What Grammy viewers learned during Sunday's telecast was that the contestation between artists isn't exclusive to records sold or critically acclaimed reviews. After seeing Beyoncé (as well as her much talked about cast of put-upon black men) fumble and falter her way through Mahalia Jackson's classic, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," which was performed brilliantly by vocalist Ledisi on the Selma soundtrack, it can now be argued that artists aren't merely tossing about their faux manes, they're also throwing around their supposed professional clout. Good manners be damned. Never mind that Ledisi delivered the classic hymn with both thrilling exactitude and a visceral gospel heft reserved for those singers whose careers rightfully dominate America's musical cannon. That the song is so closely associated with a film that captured man's inhumanity to man, the misguide belief that what's black is decidedly less than, and what is lighter is inherently better, worthier of praise and advancement, was given to a lighter singer over a darker one shows just how pervasive racial idolization remains in American culture.
Beyoncé wanted to sing it, and we did not breathlessly await her performance as much as we were left to grudgingly endure it. Through much of her awkward rendition I found myself praying that our precious Lord would take the mic.