Beyoncé as ‘Mother’: Here’s how she celebrates motherhood on and off stage

This is what fans all over the world have affectionately dubbed Beyoncé. Whether “mother” or “muva,” the notion is the same.

In fact, the global superstar was declared “Mother of the Year” for 2023 by Grindr, which surveyed over 10,000 users on the popular LGBTQ+ dating app. Using the term “mother” in this way stems from LGBTQ+ ballroom culture; it indicates Beyoncé is a fierce but caring leader of a fandom.

Beyoncé, however, first assumed the title of mother in 2012 when she and Jay-Z welcomed their first daughter, Blue Ivy, who turns 12 on Sunday.

Either way the title is interpreted, Beyoncé has brought motherhood to the forefront of her career.

Beyoncé and femininity
Riché Richardson, professor of African American literature at Cornell University and the Africana Research Center, created a class called “Beyoncénation” to explore her impact on sectors including fashion, music, business, social justice and motherhood.

“Beyoncé has made a profound impact on national femininity,” she says. “It’s interesting because traditionally for Black women, there’s been this sense that there are certain hardships that they have encountered [and therefore] marriage and education have been seen as being mutually exclusive.”

Richardson said people sometimes ask whether it’s possible for Black women to have it all.

“What is different and exceptional about a newer generation, including people like Beyoncé, is that they don’t necessarily see marriage as an obstacle to success or their well-being as women,” she says. “In fact, they link it intimately to their possibilities for well-being.”

Beyoncé performs onstage during the RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR
It’s a more optimistic view that Black women can make an impact in a range of ways, as professionals and as mothers, Richardson says.

Erik Steinskog, associate professor of musicology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, echoed the same ideas through an international lens.

Steinskog was compelled to create a Beyoncé course back in 2017 centered on race and gender.

“I, at the time and still, see Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ as one of the masterpieces of the 21st century of music,” he says. “I wanted to introduce Black feminism to my students as sort of a contrast to how feminism is often perceived in Europe.”

Motherhood on the main stage
Richardson says Beyoncé has always been a renaissance woman and that is emphasized with her latest “Renaissance” album.

Richardson attended the Renaissance World Tour in Atlanta and says woven throughout the concert was a loud embrace of motherhood.

Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy danced front and center during her mother’s performance of “Black Parade” and “My Power,” which includes the lyric “that’s my bloodline on the frontline.”

For Richardson, witnessing Beyoncé proudly immersed in mother mode in the middle of her performance was a remarkable part of the show.

“To see [Blue Ivy] with my own eyes come out and to realize that she was just leading, I thought it was about the scripture and ‘the little child shall lead them.’ And tears came to my eyes,” she says. “That was definitely the most moving part for me.”

Steinskog says Beyoncé includes motherhood in a “spectrum” of feminine roles.

“What she wants to do is sort of highlight a number of different ways to be to be a woman or be feminine, including queer femininity, trans femininity,” he says.

The “Renaissance” film, which focuses on Beyoncé’s family and the inner workings of the Renaissance World Tour, is an extension of this idea. The “Cuff It” signer opens up about balancing her career and being a mother, and gracefully prevailing.

In the film she says, “to balance motherhood and being on the stage, it just reminds me of who I really am.”

Trumpet player Crystal Torres also had a powerful presence on the tour and in the film. Torres performed alongside Beyoncé while visibly pregnant. In the film, Beyoncé highlighted Torres as a mother and musician.

Beyonce Knowles, left, arrives on the red carpet with her sister Solange, center, and mother Tina to announce the Canadian launch of her junior apparel collection “Dereon” in Toronto, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2007.