Those that live on the East End might have recognized one of the locations from Beyoncé’s Black is King, Queen Bey’s new visual album, which premiered on Disney+ on Friday, July 31, 2020.
Shelter Island’s Sylvester Manor Educational Farm was selected as one of the filming locations, showcasing the historical site’s woodlands, waterways and spectacular ancient trees.
Written, directed, and executive produced by Beyoncé, Black is King serves as an accompaniment to the 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift. The singer and actress starred as Nala in last year’s Disney The Lion King remake.
“It was originally filmed as a companion piece to The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack and meant to celebrate the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry. I could never have imagined that a year later, all the hard work that went into this production would serve a greater purpose,” Beyoncé shared about the project on Instagram.
“The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey. We are all in search of safety and light. Many of us want change. I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books,” she continued. “With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy. I spent a lot of time exploring and absorbing the lessons of past generations and the rich history of different African customs. While working on this film, there were moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed, like many others on my creative team, but it was important to create a film that instills pride and knowledge. I only hope that from watching, you leave feeling inspired to continue building a legacy that impacts the world in an immeasurable way. I pray that everyone sees the beauty and resilience of our people.”
Sylvester Manor Educational Farm was established in 2009, with the mission of “preserving, cultivating and sharing historic Sylvester Manor to ensure that food and art remain connected to community and the land.” The site was once a Native American hunting, fishing and farming ground. Starting in 1652, it served as home to eleven generations of its original European settler family. Throughout the years, Sylvester Manor has transitioned from a slaveholding provisioning plantation to an Enlightenment-era farm, to an innovative food industrialist’s residence and finally to an organic educational farm.
“We believe Beyoncé chose our site understanding the cultures who lived and worked together at Sylvester Manor and the importance they have played in the Manor’s nearly 400 year history. Beyoncé and her dancers performing on the land of the Manor – paid tribute to the Ancestors of Sylvester Manor, invoking their spirits and celebrating their heritage,” reflected Sylvester Manor Curator and Archivist, Donnamarie Barnes.
For more information, visit www.sylvestermanor.org.