Beyoncé is breaking records and inspiring women everywhere to own their power

A cultural icon and a beacon of hope for women all over the world, especially black women, Beyoncé Knowles knows how to bring it. 

By Tsunami Costabir

Queen Bey pours into her music vulnerability and emotion, empowering herself and letting other people feel seen and represented. Her work is revolutionary and has helped people of colour find peace and power in their existence. Beyoncé  has reached for the stars, and allowed herself to be everything she wants to be – now that’s iconic. 

Baby Bey

Beyoncé was born and raised in Houston, Texas, along with her younger sister, Solange, who would later follow her into the entertainment industry. Her father, Mathew, worked for many years as a sales representative selling medical equipment. Her mother, Tina, worked in a bank and later opened her own beauty salon, one of the most successful in Houston.

She was put into a dance class at the age of seven, where she stunned people with her performances. “When we saw her on stage for the first time, it was incredible. I’d never seen her so alive and confident,” her mother, Tina, recalled. 

Rise To Fame

She found her moment in the spotlight during the late 1990s, as the lead singer of the R&B group ‘Destiny’s Child’ with Kelley Rowland and Michelle Williams. The original quartet comprised Knowles, Rowland, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett. They were signed to Columbia Records in 1997. In 2001, the band announced their hiatus to pursue solo careers. 

Going Solo

To date, Beyoncé  has released seven studio albums, 5 EPs and 83 singles. Her 2016 album ‘Lemonade’ was the world’s best-selling album of 2016 and the most acclaimed album of her career, exploring themes of infidelity, feminism, and womanism. In 2018, she released ‘Everything Is Love’, a collaborative album with her husband, Jay-Z, as the Carters. Beyoncé  received further critical acclaim for her seventh studio album, ‘Renaissance’, which experimented with disco and house music and paid homage to LGBTQ+ ball culture. The album’s lead single ‘Break My Soul’ was her first solo number-one track since 2008.

Family Girl

Beyoncé  and her husband, Jay Z, have three children: a daughter, Blue Ivy and twins, Rumi and Sir. Blue Ivy has hit many red carpets with her famous parents and is quite the natural performer herself. Rumi and Sir have been kept out of the public eye. Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles, once revealed that Rumi “is really just going to rule the world,” while Sir “is kind of laidback and chills” like dad JAY-Z.

In 2020, Beyoncé  opened up about suffering multiple miscarriages. She said: “I began to search for deeper meaning when life began to teach me lessons I didn’t know I needed. I learned that all pain and loss are, in fact, a gift. Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else.” She also spoke up about how her life changed after having her daughter: “Then I had Blue, and the quest for my purpose became so much deeper. Being ‘number one’ was no longer my priority. My true win is creating art and a legacy that will live far beyond me. That’s fulfilling.”

Girl Boss

In the corporate world that men disproportionately govern, Beyoncé distinguishes herself as the founder and CEO of her own record label and production company, Parkwood Entertainment. In December 2013, they released Beyoncé’s fifth self-titled visual album. The record sold 828,773 copies worldwide in its first three days of availability, becoming the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store at that time.

In October 2014, Parkwood Entertainment formed a large collaboration with Topshop, creating the subsidiary Parkwood Topshop Athletic Ltd to produce an athletic streetwear brand, ‘IVYPARK’. Parkwood Entertainment has been listed twice by Fast Company as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Music (2015 and 2017).

In 2016, Parkwood Entertainment released Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed sixth studio album, ‘Lemonade’, which was accompanied by the release of a 60-minute film of the same name, which premiered on HBO.

She has a net worth of US$500 million, while Jay-Z has an estimated net worth of nearly US$1.3 billion. The total net worth of the entertainment power couple amounts to a whopping US$1.8 billion. 

Giving Back

The list of the initiatives she has taken up is long, but perhaps her greatest contribution is the Survivor Foundation. She established the foundation with her fellow Destiny’s Child Kelly Rowland with the aim of helping people affected by Hurricane Katrina. In 2007 she collaborated with several anti-hunger foundations, including Feeding America, The Houston Food Bank, and The Global Food Banking Network. Beyoncé also collaborated with actor Salma Hayek and founded Chime For Change to raise awareness regarding women and girls, and to raise funds for the same cause. 

In 2013, she founded BeyGOOD, a public charity foundation. Their mission is to focus on “economic equity by supporting marginalised and under-resourced programs, committed to serving people through educational scholarships, advocacy of internships, and access to resources for advancing entrepreneurship and small business sustainability across the country and abroad.” In 2020, BeyGOOOD donated US$6 million to provide relief to communities of colour and essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Awards & Snubs

Historically, institutions are known to have a prejudice against ethnic minorities. Beyoncé, like other artists, has faced her, not so fair, share of snubs – essentially, losing well-deserved awards to their white counterparts. In 2019, Kanye West had an infamous on-stage blow-up when Beyoncé  lost the MTV VMA Award for ‘Best Music Video’ to Taylor Swift. 

Before the 2023 Grammy ceremony kicked off, Roc-A-Fella Records founder Jay-Z, 53, expressed his hope that Beyoncé’s record would win the prestigious album of the year trophy. Jay-Z explained why his spouse deserved the award and talked about how the album made such a big impact. “Look what it’s done to the culture. Look how the energy of the world moved. They play her whole album in the club. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. The whole entire joint – like, everything.”

Beyoncé took home four awards throughout the night. Her win in the best dance/electronic music album category put her over the edge as the artist with the most Grammy wins of all time – 32. She is also leading the race, alongside hubby Jay-Z,  for most nominated artist, with 88 nominations under her belt. However, after having four Album Of The Year Grammy nominations, Beyoncé  has no wins. Her game-changing surprise self-titled set lost to Beck’s ‘Morning Phase’ in 2015, and ‘Lemonade’ — one of the best albums of the century — bowed out to Adele’s “25” in 2017; and in 2023, she lost Album of the Year to Harry Styles’ ‘Harry’s House’.

The Real Revolution: Womanism & Intersectionality 

Beyoncé  redefines feminism and womanhood through her art and her life. She shows off her lyrical genius and groundbreaking music like ‘Brown Skin Girl’ which featured women like Lupita Nyongo, Serena Willams and Naomi Campbell. Her feminism is intersectional where she takes inspiration and reaches out to not just people of colour, but also the queer community. In her acceptance speech at the Grammys, she gave a shout-out to the queer community for “inventing the (electronic/dance) genre.”

One might argue that she has reimagined the traditional constraints on women in their roles as mothers and wives. She explores marriage’s sexual dimension in songs like ‘Drunk in Love’, breaking down the narrative that feminists are women who hate men or, worse still, hate sex. Time and time again, Beyoncé  sings songs about how her husband makes her feel powerful. In an interview with Oprah, she said (referring to her husband), “I wouldn’t be the woman that I am without that man.” 

In 2013 during an interview, she was asked whether or not she considered herself a feminist, to which she said, “That word can be very extreme… I’m just a woman, and I love being a woman… I do believe in equality and that we have a way to go, and it’s something that’s pushed aside.” However, Beyoncé still asserts herself as a feminist through her fierce choreography, song lyrics, and artistic performances.

In 2020, she received the humanitarian BET award from Michelle Obama for her “activism that demands justice for black lives,” and her commitment to the black community can be seen in everything that she does. Obama went on to appreciate Beyoncé  for supporting younger performers and calling out “sexism and racism when she sees it.”

There doesn’t appear to be much more left for her to accomplish, but her journey is far from over. All hail Queen Bey! – one the most influential women the world has ever known. 

BOX:

Their Words, Not Ours

Beyoncé has been an inspiration to so many, including celebrities, who often find themselves gushing about the singer with no holds barred. Here are some words from the most successful members of the BeyHive!

Adele at the Grammy’s in 2017:

“I can’t possibly accept this award, and I’m very humbled and very grateful and gracious, but my life is Beyoncé, and the album to me, the ‘Lemonade’ album, Beyoncé, was so monumental and so well thought out. And so beautiful and soul-bearing, we all got to see another side of you that you don’t always let us see, and we appreciate that. And all of us artists adore you. You are our light. And the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my Black friends feel, is empowering. And you make them stand up for themselves. And I love you. I always have. And I always will. I appreciate it.” 

Lizzo at the Grammy’s in 2023:

“In the fifth grade, I skipped school to see you perform. My sister, she got me out of school. It was literature. I’m good. You changed my life. You sang that gospel medley, and the way you made me feel, I was like, ‘I want to make people feel this way with my music’. So thank you so much. You clearly are the artist of our lives.” 

Rihanna:

“[The career I respect most is] Beyoncé[‘s]. Definitely. I just thought, the first thing I saw was her beauty and how beautiful she was, and I listened to her music, and I loved her music. She’s incredibly talented, I think she’s what every female artist should strive to be like. Despite all her success, she still remains humble.”

Taylor Swift:

“It’s like normal for everyone to love Beyoncé, but I love her more than that amount, like more than the normal amount. I try really hard not to let it get creepy. I just really like to channel it into a joyous admiration and appreciation. She’s awesome.”

Kanye West:

“Nobody really wants to recognise that Beyoncé is a living legend, and that she is just as great if not greater than the artists we had in the past. She’s probably greater than Tina Turner.”

Nicki Minaj:

“Just her name alone defines greatness. Just her. Her. That push – every woman wants to be that driven. When I met her, she was a super sweetheart, and the fact that she complimented me, I never forgot that. That stuck with me. She was like, ‘You killed it,’ and I was like, ‘Huh?’ Like, that just didn’t even register. Here I am with someone who I admire so much just cause [she’s] so driven. She told me I had killed it. That really resonates with me.”

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