Footage of Solange Knowles and Blood Orange mastermind Dev Hynes rehearsing their stirring cover of Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” has surfaced, prior to a performance of the track at the FYF Fest in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Joined by singer Moses Sumney and soul trio KING, the supergroup of singers pushed their vocals to the forefront starting with a rousing swell of multi-part harmonies. Drawing more from Donny Hathaway’s 1970 cover of the song than Simone’s original, Solange, Hynes, KING and Sumney all take turns on lead — Sumney, in particular, stuns with his falsetto — before they coalesce for a final vocal surge that soars over the otherwise sparse instrumentals.
The group sounded equally remarkable on stage at FYF, as fan-shot video of the actual performance of “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” attests. Again, their voices carried the song, buoyed only by a simple keyboard progression, the occasional rumbling of a bass and Hynes’ slick, subtle guitar work.
“It was a really special and spiritual moment of solidarity and pride, in celebrating our blackness,” Solange said on the website for her label, Saint Heron. “I was so grateful to share that with such beautiful, like-minded artists.”
Solange’s FYF Fest performance was notable for featuring Hynes, who co-produced her 2012 True EP. Along with “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” the pair performed a handful of True cuts as well — including “Bad Girls” and “Losing You” — marking their first time onstage together since a 2013 feud.
Despite the success of True, Hynes told The Fader that his relationship with Solange had deteriorated after the pair fought over the extent of Hynes’ writing credits on the EP. The spat took a nasty turn when it spilled on to Twitter, but luckily for fans, time seems to have healed the wound.