Mathew Knowles Visits His Hometown of Gadsden, AL
By Matthew Martin
Gadsden Times Features Editor
Mathew Knowles has been around the world and seen a lot of beautiful places. However, nothing prepared him for what he saw Friday upon returning back to the town where he grew up.
The Houston-based, and Gadsden-raised, owner of Music World Entertainment came home late last week to catch up on old times and see family.
But it was the surroundings that caught his attention upon his return to town.
“Coming back, I was immediately taken back by the beauty of the city,” Knowles said. “You don't notice these things as a child, so I never saw that (the natural surroundings). It brought up a lot of emotions.”
Some of those emotions — and possibly why he did not notice Northeast Alabama's natural beauty growing up — was his bittersweet childhood, growing up during the Civil Rights era.
Knowles said growing up during that time period always has stuck with him and has helped him become the success he is today.
“Growing up during desegregation, and being one of the first African-Americans to go to Litchfield, that has always had a lasting impact on me,” Knowles said. “I was also one of the first African-Americans to attend Gadsden High School, so I look back on it as wonderful life lessons.”
While back in his hometown, Knowles took an opportunity to see Gadsden City High School, touring the facilities.
One of the highlights of the tour was walking on the quad and seeing his and his daughters' names on bricks that make up the sidewalk. And while his daughters' names might be a little more familiar to the average household — Beyoncé and Solange — Mathew Knowles has most certainly carved out his niche in the music world, too.
His Music World Entertainment group is made up of a country label, Compadre Records, an up-and-coming Music World Gospel label and a rapidly rising clothing line.
Knowles said he was proud of how far he had come in the world, but he wants his life to inspire others to do the same, if not greater.
“I hope it's a lesson for all, regardless of one's surroundings, you can be successful,” he said.
The drive for his own life came from sports and those who coached him in his youth. Knowles named coaches Gil Riddle and John Bostick as two who pushed him to the limit and continue to inspire him to try even harder today.
It was sports that gave Knowles a sense of self, he said.
“It was the challenges, working together to overcome those challenges, the teamwork and trust, believing in each other. Sports was a very exciting time in my life,” Knowles said.
His business ventures aside, what excites Knowles now is the success his daughters are having in their own lives.
Beyoncé is possibly the most popular singer in the world, selling out shows around the globe. And when she is not promoting her own music, she can be seen in movies, magazines or by the side of her A-list husband, music mogul and rapper Jay-Z.
Kelly and Solange have music careers that consistently have their names at the top of the charts, too. And when they were together in Destiny's Child, that name was setting the music world on fire, as well.
All of which just made Knowles' smile get larger, even when the former sports star missed jump shots while in the Gadsden City gymnasium.
“Everywhere I go, I tell people I'm from Gadsden,” he said. “Even with all this (success), I came from Gadsden. I'm proud to talk about where I'm from.”