During Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour in 2016, fans were delightedly singing along to her smash hit “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” when the star of the show suddenly called a halt to proceedings. Then she handed the mic to somebody else. And while what happened next wasn’t what anyone in the audience had paid for, it made for a very exciting moment indeed.
Beyoncé herself is without doubt one of the biggest pop stars in the world; in fact, she is arguably among the richest and most powerful people in the entire music industry. The singer has also sold in excess of a hundred million records, is the most nominated female ever at the Grammy Awards and has won more MTV Video Music Awards than anybody else.
And one of Beyoncé’s biggest hits is “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” which is primarily about a man’s refusal to commit to marriage. On the track, Beyoncé, in her alter ego of Sasha Fierce, sings about how she’s left the man who wouldn’t marry her and has gone to a club to meet someone else. “If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it,” goes the song’s most famous lyric.
The music video for the song quickly became iconic, too. In the clip, Beyoncé and her backup dancers Ebony Williams and Ashley Everett do a stylish dance during which they point to their ring fingers. However, Everett herself has since said that she had no clue that the video would eventually become so popular. In 2017 she told website Refinery29, “When we filmed that video, I was just doing my job and so excited to be a part of it. I had no idea it would blow up like it did. But I was so grateful.”
In fact, things worked out very well indeed for Everett. After the track was released, Beyoncé went on her I Am… World Tour, and the then-19-year-old Everett became her dance captain. “It was tough, because there were a lot of dancers on the team that I looked up to, and I didn’t want to be overly bossy,” Everett told Refinery29. “But I was experienced, I knew all of the routines, and I was the most fluent in this Beyoncé language.”
Everett also served as a backup dancer for Beyoncé’s guest slot at the 2016 Super Bowl half-time performance, which was watched by more than 115 million people in the U.S. alone. But that wasn’t all. When Beyoncé announced the Formation World Tour, which would stop in 49 stadiums, Everett would be named as the dance captain for that run of shows too.
And the concerts on the Formation World Tour were certainly spectacles, featuring as they did a treadmill runway and a rotating 60-foot “Monolith” LED effect building. A whole bunch of supporting acts were along for the ride as well; Beyoncé had decided to use the tour to highlight unknown artists signed to Parkwood Entertainment, her own company.
So, fans who bought tickets for the shows were in for some curveballs – just part of the Beyoncé magic. But the biggest surprise came on the day that the tour reached St. Louis, Missouri. When Beyoncé and her backing dancers were in the middle of “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” Queen Bey suddenly stopped the show.
Then the star passed the mic – golden, of course – to another person on the stage: John Silver, a dance choreographer and the creative director of the Formation World Tour. Silver’s hometown just happened to be St. Louis, and he had something very important to say to everyone in attendance there that day.
However, his speech wasn’t really directed at the audience or at Beyoncé but at another person on the stage: Ashley Everett. Silver was her boyfriend, and he had arranged to propose to her during the tour – mid-song, in fact. “She’s my queen, so I feel like it’s only right to come out here in my hometown,” Silver said, getting down on one knee.
After that, Silver asked Everett to marry him, to which she said yes – and naturally the crowd went wild. Then the newly engaged couple kissed and hugged on stage before Beyoncé came back over to join them. “Now let’s see you do the choreography,” the star joked.
Then the song continued, with Everett gesturing to her brand new engagement ring as she danced. What a way to propose! And the internet thought that the gesture was pretty neat too. “That was the cutest when she went back to the choreography and had her own ring to flaunt and a huge smile to match,” read one of the comments on YouTube, where a video clip of the proposal has over eight million views.
And Everett and Silver’s love story is itself a sweet one. The couple first met back in 2010 while appearing in Ne-Yo’s video for “One in a Million.” They were instantly attracted to each other, too, dancing together even when the song was off. Later, Silver asked Ne-Yo if he could fly Everett to his birthday party in Miami – and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, in 2017 Silver revealed to Refinery29 exactly what had gone into the very dramatic proposal. “Ashley has this thing where she likes to say I don’t show her love and affection publicly, so I decided to propose to her in the most public way possible,” he said. “I called Beyoncé’s choreographers and told them I was envisioning coming out to ‘Single Ladies.’”
Silver went on, “Of course, we’re all creative directors, so it turned into a whole thing. But they were so busy with the tour and the show was always changing, that when I bought the ring in May they weren’t ready at all. So I held on to it until they called and asked if I’d want to do it in St. Louis – which was perfect, because that’s my hometown.”
The trouble with Silver coming out to “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” was that that song wasn’t actually supposed to be part of the tour. But Beyoncé, who was overjoyed to hear the news of the potential proposal, duly put the track back in the lineup – and Everett didn’t suspect a thing, either.
Indeed, Everett certainly didn’t expect her boyfriend to show up on stage. And that day on the Formation tour was actually the first time Silver had ever met Beyoncé face to face. Considering that, and also that he was being both watched and filmed by thousands of people, he really kept his cool.
“The first time I met Beyoncé, she was passing me the microphone!” Silver told Refinery29. “Meanwhile, it’s proposal speech time, my heart is beating a mile a minute in front of a few hundred thousand people and my girlfriend, and Beyoncé is over there looking at me, like, ‘Don’t mess this up on my mic!’”
Everett also shared with Refinery29 exactly what she had thought during that moment. “It was like my personal life collided with my professional life, so I felt really vulnerable,” she said. “Everyone asked how I was able to start dancing again right after that, but that was the easy part! It was such an amazing moment.”
And hopefully there will be many more amazing moments to come for the couple. In 2017 Everett celebrated their “engagiversary” on Instagram, posting a picture of the proposal with the words, “One year ago today when you raised the bar.” And the pair plan to get married in fall 2018 – perhaps Beyoncé will be their guest of honor?