For The First Time Ever, A Black Woman Will Be Headlining Coachella

OK ladies, now let's get in formation.
Queen Bey performing in Philadelphia during her Formation World Tour.
Queen Bey performing in Philadelphia during her Formation World Tour.

On Tuesday, Coachella announced its 2017 lineup which includes headliners Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar and ― best of all ― Beyoncé.

Queen B headlining one of the most popular music festivals in the country is exciting for more than the simple fact that she is Beyoncé: She’s also the first solo female artist to headline Coachella in the last decade and the first black woman ever to headline the California-based festival.

Since Coachella’s inception in 1999, only two women have headlined the star-studded festival. Before Beyoncé, Bjork headlined the festival in 2007 and once before that in 2002. Portishead ― a three-person English rock band whose lead singer is a woman ― headlined Coachella in 2008.

That’s a pretty abysmal track record.

The gender disparity in festival lineups is unfortunately not new and is not limited to Coachella. In a 2016 analysis of 10 of the most popular American music festivals, The Huffington Post found that all-male acts make up an overwhelming majority of festival lineups.

All-male performers made up around 66 percent of all artists in the past five years of lineups from San Francisco’s Outside Lands and New York City’s Governors Ball. And electronic-based festivals such as Electric Zoo and Ultra have an even wider gender gap: All-male performers made up 93 percent of performers at EZoo and 90 percent at Ultra over the past five years.

Coachella fell somewhere in the middle, with all-male acts averaging around 75 percent of the festival’s lineup over the last five years.

Last year, Coachella’s lineup included 168 male artists and just 60 female artists ― a figure that includes both all-female and mixed-gender acts. This year, there are 108 all-male acts and 40 all-female and mixed-gender acts. The number of acts overall is lower than last year, most likely because this initial lineup doesn’t take into account edits that are usually made as the festival date nears.

While the percentage of female acts at Coachella have continued to increase slightly over the past few years, the number is still miniscule. Let’s hope big names like Beyoncé prove that there is a space for women in festival lineups ― and they can bring the house down as well as any male artist in the game.

Time to get in formation, people.

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