Beyoncé is celebrating her 34th birthday today. The mark she’s left on the world of R&B music is undeniable, but this Houston native has always paid tribute to the stars that paved the way before her. Celebrate this pop icon’s #BeyDay by watching her crush 10 cover songs from artists that inspired her own music.
Stevie Wonder Medley
Earlier this year, Beyoncé teamed up with Ed Sheeran and Gary Clark Jr. for a GRAMMY tribute to Stevie Wonder. The trio sang Wonder’s first No. 1 single, “Fingertips Part 1,” “Master Blaster (Jammin’), and “Higher Ground.”
Etta James - “At Last”
After playing Etta James in the 2008 biopic “Cadillac Records,” the ballad “At Last” became one of the most popular cover songs in Beyoncé’s arsenal. She even performed it at President Barack Obama’s inauguration for his first dance with First Lady Michelle Obama.
Tina Turner - “Proud Mary”
Beyoncé first covered Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” when Tina was receiving the Kennedy Center Honors in 2005. Beyoncé revisited the song at the 2008 GRAMMYs when she performed the hit on stage with the legend Turner herself.
Little Willie John - “Fever”
Just after she released her first solo album, Beyoncé starred opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the 2003 comedy film “The Fighting Temptations.” She played a lounge singer in the movie and covered Little Willie John’s classic R&B hit “Fever” for the soundtrack.
Sam Cooke - “A Change Is Gonna Come”
Sam Cooke’s monumental single “A Change Is Gonna Come” is one of the most powerful songs in modern R&B music. Beyoncé put her own spin on the hit at a London benefit concert in 2013.
Barbra Streisand -“The Way We Were”
Musical legend Barbra Streisand got her Kennedy Center Honors in 2008, and Beyoncé was once again on hand at the ceremony to pay tribute. She delivers Babs’ 1973 hit, “The Way We Were,” complete with the signature Streisand beehive.
Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston - “I Will Always Love You”
Whitney Houston’s R&B version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” is one of the most well-known covers the world over. In concert, Beyoncé has been known to mash the song up with her own romantic ballad, “Halo.”
Kings of Leon - “Sex on Fire”
England’s Glastonbury has traditionally been a major event for rock artists, so whenever pop stars are booked for the event, some fans inevitably have some complaints. When Beyoncé was booked for the fest in 2011, she silenced critics with her soulful cover of Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire.”
Jackson 5 - “I Wanna Be Where You Are”
Beyoncé helped celebrate the legacy of the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, in 2011 with a cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are.” Before her performance--which was complete with a spot-on ‘70s afro--she told the crowd that an early Destiny’s Child cover of this song helped the group get its first record deal.
Amy Winehouse - “Back to Black”
Jay Z was executive producer for the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” so it’s no surprise Beyoncé made an appearance on the track listing. With André 3000, Beyoncé delivered an eerie, stripped-down version of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”