“Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
– Excerpt from “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou (1978)
Nicki Minaj gave weight to these signature Angelou verses on Wednesday night during A&E Televison’s Shining a Light concert. The event brings together famous musicians to perform and to facilitate a discussion on race in America.
Other artists in the program line-up include John Legend, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Miguel and Tori Kelly. And while Minaj did not sing or rap at the concert, she stole the show with her powerful and compelling performance of Angelou’s poem.
On a side note, “Still I Rise” is the title of a track on Minaj’s 2009 mixtape, “Beam Me Up Scotty.” In the song, Minaj gives a litany of disparaging observations and unsavory rumors that she has faced coming up in the rap industry. This “Still I Rise” demonstrates that even in 2009, Minaj was channeling the hopeful and resilient of Angelou.
A&E televised the concert this past Friday at 8pm EST, but it is also available in its entirety on the television channel’s website.