Beyoncé Knowles is one of the most popular female singers of all time. The Queen B, as some fans have come to call her, has seemingly found fame and success in all she does. In addition to a trophy case full of musical awards, Beyoncé has starred in several movies, launched a fragrance line, and even introduced her own high-end clothing line. Not a bad life’s work for a woman with humble Creole origins.
That’s right; the Queen B is also a creole queen. If you find this hard to believe, the simple fact of the matter is that Beyoncé has a rich creole heritage and it is one that she is not ashamed of in the least. Before dissecting Beyoncé’s link to creole culture it needs to be made clear what it means to be creole.
Many people will look at Beyoncé and simply see an African-American woman. Most would probably stop at that and assume that because Beyoncé is black she cannot also be creole. The biggest misconception about being creole is that it is a race. Creole is not a race like being black or white, but rather it is a description of an individual’s cultural heritage.
Creole refers to a number of different cultural groups. It is hard to pin down one particular culture for creole people, but by and large creole culture comes from the mixing of French, African, and Caribbean cultures. There are various creole languages, cuisines, and even distinct cultures that exist.
In the United States, the most popular creole culture is that which exists in Louisiana. The city of New Orleans possesses one of the largest creole populations in the country, along with a greater region stretching from eastern Texas throughout southern Louisiana. This particular group of creoles can track their heritage to the French and Spanish populations that first colonized the region in the 17th and 18th centuries.
It is from this region of the country that Beyoncé Knowles and her family originated. Her father, Mathew, is of African-American heritage and was born in Houston, Texas. Her mother, Tina, was born in Galveston Texas and boasts a creole heritage including African, Native American and Irish ancestry in her family.
Beyoncé’s creole roots stretch way back on her mother’s side of the family. Tina Knowles’ parents were both born in Louisiana. Tina’s mother, Agnez Dereon, was born in New Iberia, Louisiana. and her father, Lumas Beyince, was from Abbeville Louisiana. Both the Dereons and Beyinces were of French Creole heritage with ancestry stretching through African, French, Native American, Spanish and Indian cultures.
Agnez and Lumas, Beyoncé’s grandparents, have deep creole roots that they passed on to their granddaughter. The parents of Agnez were Eugene DeRouen and Odilia Broussard. Through this line of the family Beyoncé is linked to Joseph Broussard. To many this man may be unknown, but he is well known among Louisiana creoles. Broussard was the man who fought the British in Canada as the leader of the Acadians. Eventually, Broussard led the Acadians to southern Louisiana in 1765 and established the Cajun lifestyle that persists to this day in many corners of the Bayou State.
Not only is Beyoncé a bona fide creole, she is proud of her family’s heritage. Her first name is an adaptation of her maternal grandfather’s surname, Beyince. On top of that, Beyoncé has shown pride in her creole roots through various endorsement deals and business endeavors outside the musical industry.
In 2004, Beyoncé and her mother Tina, who has long been her clothing designer, launched a new designer clothing line that was designed to be affordable yet fashionable. The clothing line was named House of Dereon, a nod to her maternal grandmother, which featured clothing designed by her mother that is described as a “little vintage with a little couture”.
As a spokeswoman for the L’Oreal makeup line, Beyoncé noted that her unique skin tone is a credit to her family heritage and noted that it resembles a “mosaic of all the faces before it.” In so doing, Beyoncé has acknowledged and credited her creole heritage with giving her something as truly unique as her individual skin tone.
Beyond all of this, Beyoncé also recorded a song entitled “Creole.” In the song she admits to having red, yellow, and brown bones and sings of how they mixed together to make her creole.
Contemporary human society tends to view the world through colored lenses, viewing people solely based upon physical appearances and ethnic traits. To view Beyoncé Knowles as simply an African-American woman is to deny the rich creole heritage she and her family possess. Yes, Beyoncé is indeed a strong and beautiful African-American woman, but she is also a creole woman with a rich ancestry that includes nationalities such as French, Spanish, Native American and even Irish. Beyoncé appears to be very proud of her creole heritage, and it is time the world recognised those influences on her life and how they too have helped shape her life and bring her success.