British Vogue ended 2020 with an unforgettable cover star for an unforgettable year. In her career spanning almost three decades, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has become a master of multiple professions.
From musician to actress, director, businesswoman and fashion designer, the 39-year-old’s cultural impact remains iconic even throughout hiatus periods. Interviewed by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, the artist talks about the influence of fashion on her recent projects as well as what she deemed her “year of service”.
Her projects have explicitly placed Blackness at the forefront, and Beyonce’s success and commendation for her talents have seen her become a symbol of Black excellence. She has given back by simply striving at what she does.
She is also the most successful artist ever at the VMAs
Throughout her successful career, she has outperformed her counterparts, in terms of awards and cultural capital, with a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to her cultural impact in music, race and even academic study.
Beyonce fronted Destiny’s Child from 1996 until they disbanded in 2002, and has pursued a solo career for the past 18 years. Her musical careers have seen her become one of the most successful vocalists of the century.
The singer’s four-octave vocal range and musical vision have made her the most nominated and second most awarded female artist in the Grammy’s history. She is also the most successful artist ever at the VMAs, BET Awards and Soul Train awards and credited with the rise in ‘visual albums’ used by musicians in recent years.
Beyonce’s projects strive towards giving Black women respect
Beyoncé success is not limited to her singing career. She launched her fashion line, Ivy Park, in 2016 and has since acted as various roles such as portraying Etta James in Cadillac Records and Nala in a live-action remake of The Lion King. Her continued success is impressive. When applying the context of being a young Black woman in several industries dominated and controlled by old white men, Beyoncé coming to be so prolific is an astounding achievement.
Inspired by her children’s birth, she has produced work in which they and other young Black children can see themselves reflected in a positive light. Beyonce’s projects strive towards giving Black women respect and exposure they deserve, and she serves an example. Her music, fashion, hairstyles, make up trends, and whole other areas of popular culture have allowed black beauty to thrive.
Beyoncé has made history by being the first Black woman to headline Coachella, with the whole premise of her Homecoming show centred around the community and culture at HBCUs (historically black college or universities). Majorette dance groups and all Black marching bands graced the stage, placing distinctly African American culture and imagery at the forefront of America’s most well-known musical festival. It is now immortalised in a Netflix documentary.
A celebration of Black culture during a year that has felt dire for the black community
Black is King, her film project, saw the development of an album celebrating African culture, filmed on the continent and seeing collaboration with local creatives. Although catching criticism for not being wholly pan-African and portraying Africa from a Western lens, it was a celebration of Black culture during a year that has felt dire for the black community. This consisted of violence, police brutality and a disproportionate mortality rate at the hand of the Covid-19 pandemic. The images of black joy, beauty and a celebration of their influence on mainstream culture are one that was needed in a year that felt despairing and very anti-Black.
Her collaboration with fellow Houstonian, Megan Thee Stallion, on the Savage Remix saw the duo raise funds for a Covid- 19 relief in their home city during the pandemic. In a similar vein, the track ‘Black Parade’ was a song about Black culture, released on a culturally significant holiday for African Americans at the Black Lives Matter movement’s height. Providing money for small Black-owned businesses during the pandemic via the BeyGOOD initiative, Beyoncé inspired a future generation of artists and provided them with material support during times of hardship.
A consistency to take up space within the world within pop culture, and increasingly over recent years, solely on her terms is how Beyoncé has commanded such power over recent years. It is hard for anyone born in the last 30 years not to have interacted with culture impacted by something Beyoncé has done.