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About Beyoncé

Above her strides as a multi-hyphenate star, few modern pop artists have worked as hard to put the culture and concerns of Black America in front of a broader audience as Beyoncé Knowles. Whether surveying civil rights (“Formation”), Black feminism (“***Flawless,” “Irreplaceable”), the collective pride of HBCU culture (HOMECOMING), Black LGBTQIA+ liberations of disco and house music (RENAISSANCE), or the reclamation of country music’s roots (COWBOY CARTER), Beyoncé’s work positions her as a first-rate musician and cultural archivist, one who knows the responsibility of uplifting the past while sowing seeds for the future. Entertainment, yes—but also a kind of ambassadorship. Born in 1981 and raised in Houston, she started singing and dancing as a child. (One teacher, Darlette Johnson, discovered she could sing when she started humming a song and Knowles finished it—a performance the shy Knowles wouldn’t reproduce until Johnson offered her a dollar.) In 1990, she joined Girl’s Tyme, which evolved into Destiny’s Child. Under the management of Knowles’ father, Mathew, they became one of the biggest forces in pop, blending the familiar comforts of the all-girl vocal group with notions of female empowerment, sisterhood, and a refreshingly contemporary mix of pop, R&B, and hip-hop (“Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Say My Name,” “Survivor,” “Soldier”). Her first solo feature was on a track by her future husband, rap phenom JAY-Z (“’03 Bonnie & Clyde”), marking the beginning of a fertile partnership and a point of enduring public fascination. From there, Knowles has been more or less unstoppable. As her fame has grown, her sound and approach have only gotten bolder, spawning intimate, relatively experimental albums like 2013’s BEYONCÉ and 2016’s Lemonade, alongside celebrations like the 2018 JAY-Z collaboration EVERYTHING IS LOVE (credited to THE CARTERS), 2022’s RENAISSANCE, which celebrated the liberated sound of Black queer disco and house, and 2024’s COWBOY CARTER, a sprawling homage to the often neglected roots of country music. It isn’t just the music—which has crisscrossed from dancehall to soul ballads to New Orleans bounce to the chopped-and-screwed sound of her native Houston to country and Americana—but also the figure she cuts in the culture. Here’s a woman who sang at a presidential inauguration (2009, the Obamas, Etta James’ “At Last”), revealed her pregnancy in front of an audience of millions (2011, the MTV Video Music Awards, “Love on Top”), and joined forces with the Chicks on a Nashville stage (2016, the CMA Awards, “Daddy Lessons”). She also joined ranks with Black Lives Matter (“Formation”), feminism (“***Flawless”), and LGBTQIA+ culture (“Break My Soul”) when her high-profile status had all but exempted her; who name-checked figures like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Audre Lorde, and Cornel West for people who might otherwise not have encountered them. Blurring the lines between genre and representation, Beyoncé’s brave leap into country music with 2024’s COWBOY CARTER unearthed its rich connection to Black music while carving out new sonic plateaus. She became the first Black woman to top the U.S. country chart with its smash lead single, “TEXAS HOLD ’EM,” sparking a surge of wide recognition for trailblazing Black female country artists like Tanner Adell and Linda Martell. It’s a testament to Beyoncé’s role as a pop star and cultural bearer—using her platform to elevate the marginalized and preserve Black history in the pop music sphere.

Houston, TX, United States
September 4, 1981
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