Memories were made at the September 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when Kanye West stole the stage from Taylor Swift as she began to give her acceptance speech. But the most lasting image of all will be the moment that will define Beyonce Knowles for years to come.
As the sudden interruption began, cameras caught the faces of many in the audience, especially Beyonce, who was visibly stunned by the hoopla. At that point, no one yet knew if this was all some kind of planned surprise for the audience.
When it became clear that Taylor's well deserved moment on stage had been hijacked, Beyonce, at her own urging, quickly saved the day for both the show and for Taylor. Beyonce brought a decency, graciousness and generosity to the pop music scene that is not seen often enough.
Standing aside protectively, Beyonce made sure that Taylor got to make her acceptance speech, which was the best possible way to salvage the situation and show support from one musical artist to another. Although Beyonce gave up her own speech time, Beyonce is a star of such heights that she needs no platform on one MTV awards show - she's already a legend, though she's still only 28.
Beyonce was in an awkward position since Kanye's outburst was his way of lauding Beyonce's music video. Beyonce managed to come to Taylor's aid without disparaging Kanye in the process. Beyonce's concern for all and good manners speak volumes and set an example of character in a tough situation when there's no script or guideline to tell a person what to do - and millions are watching.
When Beyonce was only 5, she was my piano student for a year here in Houston. (Yes, I tell people that every chance I get!) She attended a Catholic school with a Montessori program at the time. She was a quiet, smart, totally adorable little girl - with her striking, long, blondish curls and angelic face. As you can imagine, she quickly picked up on everything I showed her on the piano. Her father, Mathew Knowles, who became her brilliant manager, was the one who picked her up from her lessons.
I've never seen a photo that shows exactly how adorable Beyonce was in her school uniform in her Kindergarten year, and have always wished I had taken one. I enjoyed teaching her very much, mostly because of the quiet and careful way the tiny five-year-old quickly learned everything, and how particularly precious she was. She was already someone striking and memorable even at five years old. Of course I had no idea that I was sitting on the piano bench next to someone who would become one of the most famous music stars of all time.
Since I remember her naturally shy demeanor, I know how true it is when Beyonce is described as having a no-holds-barred personality on stage, but off-stage being notably demure and reserved - something that is true of many performers. Beyonce has a natural graciousness that greatly enhances her enormous talent and has made it possible for her to become an unofficial ambassador of what's great about the USA.
For me, the greatest proof of Beyonce's enormous musical talent is when she performed the National Anthem here in Houston at the 2006 Super Bowl. Here it is: