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Beyonce Graces the July Cover of ESSENCE

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Beyonce Essence July Cover 2011 260 Jpg

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"I had talked about taking a vacation before, but always ended up in the studio after two weeks, so no one believed me. This time, though, I was serious. I was going to give myself a year to do the things I never get to do. Simple things like play with my nephew, pick him up from school, visit museums, go to concerts, see some Broadway shows, learn to cook a meal and spend time with my husband... Yes, I needed some relaxation, but I wanted inspiration too, from regular everyday things. They did not have to be over-the-top productions. I was looking for tiny moments that would speak to my heart and make me smile..." --Beyonce, ESSENCE

In an ESSENCE exclusive, Beyonce pens her very first cover story, "Eat, Play, Love" -- and in her own words shares how a nine-month break and life's simple pleasures reignited her creativity and renewed her soul.

For years, the only offstage glimpses we've had of the Grammy-winning singer, actress and all-around megastar have been paparazzi snapshots of her living the fabulous life; the yachts, the shopping, the courtside seats with her husband, Jay-Z.

Now, with a new life filled with its own thunder and applause, and on the eve of her fourth solo studio album, "4," she is stepping up to a new kind of power.

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