There are icons, legends, phenomenons and then there’s Beyoncé – a larger-than-life entity worshiped by a large population called the ‘beyhive’ that can culminate into a country by it itself. She may have started out as the frontwoman for the ’90s favourite girl band Destiny’s child, but her real rise to fame begun when she dropped her solo album Dangerously in love in 2003.
Ever since then, Bey has topped Billboard charts; broken Grammy records with a staggering 79 nominations (winning 24 of them) and acted in a number of noticeable films. Her music over the years has evolved from highlights of her love life to now shifting the spotlight on political, social and cultural issues that root back to her community and ethnicity. While we know that Beyoncé has championed the art of audio-visually painting a powerful story through her music, but there’s more to her contribution than changing the tides in the world of pop, country, and R&B. On her 40th Birthday, let’s look at her body of work that cemented her as the multi-hyphenate that she is.
1. Feminist Icon
In 2008 when Beyoncé released her popular song Who Run The World (Girls) she was quite literally declaring it. As an agent of change, her videos were now positioning women of colour in action as dancers, choreographers and music collaborators – taking back the power from patriarchy. In 2013, when she became the second black female artist to perform at the Super Bowl halftime she brought the house down will all-female band members and backup dancers. In the same year, she partnered with Chime for Change, a global campaign to raise funds and create awareness around subjects like education, health and justice for girls.
2. Business Savy
According to Forbes, Beyoncé ranked as the third highest-paid paid female musicians list and secured the 51st spot on its list of America’s Wealthiest Self-Made Women. Her estimated net worth was $400 million–500 million in 2018 (minus that of Jay-Z). The list of ventures she co-pilots and leads include self-produced music records, a music streaming service, a hefty and long-running contract with Pepsi and L’Oreal as a model and spokesperson, fashion label Ivy Park and a film production house called Parkwood Entertainment. Last year in November, Beyoncé joined hands with exercise equipment and media company Peloton. They came together to celebrate homecoming season in historically black colleges and universities, providing themed workout experiences inspired by Beyoncé’s 2019 Homecoming film and live album.
3. Force In Fashion
Beyoncé in Falguni Shane Peacock
Another area where Beyoncé reigns supreme is fashion. She aced Y2K, revolutionised stage costumes, revived what maternity style was perceived to be, and took the red carpet game to a whole new level. From her Destiny’s Child day Queen-B rocked that backless halter, cowboy metallic boots, low-waist jeans and frosted lips like no other, serving just the right amount of glamour. Thigh-high bodysuits with laced-up sky-high heels became her signature attire on stage and also the ultimate pop star uniform. Who can forget her 2011 VMAs pregnancy announcement in a sparkly suit? To top it all, she manages to weave in black history while walking the red carpet in iconic ensembles. The Lemonade singer wore an exaggerated gold gown by Indian designer Falguni Shane Peacock, which was inspired by the Nubian warrior queen.
4. Black Lives Advocate
Beyoncé and her husband quietly donated thousands of dollars for the release of the Black Lives Matter protesters in Baltimore and Ferguson. She went a step ahead and also funded the infrastructure for the Black Lives Matter establishments across the country. Ahead of her Super Bowl performance in 2016, she surprised the audiences by releasing Formation with an act that targeted black community issues like Hurricane Katrina and the police shootings. Behind the scenes, she also held private meetings with more than 20 community leaders to discuss her role in supporting local charitable initiatives and funding scholarships to provide students with financial aid.