Strip away the flawless makeup, belly-baring fashions and superstar image of Beyoncé Knowles, and you’ll find a down-to-earth young woman who just wants the chance to be herself.

ESSENCE: I’ve heard that you and your mom are rather close. Is that true?

Beyonce Knowles: You know what’s so beautiful about our relationship? Some mothers are your friends, some mothers are strictly your mother, some mothers are both. Some mothers know when to draw the line, some mothers know when to tell you when you’re wrong and when you’re right. Some mothers don’t tell you when you’re right. (My mother) knows when to be my friend. And growing up, she knew when to be my mother.

She was strict but still, she explained things and made things make sense to me so I didn’t feel like she was disciplining me or trying to boss me around. I understood why, which made my life a lot easier. Another thing is she tells me the truth. My mom’s never asked me for anything. My mom doesn’t want anything from me but for me to be happy. And for me to succeed and be as good, as strong, as happy as I can be. So, knowing that, I’m just lucky to have that honesty in my life.

I always felt safe and I always felt secure because I knew that it was going to be okay. I knew it was ’cause my mom knew it was. She always let me know that regardless of this group, regardless of me singing, regardless of the movies, whatever, she loved me. And I’m young and I’m smart and everything I’ve ever wanted to do, I made it happen. So it goes beyond that, like I still have somewhere to go. I still have something else to do, this isn’t the end of the world. And I think … just knowing that, like right now if I never sell another record, it puts a whole ‘nother perspective on this.

Do you think as Black women, we are expected to be superwomen? Even in relationships we are expected to hold it together.

Yeah. Guys are babies sometimes. Like they need you and it’s like, I need you and you are just supposed to drop it. I mean it’s very beautiful when you all are just doing the same thing for each other. But I know you just expect the woman to drop everything and fix it. A woman doesn’t even ask for it because they’re supposed to be strong enough to take care of it.

What is church for you, in the real way?

I completely believe that you don’t have to go to church at all if you are disciplined enough to sit down and dedicate time to pray and get to know God and read the Bible. But me, it’s better for me to go to church because it’s hard to, for real, sit down by myself for that long, as long as I would be just totally committing myself in my house with the TV on and the distractions. It’s way harder to do that than to go to church with a bunch of people who believe in God, where you can just feel it so much more.

Will history still remember you as having the soul of the artist? As opposed to just a girl who sold a lot of records.

I don’t want to be remembered as a member of this huge group that, you know, did whatever. I want to be acknowledged as a woman in a very talented group with great harmonies and great songs that made history and changed the culture of women, not only in America but all over the world. (A woman) who could sing a cappella and write her own songs and produce her own songs.