Wondering if the Texas-born and raised, and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, Beyoncé speaks French? Despite her thick Southern drawl, could this talented superstar be bilingual?
Yes, Beyoncé can speak French. Born to parents of different backgrounds, Beyoncé’s French speaking skills can be attributed to her mother. Celestine “Tina” Knowles is of Louisiana Creole descent inhabitants who share cultural and religious ties with French, Spanish and Louisiana Creole language. Beyoncé has performed in the language to the thrill of her fans. I
At a time where culture is being abandoned, Beyoncé stands out tall and proud to acknowledge her roots. Find out more on her use and appreciation of French in her music in this article.
Where It All Began
The original use of the term Créole was by French settlers. It distinguished persons born in Louisiana from those born in the mother country. Later on, it became a popular term for native-born African slaves. Currently, the term is used to refer to Louisiana-born people and to differentiate them from European immigrants and imported slaves. Sorry for the short History lesson.
Celestine Knowles (Beyoncé’s mother) though born and raised in Texas is proud of her Creole descent and she passed on the same love and passion to her daughter. We recall Beyonce proudly singing about her roots in her hit track, Formation
Tina Knowles’ family roots are from Boutte, Louisiana. Their ancestor was a renowned leader of the indigenous French Acadian group. Their Creole language has elements of French, Spanish and African American roots. The language must have been the unofficial means of communication in the house for Beyonce to have picked up the language. At this point, there is not much information besides her mother’s connection to French. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Beyonce must have learnt a bit of French from her mum.
How Fluent Is Beyoncé’s French?
Most of Beyonce’s songs are done in her unique hip hop, soul, pop (it’s really hard to classify her music) style and are mostly performed in English. However, in the early days of her career, she performed a full piece in French. During the 2005 Oscar awards, Beyoncé sang “Vois Sur Ton Chemin” (Look to your Path) from Les Choristes in one of her performances. The performance was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike with some questioning the inclusion and execution of the song in the day’s activities. However, her performance was delightful as always as can be seen in the video below.
Another reference to her French roots was in the platinum hit “Partition” which was released as part of her album “Beyonce’ in 2013. At the end of the video, one can hear a voice over speaking in French. You can tell outrightly that the person speaking is not Beyonce. The French dirty talking section was recorded by Hajiba Fahmy, one of Beyoncé’s dancers. The statement could be more of her acknowledgment of her roots and less of a display of the mastery of the language. You can listen to the French lines in the video below.
While we cannot conclude that she is still in the learning phases of the language, it has been rumoured that she does not have complete mastery as some may suggest. After all, what may give her an advantage over other people in her shoes is her use of the Creole language that has connections to the French language. What we can say is she still has some skill. Just check out that 2005 video. She sang like a native
Passing on the Baton
Beyonce and Jay Z are keen on the young ones learning to speak the language of love. According to the Sun, one of the requirements for being a nanny to kids was to be a bilingual speaker. “Beyoncé and Jay have started advertising for a nanny who is happy to travel the world with them. The other main stipulation is that she is bilingual.” The power couple has sent out several interviews and are keen to get a nanny who will help pass on the culture to the young one.