Bow Down, Bitches: A Quick Timeline Of How Beyoncé Became Beyoncé

There's only one queen and her name is Yoncé.

Beyoncé, no last name required, needs no introduction but I’ll give you one anyway. She’s the winner of 22 Grammy awards, the highest-paid black musician in history (and the current highest paid female artist), 2017’s most powerful woman in music, and is worth over $350 million. All impressive, sure, but what’s really interesting about Queen Bey is the way she’s managed to captivate us all. There’s just something about her that transcends other celebrities. Her name in itself is a compliment, commanding the essence of fierceness, power, and independence.

But why? Why is Beyoncé the person Kanye West will storm a stage for, the person Saturday Night Live insist everyone must love, the person Michael Scott aspires to be?

Beyoncé has been a committed performer since she was a child, rapping and dancing as part of a group called Girl’s Tyme in her native Houston, Texas. If you’re familiar with the song ***Flawless, and especially its music video, you’ll know that the group entered a talent contest but came second to the reigning male winners. Pretty crazy in hindsight but the venture shows how long Beyoncé has been involved in the music game, and her refusal to be put down. Girl’s got perseverance!

With fellow Girl’s Tyme members Kelly Rowland and LaTivia Roberson, Beyoncé went on to form a new incarnation of the group, eventually called Destiny’s Child. Their breakthrough came with the single Bills, Bills, Bills which reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and demonstrates just how early Beyoncé’s message of female empowerment began. Here’s a group of young, black women, singing about financial independence, on the top of the charts. How badass is that?

After some jigging around, Destiny’s Child became the iconic trio we think of today – Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and newbie Michelle Williams. Another significant moment came when their song Independent Woman was featured in the Charlie’s Angel soundtrack. A blockbuster film about three female spies underscored the themes of the song, truly cementing Destiny’s Child as a girl power group.

 

In the mid 200s, Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle took some time to focus on solo projects which is when Bey was able to do what so few group performers have – carve out an even more successful solo career, producing classic hits like Crazy In Love and Single Ladies. She also dipped her toes into the acting pool, taking on a role in Dreamgirls, a film about a groundbreaking female group which displays not only her many talents but her commitment to the female empowerment narrative.

In 2008, Beyoncé released the album Sasha Fierce, named after the alter ego she assumes on stage. This revealed a note of vulnerability in the otherwise fiery facade – who knew Beyoncé needed any help with her powerful stage presence? Since then, Beyoncé’s become so ‘fierce’ herself that she rarely refers to Sasha and instead we regular folk pretend to be Beyoncé to get through the stresses of everyday life (i.e. waltzing into a job interview or summoning the courage to answer the door to the Deliveroo guy).

Now, in no way are we suggesting that being linked to a man furthered Bey’s career, but everyone loves a good power couple and Beyoncé and rapper/mogul Jay-Z are just that. Who else could Beyoncé be with but one of the biggest names in music? The couple continually slay with lavish holidays, incredible Halloween costumes, and joint tours and albums.

Another show of Beyoncé’s power is her (possibly actual magical) ability to maintain privacy and control information even in today’s celebrity-obsessed world. She rarely does interviews or chats with reporters on the red carpet and has also announced both her pregnancies in dramatic, Beyoncé fashion without even a hint of a leak, first at the end of that MTV Video Music Awards performance in 2011, and again last year when she took to Instagram to declare she was due twins (because the Queen couldn’t just gift us with one child, could she now?). And who could forget the albums she dropped in the middle of the night, like last week’s Everything Is Love? Just imagine having the ability to not only rent out the Louvre but command enough respect that no one says a word.

Instagram/beyonce

After cancelling her 2016 Coachella performance last year due to her pregnancy, Beyoncé took to the Californian stage in April this year for what some are labelling the performance of her career. Why? Firstly, because she’s the first black woman to ever headline the festival. Secondly, because her already spectacular setlist included appearances from superstar sister Solange, hubby Jay-Z, and a Destiny’s Child reunion.

And finally, because of the political statements she made, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s listened to ***Flawless, which features an extract of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ speech, or seen the Formation video in which she’s seen sinking a police car into the waters of Louisiana (an image that suggests the neglect of black people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, those lost in the Atlantic, and the current Black Lives Matter movement). Beyoncé emerged on the stage in a Nefertiti costume by Balmain and played further homage to the Egyptian queen and her own association with royalty by holding a gold staff.

It was here that her celebration of black expression began; her set featured performances by the New Orlean’s Rebirth Brass Band, a homage to historically black colleges and universities through pledge rituals and her now-iconic jumper (she also donated $100,000 to four historically black colleges and universities through her BeyGOOD initiative as well as creating a number of scholarships), a rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing (commonly known as the black national anthem) and tributes to black activists such as Malcolm X and Nina Simone. Talk about a showstopper!

Instagram/beyonce

So there you have it; why Bey is the star of our times. From the beginning she’s been an advocate for female power, slayed in both the music and acting world, superseded even her own confidence-boosting alter ego, carefully maintained privacy and control of information that always makes sure everything is on her terms, and gifted us with jaw-dropping performances with important messages. She’s a woman who, instead of being afraid of power as we’ve conditioned to be for so long, wields hers for good. Long may she reign.

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