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Beyoncé Knowles and Blue Ivy Carter: Fabulous and Fierce

When Beyoncé was little, it took a lot for her to find her confidence and her voice. With time, she danced and sang her way into becoming one of the most successful musicians of all time. Her 10-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, is now standing right beside her, singing and speaking out about the beauty and power of Black girls everywhere.

This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This story was produced by Haley Dapkus with sound design and mixing by Mumble Media. It was written by Alexis Stratton and edited by Abby Sher. Fact-checking by Joe Rhatigan. Narration by Doreen Oliver. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. Thank you to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this podcast possible. Stay rebel!

Transcript

Beyoncé Knowles was born in 1981, and grew up surrounded by music.

Her parents sang gospel, soul, and R&B all over the house. On Sunday evenings after dinner, they pulled out their record collection. Beyoncé, her parents, and her little sister Solange moved and grooved to all their favorites, like Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin. Beyoncé loved singing and sashaying across the living room floor.

At home, she felt like a superstar. But once she stepped outside, she was extremely shy.

Growing up in Houston Texas, Beyoncé felt like she didn’t fit in. Kids teased her because of her light brown skin and big ears. Others made fun of her unusual name.

She didn’t speak up in class and didn’t have many friends. So when Beyoncé was seven, her parents signed her up for dance classes, hoping it might give her a place to have fun.

One day after dance class, Beyoncé was waiting for her ride home. Her teacher, Miss Darlette, was sweeping and singing a tune. Beyoncé knew the song and hummed along.

Beyoncé hit all the notes—perfectly.

Miss Darlette was shocked. She gushed to Beyoncé’s parents, “She can sing. She can really sing!”

After that, Beyoncé’s signed up for a local talent show. She was going to sing “Imagine” by John Lennon. She went over the song again and again until she knew every note, every word, every move that she was going to make on stage. 

But when the day of the show arrived, Beyoncé was terrified.

She felt her heart hammering inside her chest and her whole body got hot. As she walked slowly to the microphone, the room started spinning all around her. She squinted out at the audience, trying to find her parents and Miss Darlette, but the spotlights were so bright she couldn’t see a thing.

 So Beyoncé took a deep breath and imagined reaching inside herself, to where she knew the music lived. She could feel it coursing through her veins. She took hold of that microphone, stared straight ahead, and belted out,

Imagine all the people, living for todayyyyyy!

The audience was stunned by this seven-year-old in the spotlight. Her voice was mesmerizing, lifting them up and carrying them into a beautiful world of peace and hope.

When Beyoncé hit the last note of the song, the room filled with wild applause. Beyoncé grinned and bowed, still shaking as she walked off the stage. 

Once all the other performers were finished, the judges gathered to tally their scores. One judge stepped up to the mic, and with a flourish announced the winner of the talent show. She couldn’t believe her ears. Beyoncé. Knowles!

From that moment on, Beyoncé knew that she had to perform.

She felt like when she was onstage, she found a wild courage and strength that she wanted to share with everyone. So, she got serious about training with a vocal coach. Her parents spent hours helping her practice too. Beyoncé’s mom, Tina made her beautiful costumes to wear for talent shows and competitions. They even built a big stage in their backyard!

Beyoncé kept wowing the audiences every time she opened her mouth. Within a year, she had trophies lining her bedroom walls. Some were even taller than she was!

When Beyoncé was nine, two talent scouts asked her to try out for a new singing group. Beyoncé walked into that audition and blew the judges away with her dazzling voice and her smile that seemed to fill the whole room. It was clear she was star material.

Beyoncé’s new group was called Girl’s Tyme. They got to work right away, coming up with lyrics and harmonies, and rehearsing complicated dance numbers. Whenever they felt ready, they went down to Beyoncé’s mom’s hair salon, Headliners. As clippers hummed and scissors snipped, the girls spun and leapt and sang, testing out their new routines on the customers. 

There was no doubt that they were dedicated and talented. Soon they were getting rave reviews at every talent show and local gig. But what they really wanted was a record deal. 

After they’d practiced together for two years, the group got to go on a popular TV talent show called Star Search. This was their big chance to perform in front of a huge live audience, and millions more would be watching them on TV!

If they won, they’d get national attention, and most likely a record deal, too.

When the day of the show came, the girls danced out onto the stage in their purple, green, and white costumes, and the audience filled them with excitement and energy.

They heard the host announce them: “Welcome Beyoncé , LaTavia, Nina, Nikki, Kelly, and Ashley, the hip-hop rappin’ Girl’s Tyme!”

 They sang, they rapped, they danced—they felt like they were on fire! And when they hit their final poses, the crowd went nuts, cheering and clapping.

 But a few minutes later, the results were announced—and Girl’s Tyme lost to another rock band. Beyoncé and her crew could not believe it. They burst into tears and went home, heartbroken.

That first loss was really difficult for Beyoncé and her band. So, they doubled down and practiced even harder — running laps in the Texas heat while singing, so they could improve their stamina. They did all their dances in high heels, even when their feet got blistered and bruised.

They reinvented themselves with a new sound and a new name. The next time they auditioned for a record deal, they announced that they were now called Destiny’s Child. Then they launched into breath-taking dance routines and hip hop melodies that made everyone want to join in on the fun.  

After years of rehearsing and performing, Destiny’s Child got a deal with Columbia Records! Things moved quickly after that, and the group recorded an album right away. They had a blast, putting together powerful lyrics and syncopated rhythms that were confident and smooth. 

One day after they were done recording, Beyoncé and a couple of her bandmates were driving along, listening to the radio. Suddenly, they heard a familiar song.

 It was their song!

Beyoncé slammed on the brakes and pulled over.

They cranked up the volume, jumped out of the car, and ran around, singing and shouting with joy! They had done it! They had made their dreams come true!

After that, Destiny’s Child put out two more albums that were huge successes. In fact, when they released their third, it started at number one on the Billboard chart and, within a week, it sold 663,000 copies!

Destiny’s Child loved performing together, but they each had dreams of singing on their own. So, even though they were having huge success together, they decided to take a break from the group to see if they could launch solo careers.

Going out alone was a big step, but Beyoncé knew she had to do it. She thought about that first talent show when she was just seven years old, reaching inside herself to find the music…

Imagine all the people, living for todayyyyyy!

She had to give that little girl a chance to show her stuff. To become her fiercest, most fabulous self.

It was terrifying and terrific; exhausting and exhilarating. Beyoncé spent months writing and rewriting, learning new chords and rhythms, daring herself to try new sounds. She brought together a team of the most talented writers and producers in the industry to help her too — combining elements of soul, hip hop, reggae and R&B. 

In June, 2003, Beyoncé released her first solo album. It was called Dangerously in Love, and it was clear she’d poured her heart and soul into every word. She had slow ballads about trusting in love and dance songs about being proud of her womanhood. 

Dangerously in Love was a big win. It debuted at number one on the US billboard chart, and got tons of praise and awards. People started singing Beyoncé’s songs on the streets. They called her a feminist icon and leader. She got cast in hit movies and her face was on the cover of lots of magazines. 

Beyoncé was just getting started though. Her songs got gutsier. In her next few albums, she sang about heartbreak and pulling herself back up; about women standing up for themselves and demanding respect. 

She took the world by storm with hits like “Single Ladies (Put A Ring on It)” and “Run the World (Girls).” And her performances became the most popular events worldwide!

She strutted on stage in sparkling sequined bodysuits, her long hair flowing behind her like a superhero’s cape. 

“LADIES! OUR REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN!” she shouted into the audience, before leaping into the most complicated dance moves — shimmying and lunging as she filled the venue with her brilliant energy. Sometimes she even roared at the crowds! 

Soon, Beyoncé was a household name. She headlined the Grammy Awards and sold out concerts around the globe. She became an inspiration for women everywhere to find themselves and free themselves from whatever might try to hold them back.

In 2009, she was asked to perform at Barack and Michelle Obama’s inaugural ball. It was such an incredible moment, with the first Black president ever elected in the United States, and his wife, who of course is a rebel girl herself — celebrating this historic moment. 

Beyoncé stood just a few feet away from them in a long satiny gown and sang a song about dreams coming true and finding your heart’s desire. It felt like she was singing not just about the President, but about herself and this new era of hope.

But there was one thing missing from Beyoncé’s life. One big thing. Beyoncé really wanted to be a mother. She had such admiration for her mom, and wanted to share that connection with a child of her own.

In 2008, Beyoncé married rapper and record executive Shawn Carter, also known as Jay-Z. And four years later, the couple had their first child—a daughter named Blue Ivy.

As Beyoncé says, “Something cracked open inside of me right after giving birth…From that point on, I truly understood my power, and motherhood has been my biggest inspiration. It became my mission to make sure she (Blue Ivy) lived in a world where she feels truly seen and valued.”

Just as Tina danced and sang with Beyoncé, Beyoncé danced and sang with her little girl, too! Blue Ivy loved boogying through their living room and making silly videos with both her parents. And Blue definitely had the music in her bones! When she was five years old, her dad, Jay-Z recorded her doing an amazing freestyle rap with all her own words and ideas. 

Then, Jay-Z produced an animated video to go with it.

The video starts with a cartoon version of Blue Ivy stepping onto stage in a ballerina costume. The audience is waiting for her to twirl and leap in her pink, frilly, tutu. But instead, a microphone falls into her tiny hand and she starts rapping!

Never seen a ceiling in my whole life…

Boom shakalaka, boom shakalaka 

The fans adored her. People raved about how fun and fresh and powerful she sounded at just five years old!

As for Beyoncé – who was now known throughout the world as Queen Bey [BEE]! – motherhood really did crack her open, and she had a new power in her voice, her songs, and the messages she was sharing with the world.

As a mother, raising Blue Ivy and soon her little brother and sister, Beyoncé managed to create and release some of the most influential music in history.

Beyoncé sang about the beauty of the female body. About the incredible strength it takes to give birth and the glow you can see in every female spirit. In a wild and memorable guest performance at the Superbowl half-time show in 2016, Beyoncé caught everybody’s attention, coming out in a leather bodysuit and dancing with a troop of women, while columns of fire rose behind them. She commanded women everywhere to love themselves, to honor themselves, to own their power.

That same year, she shocked the world by releasing an album called “Lemonade” about her personal journey with marriage. But it wasn’t just about her. Like many of her songs, “Lemonade” explored race, gender, betrayal, and the constant fight for freedom.

As she sang, “I break chains all by myself.” 

She was so much more than a performer now. When she charged onto a stage or arena to sing, everybody got up and started dancing and singing too. Crying tears of joy. Even worshipping her! It was like she was waking the world up to the fire that’s inside us all.

For Blue Ivy, it was magical to watch her mom perform. Blue saw how making music was more than a job. It was a passion that rushed through Beyoncé and lit her up from the inside. And Blue wanted to be a part of that magic too.

So one day, when Blue Ivy was seven, Beyoncé asked her to record a song together!  Blue was thrilled, and of course, more than a little jittery. She sat next to her mom on a big white couch as they went through the song.

“Brown skin girl,” Beyoncé sang, “your skin just like pearls …”

Beyoncé and Blue didn’t want a lot of instruments in the song, just some piano chords and African rhythms and drums. That way, their words and their message could be loud and clear: this song was going to be a celebration of their heritage, shouting out to the world, Look how beautiful my brown skin is! 

When they went to the music studio, Beyoncé pulled a big microphone in front of Blue and hit record. Blue had butterflies in her belly, and her breath quickened, but with her mom beside her, she knew she could do it! 

She listened to the drums, steady and sure. She felt her mom’s soft skin touching hers. And when Blue opened her mouth, she found her voice, low and velvety:

When Blue finished, Beyoncé was so impressed! So was the world. Blue won a ton of awards, including a Grammy!

But more importantly, she felt honored to step into the spotlight with her mom. To be part of this amazing lineage of fierce, brown-skinned women who are leading the world with truth-telling and art.

Both Beyoncé and Blue continue to redefine what it means to be a Black woman, to be an artist, to be a leader. They break barriers with their music. And together, they are dedicated to encouraging people everywhere – especially rebels like you – to find their voices and to always believe in themselves.