Beyoncé's latest album Renaissance is a musical ode to a dear family member, her late Uncle Johnny.
Ahead of Renaissance's release on Friday, Beyoncé published a rare open letter to her fans where she shared that the project was dedicated to not only her queer fanbase, but specifically her late relative who she says opened her eyes to the world of house music. Renaissance masterfully explores the worlds of house, disco, and dance through its 16 tracks.
"A big thank you to my Uncle Jonny. He was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album," wrote Beyoncé in the note to fans. "Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long. This is a celebration for you."
Dedicated members of the Beyhive know however that Renaissance isn't the first time Beyoncé has mentioned her late uncle and his influence on her career. Below, is everything we know about Bey's beloved Uncle Johnny.
In a moving Instagram post, Beyoncé's mother Tina Knowles-Lawson shared memories of her close friendship with her nephew, Johnny.
"Johnny was the closest human being in the world to me we were inseparable growing up ! Later He was my nanny / housekeeper / designer / Dance partner / confident and bestie," wrote Knowles-Lawson. "I laughed constantly with him and trusted him unconditionally! When he died a piece of me went with him. Solange and Beyoncé worshiped him. He helped me raise them. And influenced their sense of style and uniqueness!"
“He was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting. Witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived,” she said at the time. "I’m hopeful that his struggle served to open pathways for other young people to live more freely. LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights."
Tina Knowles-Lawson also revealed in her dedicated post to Johnny that he assisted her in helping build Beyoncé and Destiny's Child early wardrobes, including Bey's own prom dress. Beyoncé even gave a verbal nod to her relative in her song "Heated," writing "Uncle Johnny made my dress / That cheap spandex, she looks a mess."
Beyoncé shared that her Uncle Johnny introduced her to the music that would go on to inspire Renaissance, but her mother also reiterated the same sentiment.
"Johnny loved house music! And introduced my kids to it early on," said Knowles-Lawson of her late nephew.