From Mami Wata to Mary, These Are the References Behind Beyonce's Grammy Performance: Exclusive

Even without an album of the year win, Beyoncé swept the Grammys with a spellbinding performance of her songs, “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles.”  Her fashion was custom designed by Peter Dundas for his new eponymous collection and, alongside her set design, paid tribute to various female deities and the overall majesty of women. Below, our list of the songstress' strongest cultural references from her 2017 Grammy performance.

Solange Knowles

Beyonce has gushed previously about being Solange’s biggest fan.  Is it that surprising, then, that she honored her sister’s Grammy-award winning album, A Seat At The Table by literally taking a gravity-defying seat at the head of a long table on stage? Not at all.


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This Yoruba deity is the goddess of love and fertility, whose responsibility for both giving life and taking it away is exemplified through her powers over the Earth’s waters.  She is one of the highest orishas, or dieties, in the Yoruba culture and is represented wearing flowing yellow garments.  Beyoncé alluded heavily to Oshun in her maternity photos, and continued the relationship on stage through the inclusion of vivid yellow cloth, draped around her, her mother, and Blue Ivy.


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Mami Wata

Mami Wata is a West African water deity depicted with long, flowing hair and known for her beauty. Dundas even incorporated this into his outfit sketches, as Beyoncé’s free flowing tresses intensified the halo glow around her.  Mami Wata is also a derivative of the ancient Egyptian goddess, Uati, who predates Isis as the mother of all of the Egyptian gods, able to give birth and life without male counterpart.


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The Hindu goddess of devotion is known as a “Mother Goddess” and “Goddess with Creative Power”, honoring fertility, love, and all-encompassing divine power.  Traditionally depicted with golden skin and either a red dress or with accented breasts and hips, Parvati’s attire was best mirrored in Dundas’ chained outfit and his show-stopping red number post-performance. The influence was also shown in the heavy necklaces, multiple swaying arms, and profusion of flowers.


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Virgin Mary

The stunning crowning halo, custom made for Beyoncé, cannot escape references to the Virgin Mother Mary, hailed and honored within Christianity for her piety, devotion, and sacredness. Beyoncé’s dancers even wore similar halos as they surrounded the expecting mother, hands outstretched in allusion to Christian (see: Baptist) forms of prayer and protection.

2017 Grammys