Beyoncé: The woman, the myth, the legend, the queen. Like those who blazed the trail before her with only one name, Beyoncé is singular, and has ascended the steps into pop culture immortality. With over 169 million Instagram followers, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone around the world who hasn’t heard of her, and her multi-decade career shows zero signs of slowing down. Instead, the iconic diva only continues to one-up herself with show-stopping performance after show-stopping performance. And we are here for every single second of it.
It’s hard to imagine a time when we weren’t flocking to the Beyhive like moths to the flame. But Beyoncé didn’t always run the world — go all the way back to Houston, Texas in the early 1980s and you’ll find a little baby Bey who was brand new to the world. And boy, has that once-tiny girl evolved into one seriously incredible woman. Read on the witness the stunning transformation of Beyoncé.
Beyoncé’s a Houston original
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles came into this world on Sept. 4, 1981, courtesy of proud parents Matthew and Tina Knowles. Unlike her husband, Jay-Z, she didn’t face the same struggles that he did coming up in the notorious Marcy Projects in Brooklyn. "I didn’t grow up poor. I went to private school; we had a very nice house, cars, a housekeeper," she shared in an interview with Vanity Fair. Her father was a sales exec at Xerox, and her mother was the successful owner of a salon. Honestly? That sounds pretty idyllic.
But from a very early age, Beyoncé knew that she was born to be a performer, and she pushed herself super hard of her own accord. "I wasn’t doing this because I didn’t have a choice, or to support the family, or because I had to get out of a bad situation," she continued. "I just was determined; this is what I wanted to do so bad." Well, all that hard work paid off, Bey, because look at where you are now!
From shy girl to performance powerhouse
Believe it or not, Beyoncé was actually quite the shy child, as her mother tells it. That was the main reason Mama Knowles enrolled little Bey in a dance class, hoping that she’s make friends with the other kids, according to an interview in Vanity Fair. Can you just imagine Beyoncé as a little girl in a tutu? Such a cute visual.
Then when Beyoncé turned 7 years old in 1988, her dance teacher told her mother that she was special. And while Tina shrugged it off at the time, she began to realize it was true when she saw her daughter perform in a contest — and had her mind promptly blown. "When she got onstage she was just a different kid," she recalled in the interview. "She was so confident and she looked so happy, and we were like, ‘Who is that?’ After that, there was no stopping her — she was obsessed." Thus, the stars began to align, and Beyoncé started her inevitable ascent into super-stardom.
Beyoncé’s valuable life lesson at age 9
She became fully consumed by the performing bug, so Beyoncé dove into her singing and dancing with full force, and started winning talent competitions as a result. By the time she was a pre-teen, she was in a girl group by the name of Girls Tyme — who found themselves on the legendary Star Search stage in the early 1990s. For Bey, this was a dream realized. "In my mind, we would perform on Star Search, we would win, we would get a record deal," she recalled in Self-Titled. "There’s no way in the world I would have ever imagined losing as a possibility." That sounds like our girl!
But unfortunately for Beyoncé and the ladies of Girls Tyme, that unfathomable result was exactly what happened, and she was utterly devastated by it. "At that time, you don’t realize that you could actually work super hard, and give everything you have, and still lose," she continued. It’s sad, but all too true. However, in retrospect, Bey looks at this experience as a very valuable life lesson. "It was the best message for me," she added. Way to find the silver lining.
Two parents, two priorities
Despite losing on Star Search, Beyoncé didn’t give up. Instead, she doubled down on her training, and started writing songs, as well as practicing on karaoke machines. She also practiced dance routines, and started wearing costumes her mother made for her.
Speaking of Mama Knowles, Beyoncé credits her with making sure she had a normal childhood, despite rising to fame at an early age. "My mother is the balance," she revealed an interview in Vanity Fair. "She always kept me a normal kid; she made sure I had slumber parties, made sure we hung out with our friends — even after eighth grade, when we started being home-schooled." Good for you, Tina! That couldn’t have been easy.
It was Matthew, who started her on "media training" early, who nurtured and encouraged Beyoncé’s professional ambitions. "My father was more focused," she continued. "He wanted it for me and did everything because he’s my father and wanted me to be happy, but he’s a workaholic." Sounds like he really believed in her and would stop at nothing to see her flourish.
Beyoncé broke out with Destiny’s Child
All of the hard work and training finally paid off when, after a rocky start, the now-famous girl group Destiny’s Child broke out as a pop sensation. Initially there were several different members, but it was Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams who ended up being the mainstay members of the group. And boy did they dominate the airwaves!
Destiny’s Child’s destiny was cemented when they landed a record deal in 1997 with Columbia Records, according to Faze magazine. After some initial successes, they were launched into mainstream stardom with the release of "Say My Name," off of their album The Writing’s on the Wall. After that, hit after hit followed, such as "Independent Woman," "Survivor," and "Soldier." They even picked up two Grammy Awards in 2000 and 2001, as well as nine Grammy nominations. They were on fire!
After a hiatus, Destiny’s Child regrouped in 2004 and recorded their final album, Destiny Fulfilled. Then in 2005, on the tour for the album, they announced that they were officially disbanding, according to MTV News. But they leave behind a rich musical legacy and remain friends to this day.
During Destiny’s Child’s hiatus, Beyoncé began to focus on her solo career. To that end, she released her first album Dangerously in Love in 2004, according to Rolling Stone — and the world was more than ready for it. The album was a huge success by all metrics, led by the hit single "Crazy in Love," which featured Jay-Z as a guest artist. Of course, that was just the start of what has been an unparalleled career eventually leading to dozens of Grammy Awards.
In addition to making the transition from Destiny’s Child to solo performer, Bey’s fashion sense also started to evolve, according to Vogue. Free from the constraints of girl group style, she began to take her fashion inspiration directly from the runway, sporting looks that amplified her personality, power, and message. That’s when her signature, attention-grabbing, sexy but self-aware style truly began to be realized, showing that she was more than ready to become the independent woman she was born to be.
From Ms. Knowles to Mrs. Carter
Speaking of "Crazy in Love," Beyoncé and Jay-Z first met when she was only 18 years old, according to an article in People magazine. After a couple of music collaborations, including on Jay-Z’s 2003 release "03 Bonnie & Clyde," the pair started dating, once they had cultivated a solid friendship. They made their love official to the world when they stepped out together on the red carpet at the 2004 VMAs, though the paparazzi had been photographing the couple together for years, according to Vanity Fair.
Four years later, in 2008, Bey and Jay tied the knot, and officially became husband and wife after many years of partnership. The couple said "I do" in a secret wedding ceremony in Jay-Z’s Tribeca penthouse in the presence of friends and family — accompanied by 70,000 dendrobium orchids imported from Thailand. The romance is real, y’all!
If you were lucky enough to get an invite, the wedding was reportedly a special one. "It was a very emotional wedding — lots of crying — and really very spiritual," a source told People. Aw!
Beyoncé parted professionally from her dad in 2011
For many, many years, Beyoncé’s father, Matthew, was also her manager. And although he was accused of favoring her by former members of Destiny’s Child, according to Faze magazine, their professional partnership was solid, and not tabloid fodder as other similar partnerships have been. For the most part, things were pretty quiet.
Still, in 2011, Beyoncé was ready for her freedom, and she amicably ended her dad’s long run as her manager. "I’ve only parted ways with my father on a business level," she explained in an interview with Us Weekly. "He is my father for life and I love my dad dearly. I am grateful for everything he has taught me." Perhaps Bey was just all grown up, and didn’t need her father in her corner all the time.
Beyoncé also acknowledged the impact that Matthew and Tina had on her as a person. "I grew up watching both he and my mother manage and own their own businesses," she continued. "They were hard-working entrepreneurs and I will continue to follow in their footsteps." Way to spread your wings, Bey!
Enter Beyoncé’s first princess: Blue Ivy Carter
Everything changed for Beyoncé and Jay-Z when their daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, made her grand entrance into world on Jan. 7, 2012. When she arrived, she made both Bey and Jay parents for the first time, and she stole the hearts of fans as well.
Initially, Beyoncé admitted to being scared, as pregnancy and birth bring with them many things you can’t control. But any anxieties she had about motherhood dissipated when she went into labor and checked into the hospital. "My family and my closest people were there when I gave birth," she recalled in an interview with Vogue magazine. "Everything that scared me just was not present in that room. So for me to really let go and really appreciate every contraction… it was the best day of my life." What a wonderful way to bring a baby into the world.
Beyoncé also felt intensely connected to Blue Ivy during the birthing process, which helped her forget her own pain. "We were talking," she continued. "I know it sounds crazy, but I felt a communication." Motherhood is indeed a powerful thing.
Jay-Z’s infidelity and how Beyoncé coped
The year 2016 was a huge one for Queen Bey, as she dropped "Formation," played the halftime show at the Super Bowl, launched a world tour, and released her critically-acclaimed album Lemonade with an accompanying movie. And while Beyoncé didn’t take home the Grammy Award for album of the year, Adele spent a significant part of her own acceptance speech praising Beyoncé’s work. Try not to cry while you watch it, fam.
It didn’t take people very long to figure out that Lemonade was a deeply personal album that addressed Jay-Z’s infidelity, the ripples it caused in their marriage, and their eventual reconciliation. Jay-Z’s album 4:44, which was released in 2017, was also a meditation on their marriage. Jay-Z even told The New York Times that the two albums were made in joint recording sessions. So even though the Carters had been through some rocky stuff, they didn’t let it divide them, and the result is some of the most compelling art of its time.
On top of everything else, Beyoncé affirmed her commitment to feminism in a 2016 interview with Elle magazine. Our girl was putting everything out front, and holding nothing back anymore.
Beyoncé: a fashion, hair, and makeup icon
Beyoncé has been a pop culture icon for a long time now, and is responsible for plenty of style trends. If you needed proof of that, there are entire Instagram accounts devoted to cataloging literally everything she wears. That’s just how good at fashion Queen Bey has become.
In addition to her style, the way she wears her hair is also iconic. Bey made waves (literally) with her hyper-intentional natural look in Vogue‘s September 2018 issue. "I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies," Beyoncé revealed in her cover story. "That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for this shoot." Sources revealed to HuffPost that Anna Wintour gave Queen Bey unprecedented creative control.
Though, Beyoncé certainly doesn’t always keep it natural, and her creative looks have inspired makeup artists everywhere — you can find plenty of makeup tutorials on YouTube to help you look like her. That’s thanks in no small part to her makeup artist, Sir John, who has been keeping Bey’s makeup on fleek for years, according to an article in The Skincare Edit. We can’t wait to see what look she’ll popularize next!
Beyoncé welcomed twins Rumi and Sir
On June 13, 2017 at 5:13 a.m., the Carters welcomed their twin children into the world, according to TMZ. One month later, Beyoncé took to Instagram to share a photo of herself with Rumi and Sir, looking absolutely stunning, clad in ruffles and wearing a veil. Does she even have any bad angles?
But since then, Beyoncé has opened up about how difficult the birthing process was the second time around and the impact it had on her body. "I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir," she revealed in an interview with Vogue. "I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month." Additionally, the twins were delivered via an emergency C-section, and the Carters spent weeks in the NICU. What an intense and harrowing experience!
Taking all that her body had been through into account, Beyoncé spent six months healing, recovering, and embracing her curvier build. "I was patient with myself and enjoyed my fuller curves," she continued. "My kids and husband did, too." We are here for this kind of body positivity!
Beyoncé’s groundbreaking Coachella performance was memorialized in Homecoming
If you were lucky enough to be at Coachella in 2018, chances are you knew how absolutely groundbreaking Queen Bey’s headlining performance was. And if you weren’t, you likely learned about it from the Netflix documentary Homecoming. If you haven’t watched it yet, what are you even doing with your life?
Featuring an HBCU vibe, Beyoncé’s performance was a celebration of Blackness, and everyone who was present was crazy in love. "I swear I felt pure joy shining down on us," she revealed in an interview with Vogue. "I know that most of the young people on the stage and in the audience did not know the history of the Black national anthem before Coachella. But they understood the feeling it gave them." And that feeling was good.
Indeed Beyoncé made history at Coachella 2018, being the first Black woman headliner. "It was a celebration of all the people who sacrificed more than we could ever imagine, who moved the world forward so that it could welcome a woman of color to headline such a festival," she continued. All. Hail. The. Queen.
On the run… again
After Beychella, Bey-Z banded together and embarked on yet another world tour together, On the Run II. They started in Cardiff in the United Kingdom, did a host of dates in Europe, and then headed to the East Coast of the United States, finishing in Seattle on Oct. 4, 2018. Talk about an intense trip!
Fans were treated to some extra special footage on the tour, which showed some intimate and personal family moments. First, you are treated to a very pregnant Beyoncé on vacation, looking fabulous and reading to Blue Ivy. Then there was an adorable shot of Blue Ivy asleep on Jay-Z, which is the most wholesome thing ever. After that, you can see a post-birth Beyoncé cradling the very newborn Rumi and Sir. Then, the topper: footage of Beyoncé and Jay-Z dressed in full wedding attire, appearing to renew their vows. Obviously the crowd was feeling these moments!
Beyoncé’s net worth: "My great-great-grandchildren already rich"
Just as Beyoncé has ascended the ladder into pop culture immortality, so too has she ascended the financial ladder into the world of the very, very rich. According to Forbes magazine, Bey clocked in at No. 51 on the 2019 list of America’s Self-Made Women. Specifically, Mrs. Carter is worth a whopping $400 million, thanks to her tour revenue, her active wear line, and more. She secured the No. 55 position in 2020, with a net worth of $420 million. Congrats, Bey!
But just taking Beyoncé’s wealth into consideration doesn’t really tell the whole story, as she is Mrs. Carter after all, and Mr. Carter’s net worth is almost unbelievable, you guys. In June 2019, an article in Forbes magazine reported that Jay-Z was officially worth over $1 billion — yes billion. And according to a 2021 article, he’s now worth $1.4 billion. That’s thanks mostly to his impressive investment game, which includes holdings in art, real estate, liquor, and stakes in a variety of companies, including Uber. Even Warren Buffett is impressed with Jay-Z’s abilities to increase his net worth. Nice work, Jay!
So when Beyoncé sings, "My great-great-grandchildren already rich," in the song "Boss," you know exactly what she means.
Natural hair for Queen Bey
The world got an unprecedented and up-close look at Beyoncé’s stunning, waist-length, 100 percent natural hair when her mom posted a video to her Instagram page in June of 2019. "I was trimming my baby’s hair today and I am mocking Neal! Getting on her nerves! Being really annoying," she wrote in the caption. She has since deleted it, but fortunately for the loyal citizens of the Beyhive, hairdresser Neal Farinah re-posted on his Instagram page with the caption "WHAT WEAVE WHAT WIG. YES YES ALL NATURAL." Thanks, Neal!
In the video, Tina can be seen brushing through Beyoncé’s long, dark brown and blond-highlighted mane, crooning "au natural, darling!" — much to her daughter’s chagrin. "Mama that’s really annoying… I mean very annoying," Beyoncé responded. And in true mom form, Mama Knowles just laughed it off, and proceeded to do it again. But Tina is, of course, a hairdresser by trade, so maybe she just can’t help but revel in her daughter’s innate beauty. We’re all reveling in it too, Tina!
"I’ve been through hell and back, and I’m grateful for every scar"
Despite the fact that Beyoncé is indeed the queen of music, her journey to the top hasn’t been without obstacles or peril. Fortunately, however, Beyoncé has only gotten stronger because of those difficult experiences. "I’ve been through hell and back, and I’m grateful for every scar," she proclaimed in an interview with Vogue magazine. That’s the very definition of strength.
Queen Bey is also happier now than she’s ever been before, as well as super comfortable in her own skin. "I look at the woman I was in my 20s and I see a young lady growing into confidence but intent on pleasing everyone around her," she continued. "I now feel so much more beautiful, so much sexier, so much more interesting. And so much more powerful." It’s incredible to see just how much she’s grown as a person, performer, and pop culture icon. The world is yours, Bey!
In 2020, Beyoncé dropped Black Is King
Beyoncé proved once again that she’s one of the greatest creative forces of our time in 2020 when she dropped the visual album Black Is King. The ambitious film grew out of videos that she was creating for her album The Gift, but it soon became clear that this was an undertaking of its own. "It took an incredible group of creatives from all around the world, and so many of us were of African descent, telling a part of our own family’s story and its hidden history," she revealed in a chat with British Vogue. "Black Is King was a huge production that employed a large number of brilliant artists who may not typically see themselves working on a Disney project. Until now!"
Beyoncé very deliberately tapped into diverse, undiscovered talent for Black Is King in an effort to showcase their myriad of abilities. "I am hoping this film will show that we all have to make a conscious decision to look into untapped talent in multiple and diverse communities," she added.
This is how Beyoncé coped with the pandemic lockdown
Everyone was impacted by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, even celebrities like Beyoncé. Just like the rest of us, she and her family had to find creative ways to stay occupied, and that included bringing a little of New York Fashion Week into the living room with her kids. "During quarantine, fashion was a place of escape for me," she confessed in an interview with British Vogue. She explained, "Every Friday, we would dress up in my clothes or make clothes together and take each other’s pictures. It became a ritual for us and an opportunity to handle this crazy year together."
But lest you think Beyoncé simply stayed home in her sweatpants the rest of the time, you’d be sorely mistaken. In fact, she made it a point to be extremely generous with her wallet for several causes. She helped set up COVID-19 testing in underserved Houston communities, had supplies and resources sent to a Houston hospital, and donated all of the proceeds from her "Savage" remix with Megan Thee Stallion and "Black Parade" to COVID-19 victims. "It’s been a year of service for me," she added.
Beyoncé made history at the 2021 Grammy Awards
If you needed more proof that Beyoncé is the GOAT when it comes to music, we’ve got you covered: The singer broke a new record at the 2021 Grammy Awards. "History has just been made," presenter Jimmy Jam said just before announcing Beyoncé as the winner of best R&B performance. "Breaking the all-time record for the most Grammy wins ever by any female artist, or any singer, male or female, the Grammy goes to Beyoncé!" Of course, everyone lost it.
A clearly overjoyed Beyoncé took to the stage to accept the historical Grammy, with words of hope and support for Black people everywhere. "It’s been such a difficult time, so I wanted to uplift, encourage, and celebrate all of the beautiful Black queens and kings that continue to inspire me and inspire the whole world," she shared with the audience.
All told, Beyoncé has a whopping 28 total Grammy wins and 79 nominations, according to the Recording Academy. And in case you needed more sugar with that sweetness, Beyoncé’s Blue Ivy Carter won her first Grammy that night for "Brown Skin Girl."