Beyoncé is one of the most famous names in the world, but even devoted members of the Beyhive may be surprised to learn the origins of this mononym.
In a recent interview on the In My Head With Heather Thomson podcast, Tina Knowles-Lawson, mother to Beyoncé and Solange, opened up about the story behind her eldest daughter's unusual moniker.
"A lot of people don't know that Beyoncé is my last name. It's my maiden name," Knowles-Lawson said. "My name was Celestine Beyoncé, which, at that time, was not a cool thing to have that weird name."
Born in Galveston, Texas as the youngest of seven, Tina also noted that all of her siblings have different spellings of their last name, which is of French creole descent. She and her brother Skip spell it as B-E-Y-O-N-C-E, while the others have it as B-E-Y-I-N-C-E.
Having asked her own mother about the discrepancy, Tina revealed, "My mum's reply to me was that 'That's what they put on your birth certificate'. So I said, 'Well, why didn't you argue and make them correct it?' And she said, 'I did one time, the first time, and I was told to be happy that you [were] getting a birth certificate. Because at one time Black people didn't get birth certificates.'"
According to Knowles-Lawson, that sent a subliminal message. "They didn't even have a birth certificate, because it meant that you didn't really exist. You weren't important," she explained. "And so I understood that that must have been horrible for her, not to even be able to have her children's names spelled correctly."
Tina went on to praise her two daughters for their continued dedication to charity. "[I get] upset when [Beyoncé] gets all this criticism, because she's not the person and Solange is not the person to go and brag about what they do," she said. "They just do it because it was instilled in them at nine and four to give back, to treat people with dignity, to appreciate and respect the people that have less than you."