"Living Archives" series

Surprise! More details on Beyoncé and Tina Knowles' University of Houston campus visit

Surprise! More details on Beyoncé and Tina Knowles' University of Houston campus visit

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Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston, with Beyoncé Knowles. Photo via UHpres/yFrog.com
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Gowns that Tina Knowles has designed for her daughter dotted the room Photo by Whitney Radley
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Tina Knowles, right, was interviewed by Joy Sewing. Photo by Stacy Robinson-Newton
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Once students learned that Beyoncé was on campus, they came from all directions. Photo by Whitney Radley
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A tribal-print gown by Tina Knowles was echoed in the Donna Karan spring/summer 2012 collection. Photo by Whitney Radley
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University of Houston’s “Living Archives," an interview series featuring a live conversation with influential Texas women recorded before an audience, is usually a relatively sedate affair. And there seemed to be no reason for thinking that an interview with Tina Knowles at the campus' M.D. Anderson Library Monday would be any different — until word got out that her superstar daughter, Beyoncé Knowles, was in the house.

Students came from all directions on campus to get a glimpse of the singer, who wore a loose print dress that came to the knee — longer than the minis she was photographed in during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and at her recent fragrance launch in New York. The "Living Archives" sessions usually draw an audience of less than 100, but several times that many spectators filled the room and surrounding hallways to get a glimpse of the pregnant singer.

CultureMap contributor Stacy Robinson-Newton was on the scene and filed this first-person report:

"To my surprise and everyone else’s Beyoncé comes walking down the hall with her mom hand-in-hand as I was entering the bathroom!! I told my girlfriend, 'Beyoncé is here' and she said, 'No way.'  I have to say I’ve seen Miss Tina on several occasions at High Fashion looking at fabrics over the years and always say to myself, 'What a beautiful woman.' Well, Beyoncé takes the cake! I don’t know if it’s because she is “glowing” from being pregnant or what, but she looks absolutely amazing.

 "To my surprise and everyone else’s Beyoncé comes walking down the hall with mom hand in hand as I was entering the bathroom!! I told my girlfriend Beyoncé is here and she said, "No way." 

"During an interview with Houston Chronicle fashion writer Joy Sewing, Tina Knowles talked about growing up in Galveston and her childhood memories of her mom and all her sisters and brothers.  She comes from a family of seven and said her fondest memory is going to beach which is also her favorite thing to do when she comes back home to Houston.

"She said she works in New York but she lives in Houston, trying to get 'home' every other week. She loves coming home because everyone is so friendly and the food is so good.  She enjoys cooking and her specialty is “gumbo.” She grew up cooking Creole food and loves it.

"When Sewing asked what she wanted her legacy to be, she replied, 'That I did good things.'

"(Tina Knowles) looked fantastic in a black, fitted, off-the-shoulder dress that complemented all her curves and being a curvy woman myself I truly appreciated it. Beyoncé sat smiling at her mom during the entire interview. However, there was a slight disruption when word got around that Beyoncé was on campus and at the M.D. Anderson Library. Students began to rush the building and chanted, 'Beyoncé, Beyoncé.' That made her blush.

"The interview continued and ended with a series of questions from the audience. Thinking of my own mom and her grandchildren I laughed when Ms. Knowles commented on how she loves being a grandparent and can’t wait for the new one coming.

"The last question from Sewing was, 'When is the maternity line coming?'

"Ms. Knowles looked at Beyoncé and said, 'Soon!'"

A number of gowns that Tina Knowles had created for her daughter and the singing group Destiny's Child, which launched Beyoncé's career, were displayed on mannequins in the room, along with five of her daughter's Grammy awards.

"Tina's is the story of a seamstress and an entrepreneur, and actually her own mother was a seamstress, too. Beyoncé and other family members came because of how important they are to Tina's story," Gregory said. 

Elizabeth Gregory, director of the UH Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies program, stressed the importance of the "Living Archives" interview series in preserving the oral histories of dynamic Houston entrepreneurial women.

"Tina's is the story of a seamstress and an entrepreneur, and actually her own mother was a seamstress, too. Beyoncé and other family members came because of how important they are to Tina's story," Gregory said.

The interview, along with others, will be housed in the newly named Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection. It is named for Shuart, a founding member of the Friends of Women’s Studies, which originated in 1996, and a longtime Houston arts and women’s history supporter.

The archive includes the histories of Houston mayors Kathy Whitmire and Annise Parker and such groups as the Houston Area Women’s Center, Hispanic Women in Leadership, the Association for Women in Science, and Top Ladies of Distinction, an African American philanthropic group.

Perhaps Beyoncé will return one day to tell her story, too.

See a Channel 13 video of Beyoncé's appearance: