One of the most eagerly awaited Vogue editions in recent years is finally here.
Beyoncé who took the reins from Vogue US editor-in-chief Anna Wintour to guest edit and feature on the cover of the coveted September issue, has made her mark on the iconic fashion magazine with bold statements about diversity, relationships, motherhood and her ancestry in a powerful personal essay.
The move to feature Beyoncé is a canny move by the seasoned Wintour to stay relevant in an internet age as issues around diversity and representation in art and fashion are increasingly spotlighted.
Last year long-time editor Alexandra Shulman, oft-criticised for failing to promote diversity in her 25-year-rein as Vogue UK editor, resigned to make way for Ghana-born Edward Enninful who has been a champion of featuring diverse models and subjects.
In the essay, the singer pays tribute to the black female entertainers who blazed a path before her like Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Whitney Houston and the importance of paying it forward.
"They opened the doors for me, and I pray that I’m doing all I can to open doors for the next generation of talents," Beyoncé said.
"It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter."
The star also takes aim at the status quo for maintaining a grip on powerful positions by hiring those "who look like them".
"If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose."
Beyoncé also reflects on the legacy of broken relationships in her family and how learning about her family's slave ancestry which included a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave helped her with her own relationship with rapper mogul husband Jay-Z - a relationship that has been plagued by reports of infidelity.
"I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes us both bruised and beautiful," she said.
The September cover, considered the most prestigious of the fashion season, is the first in the magazine’s history to be shot by a black photographer, Tyler Mitchell, reportedly hired at the direction of Beyoncé.
In the issue, the singer talks about her historic Coachella performance and being the first black woman to lead the music festival. She reveals the inspiration for singing 'Lift Every Voice and Sing', considered America's black national anthem, came from a personal moment with her youngest daughter Rumi.
“One day I was randomly singing the black national anthem to Rumi while putting her to sleep. I started humming it to her every day... After a few days of humming the anthem, I realised I had the melody wrong.. One of the most rewarding parts of the show was making that change. I swear I felt pure joy shining down on us," she said.
"It was a celebration of all the people who sacrificed more than we could ever imagine, who moved the world forward so that it could welcome a woman of colour to headline such a festival.