Beyoncé praised the grace, brilliance and hard work of Michelle Obama, saying the former First Lady “inspires all of us to do better and to be better” in a short essay for Time‘s annual “100 Most Influential People” issue.

At the start of the essay, Beyoncé recalled meeting Obama on the eve of Barack Obama’s first inauguration, remembering how she was “embraced by a warm, regal, confident woman who possessed a reassuring calm.”

“Loving Michelle Obama wasn’t much of a choice,” Beyoncé said. “It was something that came naturally, because of how she carried herself. Because she resembled us and was moving in spaces where, as black Americans, we weren’t exactly meant to be, she seemed so powerful.”

For Beyoncé, Obama projected a potent kind of familiarity — “The way she looked, walked and spoke, in that warm but authoritative tone, we saw our mothers and sisters” — while the pop star also noted her ability to be strong, ambitious and forthright “without sacrificing honesty or empathy.” Citing Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, which promotes continuing education past high school, Beyoncé said, “She empowers all of us to interrogate our fears and surpass greatness.”

“I’m honored to know such a brilliant black woman who’s spoken about the sacrifice it takes to balance her passions while remaining a supportive partner and mother, and now a best-selling author with Becoming,” Beyoncé continued. “She has continued to open herself up, even if it meant being criticized. She has continued to be a portrait of grace.”

Beyoncé and her husband, Jay-Z, have been longtime supporters of the Obamas, especially during President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign (Beyoncé even sang the National Anthem at his second inauguration). The Obamas, in turn, have been vocal fans of the two musicians, placing their songs on various public playlists. Last July, Michelle Obama was even spotted dancing with Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, at a Beyoncé and Jay-Z show in Paris, France.