How Beyonce became a pop culture phenomenon

Beyonce’s “Renaissance” film is a monument to the superstar’s perfectionist approach. As always, Queen Bey plays by her own rules.

Beyonce keeps pushing boundaries and rewriting the rules of the music industry, all while embodying empowered self-representation and Black culture.

Released worldwide on December 1, the concert documentary “Renaissance: A Film By Beyonce” not only features the dazzling musical acts of her record-breaking Renaissance World Tour, but also goes behind the scenes to reveal how the show was put together.

Throughout, the film shows how the superstar is the one who calls the shots.

But how did she become such a monument of pop culture in the first place?

An early start
Born in Houston, Texas, on September 4, 1981, Beyonce Giselle Knowles won her first school talent show at age 7.

Two years later, she entered the pop world as part of the all-girls’ group Girls Tyme.

Four Black women in red sexy dresses smile, the band Destiny’s Child.Four Black women in red sexy dresses smile, the band Destiny’s Child.
Beyonce (right) had her first hit with the group Destiny’s Child in 2000Image: Mark Reinstein/MPI/picture alliance
The band failed to meet expectations, but Beyonce’s father left his job as a successful Xerox sales agent to become the girls’ manager. They changed their name to Destiny’s Child in 1996.

It’s with the band that Beyonce won her first two Grammys in 2001, with the single “Say My Name.” A year later, another one of their best-known hits, “Survivor,” also won a Grammy.

Power couple
Beyonce then went solo, first appearing on Jay-Z’s song “O3 Bonnie & Clyde” in 2002 and releasing her album “Dangerously in Love” in 2003. She was the executive producer of her debut solo album and co-wrote most of her songs. Among them was the exuberant single “Crazy in Love,” which also featured Jay-Z. Their collaborations fueled rumors about their romance.

Beyonce, wearing an evening dress, and Jay-Z, wearing a tuxedo.Beyonce, wearing an evening dress, and Jay-Z, wearing a tuxedo.
Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z are among the world’s top power couplesImage: Justin Lane/dpa/picture alliance
They are said to have met in 2000, when Beyonce was 18, on a plane to Cancun to attend the MTV Spring Break festival. They kept details of their relationship private for years. In a secret ceremony, the hip-hop mogul, whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter, married Beyonce — who then became Mrs. Knowles-Carter — on April 4, 2008.

Today, they are the highest-earning couple in Hollywood history, estimated as of November 2023 to have a combined net worth of about $3 billion (€2.7 billion), according to Forbes.

They have collaborated on two world tours, which led them to break the record of the highest-grossing music tour by a duo.

The Carters also released an album together, “Everything Is Love,” in 2018, which explored the ups and downs of their relationship, their fame and wealth, all while tackling issues such as racism and Black pride.

The video to the album’s single “Apes**t” expressed all of those ideas. Shot in the Louvre Museum, with Black dancers taking over the halls filled with iconic art pieces, the ambitious production gave an unusual boost to the Paris venue. It reached a record 10.2 million visitors in 2018 — the most for any museum in history, according to the Louvre.