It's a sweeping ballad from her album 4, and for the video for "I Was Here," a regal Beyoncé decided to partner with the United Nations, debuting the clip on Sunday (August 19), which happens to be World Humanitarian Day.
Looking glamorous in white, floor-length gown and her hair pulled back in a sleek ponytail, B sings the poignant song with the U.N. audience seated in front of her, and images from recent disasters screening in panoramic view behind her. As the song progresses, scenes of globes and constellations turn up; laser lights and a small blue arrow, imprinted with the song's title, trace a path along the globe.
On August 10, Beyoncé appeared at the U.N., along with CNN's Anderson Cooper, and filmed the video that night. She belted out the tune in front of an audience in an effort to shed light on the various regions that have been affected by natural disasters as well as the humanitarian workers who selflessly come to their aid.
"I'd like to ask everyone to make sure they're a part of August 19," B said of commemorating the 2003 terror attack on Iraq's Canal Hotel, which left 100 wounded and killed at least 22, including the U.N. Special Representative in Iraq. "It's such a beautiful, beautiful day, and I'd like to honor the 22 people who lost their lives. God bless you all, thank you so much for having me."
Queen B and the U.N. joined forces with humanitarian aid organizations to launch the initiative, "a global day to celebrate humanity and the spirit of people helping people."
The World Humanitarian Day website recently launched and allows users to post the "individual acts of good" they have done in their communities. By today's end, organizers are hoping to reach 1 billion people with a single message.
"We all see the headlines, and we think, 'What can I really do to help?' " Beyoncé said in a statement. "World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity for all of us to work together to make a difference. This is our time to leave our mark on the world and show that we were here and we care."
Head over to MTV ACT to find out how you can take action on World Humanitarian Day!
4 placed sonic experimentation front and center, with a myriad of collaborators — The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Shea Taylor, André 3000, Kanye West, Switch, Babyface — to help facilitate that. With their help, Beyoncé drew from the musical influences (Prince, '90s R&B, vintage soul) that had shaped her musical history but that hadn’t always bubbled up to the surface in her music. While she had always executive produced her solo albums, 4 brought a renewed sense of ownership. "B was the main producer, as every idea had to pass her approval and the bars that she set,” 4's recording engineer DJ Swivel told Sound on Sound in October 2011. “Ideas would come in and she'd say 'OK, that's great, but let's add live drums to this part,' you know?.” She also wanted the album to capture her own sense of urgency. "She can knock a song out in an hour, and it will sound incredible,” Swivel said. “I remember one day we worked for 36 hours straight, and she cut six entire songs with leads, [background vocals], and comps. I think she even managed to squeeze in a couple of business meetings too!”