Playing R+B legend Etta James in new movie CADILLAC RECORDS gave Beyonce the strength to be a "natural woman".
The former Destiny's Child star admits her portrayal of the troubled singer in the film inspired her new look.
She explains, "She gave me a better understanding of who I am. Half of my new album is called I Am and on the cover I wore minimal make-up. It looks very natural, very vulnerable, very stripped down."
And Beyonce reveals James' spirit is now surging through everything she does: "Playing Etta James gave me the confidence to be fearless and I felt like I could sing whatever I wanted and sing about things that I really cared about; not just something you could play on the radio or make a nice video, but something that had substance.
"Etta James was one of the first African-American women to cross over on the radio and she made it possible for me to succeed."