Beyoncé is the superstar on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar‘s September Issue – The Icon Issue.Beautifully captured by Campbell Addy and styled by Samira Nasr and Marni Senofonte, Beyoncé who turns 40 in September details her journey through every decade of her life in this exclusive interview.
“After more than two decades in the spotlight, Beyoncé has become much more than a pop icon. She’s a cultural force who has routinely defied expectations and transformed the way we understand the power of art to change how we see ourselves and each other. But at 40, she feels like she’s just scratched the surface,” Harper’s Bazaar’ Kaitlyn Greenidge describes the pop star.
Read excerpts from the singer’s conversation with Harper’s Bazaar:
The first decade of my life was dedicated to dreaming. Because I was an introvert, I didn’t speak very much as a child. I spent a lot of time in my head building my imagination. I am now grateful for those shy years of silence.
I was competing in dance and singing competitions at age seven. When I was on the stage, I felt safe. I was often the only Black girl, and it was then that I started to realize I had to dance and sing twice as hard. I had to have stage presence, wit, and charm if I wanted to win.
I started taking voice lessons from an opera singer at nine. By 10 I had already recorded at least 50 or 60 songs in the recording studio. This was before Pro Tools, when you recorded to tape.
I had my first vocal injury at 13 from singing in the studio for too many hours. We had just gotten our first record deal, and I was afraid I had developed nodules and destroyed my voice and that my career could be over. The doctors put me on vocal rest all summer and I was silent once again.
My 20s were about building a strong foundation for my career and establishing my legacy. I was focused on commercial success and number ones and being a visionary no matter how many barriers I had to break through. I was pushed to my limits. I learned the power of saying no. I took control of my independence at 27 and started Parkwood Entertainment.
We live in a world with few boundaries and a lot of access. There are so many internet therapists, comment critics, and experts with no expertise. Our reality can be warped because it’s based on a personalized algorithm. It shows us whatever truths we are searching for, and that’s dangerous.
One day I decided I wanted to be like Sade and Prince. I wanted the focus to be on my music, because if my art isn’t strong enough or meaningful enough to keep people interested and inspired, then I’m in the wrong business. My music, my films, my art, my message—that should be enough.
Throughout my career, I’ve been intentional about setting boundaries between my stage persona and my personal life. My family and friends often forget the side of me that is the beast in stilettos until they are watching me perform. It can be easy to lose yourself very quickly in this industry.
I’ve surrounded myself with honest people who I admire, who have their own lives and dreams and are not dependent on me. People I can grow and learn from and vice versa. In this business, so much of your life does not belong to you unless you fight for it. I’ve fought to protect my sanity and my privacy because the quality of my life depended on it.
A lot of who I am is reserved for the people I love and trust. Those who don’t know me and have never met me might interpret that as being closed off. Trust, the reason those folks don’t see certain things about me is because my Virgo ass does not want them to see it… It’s not because it doesn’t exist!
My mother has always been my Queen and still is. She has always been so strong and is filled with humanity. She worked 18 hours a day with calloused hands and swollen feet. No matter how tired she was, she was always professional, loving, and nurturing. I try to handle my work and run my company in the same way.
My father constantly encouraged me to write my own songs and create my own vision. He is the reason I wrote and produced at such a young age. I remember when I started hearing people criticize me after I had put on some weight. I was 19. None of the sample clothes fit me.
I was feeling a bit insecure from hearing some of the comments, and I woke up one day and refused to feel sorry for myself, so I wrote “Bootylicious.” It was the beginning of me using whatever life handed me and turning it into something empowering to other women and men who were struggling with the same thing.
Fashion can often help to empower us too. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your new IVY PARK collection?
This collection is a mixture of my childhood growing up in Texas and a bit of American history. I grew up going to the Houston rodeo every year. It was this amazing diverse and multicultural experience where there was something for every member of the family, including great performances, Houston-style fried Snickers, and fried turkey legs.
I’m excited that IVY PARK x adidas will now feature kids’ clothing with this drop. On our family vacations, we love to coordinate our outfits. My kids are usually on set with me for shoots, and we’d find ourselves putting them in extra-extra-smalls so we could match. So, it is a natural progression for IVY PARK to introduce a selection of key silhouettes in children’s sizing.
My closest friends are brilliant women who run companies, are entrepreneurs, mothers, wives, and close family. Kelly [Rowland] and Michelle [Williams] are still my best friends. I gravitate toward strong, grounded women like my incredible sister, Solange. She is full of wisdom, and she is the dopest person I know.
There is power in community, and I saw that growing up the daughter of a salon owner. My first introduction to beautiful women was curvy, Texas-bred, bean-and-cornbread-fed goddesses. I was exposed to so many entrepreneurial women that I admired. Doctors, business owners, artists, teachers, mothers—they all came through my mom’s salon.
With all the isolation and injustice over the past year, I think we are all ready to escape, travel, love, and laugh again. I feel a renaissance emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible. I’ve been in the studio for a year and a half.
Sometimes it takes a year for me to personally search through thousands of sounds to find just the right kick or snare. One chorus can have up to 200 stacked harmonies. Still, there’s nothing like the amount of love, passion, and healing that I feel in the recording studio. After 31 years, it feels just as exciting as it did when I was nine years old. Yes, the music is coming!
My wish is for my 40s to be fun and full of freedom. I want to feel the same freedom I feel on stage every day of my life. I want to explore aspects of myself I haven’t had time to discover and to enjoy my husband and my children.
I want to travel without working. I want this next decade to be about celebration, joy, and giving and receiving love. I want to give all the love I have to the people who love me back.
Read the complete article on Harper’s Bazaar.