer Markus Klinko says he always knew Beyoncé would be a superstar after meeting her as a teenager. In 2000, Klinko was commissioned to do a photoshoot of Destiny’s Child for Vibe magazine. He later shot the cover art for Beyoncé's debut album “Dangerously in Love” in 2003. In honor of the album’s 20th anniversary (released on June 24, 2003), Klinko has hosted exhibitions of his work across the country, including one at Atlanta’s Jennifer Balcos Gallery in June.

The cover art for Beyoncé's 2003 debut album "Dangerously in Love" is the focus of celebrity photographer Markus Klinko's nationwide exhibits. Courtesy of Markus Klinko

Credit: Markus Klinko

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Credit: Markus Klinko

The album’s cover art features a regal Beyoncé standing with her hips bent and arms interlocked on her left side while donning a Swarovski crystal shawl and denim jeans. It has become one of the superstar’s most iconic poses to date.

“I wanted to project the global superstar that she was about to become, so I kind of showed the world with that cover who Beyoncé is going to be in the global consciousness and defining moment of 2003 — Beyoncé on top of the world and Beyoncé, the queen of pop. I think that’s what the world saw when that album dropped.”

The first CD Atlanta-bred, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Dixson ever bought was Destiny’s Child’s “The Writing’s on the Wall.” He co-wrote “Renaissance” tracks “Pure/Honey” and “Virgo’s Groove” after co-writing the singer’s Oscar-nominated track “Be Alive.”

He attended the singer’s New Jersey concert last month to celebrate the album’s one-year anniversary. He hopes to take his mom to the Atlanta show.

“I’m excited to be there to be a student,” Dixson said. “The music is already made. Now, I get to be a student.”

When creating the songs for “Renaissance,” Dixson said it was a humbling moment for him to see Beyoncé take what he’d wrote and make the song even better during the recording process. The album features a robust list of songwriters and producers as it spans a fresh array of sounds and samples. As a solo artist, Dixson said working with the album’s many collaborators has inspired his creativity on his own future projects.

“[’Renaissance’] really shows me the possibilities and capabilities of Black art to transcend the spaces that people think we can exist in. An album like ‘Renaissance’ winning best dance album at the Grammys showed me that we don’t have to be boxed in. Of course, we all wanted it to win album of the year, but it was a sign to me that this album had so much of a global reach.”


Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour

8 p.m. Aug. 11, 12 and 14. Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 1 AMB Drive NW, Atlanta. 470-341-5000

Getting there: MARTA has announced that two hours before the concerts, MARTA will run a train shuttle between Five Points station and Mercedes-Benz station. After the concert, MARTA will place additional trains into service to help clear the crowds quickly and safely. “New for this concert series, there will be bus shuttles from Vine City to West End stations for customers traveling south after the concerts,” MARTA announced in a statement. “Transit Ambassadors and MARTA police will be in rail stations to assist customers and Load and Go Teams will be on train platforms to help safely and efficiently get riders ‘in formation,’ if you will, and onto trains.”