BeyoncÃ© Giselle Knowles (born September 4, 1981), best known mononymously as BeyoncÃ© (pronounced /bi???nse?/), is an American R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, choreographer, video director, actress and model. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she enrolled in various performing arts schools and was first exposed to singing and dancing competitions as a child. Knowles rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of the girl group Destiny’s Child. Knowles has sold more than 50 million records worldwide with the group and over 75 million records in her total career.
In June 2003, during the hiatus of Destiny’s Child, Knowles released her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, which became one of the most successful albums of that year, and signaled her viability as a solo artist. The album was a commercial and critical success, spawning the hits “Crazy in Love”, “Baby Boy”, and earning Knowles five Grammy Awards in 2004. The disbanding of Destiny’s Child in 2005 facilitated her continued success: her sophomore solo album, B’Day, released in 2006, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, and produced the hits “Deja Vu”, “Irreplaceable”, and “Beautiful Liar”. Her third solo album, I Amâ€¦ Sasha Fierce, was released in November 2008, and included the hits “If I Were a Boy”, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, “Halo” and “Sweet Dreams”. Knowles has attained five Hot 100 number one singles, becoming one of the two female artists with the most number ones attained within the 2000s. She is also the female artist with the most cumulative weeks at number one this decade, with 37 total weeks at number one, the most top fives and the most top ten hits this decade with twelve, as well as the most top 40 hits of the decade with 17 top 40 hits.
The success of her solo albums has established Knowles as one of the most marketable artists in the music industry, and she has expanded her career to acting and product endorsement. She began her acting career in 2001, appearing in the musical film Carmen: A Hip Hopera. In 2006, she starred in the lead role in the film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls, for which she earned two Golden Globe nominations. Knowles launched her family’s fashion line, House of DerÃ©on, in 2004, and has been engaged to endorse such brands as Pepsi, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and L’OrÃ©al. In 2009, Forbes listed Knowles fourth on its list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential Celebrities in the world, third on its list of the top-grossing musicians, and number one on the list of top Best-Paid Celebs Under 30 with over $87 million dollars in earnings between 2008 and 2009.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Mathew Knowles, a successful record manager, and Tina BeyincÃ©, a costume designer and hair stylist. Knowles’ father is African American and her mother is of Creole (African American, Native American, and French) descent. Knowles was baptized after her mother’s maiden name, as a tribute to her mother and to prevent the name from becoming obsolete, since only a few of the BeyincÃ© males carry the name. Her maternal grandparents, Lumis Albert BeyincÃ© and AgnÃ©z DerÃ©on, were French-speaking Louisiana Creoles. She is the elder sister of Solange, a singer-songwriter and actress.
Knowles was schooled at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Texas, where she enrolled in dance classes, including ballet and jazz. Her talent in singing was discovered when her dance instructor began humming a song and she finished it, hitting the high-pitched notes. Although a shy girl, as her mother considered her, Knowles’ interest in music and performing began unexpectedly after participating in a school talent show. Once she had a moment on the stage, she overcame her shyness and wanted to become a singer and performer. By age seven, Knowles had entered her first talent show, singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. She won the contest and was honored with a standing ovation. At the same age, Knowles started gaining attention from the press, having mentioned in Houston Chronicle as a nominee for the local performing arts award The Sammy.
In the fall of 1990, Knowles enrolled in Parker Elementary School, a music magnet school in Houston, where she would perform onstage with the school’s choir. She also attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and later went to Alief Elsik High School, located in the Houston neighborhood of Alief. Knowles was a soloist in the choir of her church, in St. John’s United Methodist Church. She only lasted in the choir for two years, however, because she was preoccupied with her newfound career.
At the age of eight, Knowles met LaTavia Roberson while in an audition for a girl group. They, along with Knowles’ friend Kelly Rowland, were placed into a group that performed rapping and dancing. Originally named Girl’s Tyme, they were eventually cut down to six members. With Knowles and Rowland, Girl’s Tyme attracted audience nationally. West coast R&B producer, Arne Frager, flew into Houston to see them. He eventually brought them to his studio – The Plant Recording Studios – in Northern California, with Knowles’ vocals being featured because Frager thought she had personality and the ability to sing. As part of efforts to sign Girl’s Tyme to a major label record deal, Frager’s strategy was to debut them in Star Search, the biggest talent show on national TV that time. Girl’s Tyme participated in the competition but lost it because the song they performed was not good, Knowles herself admitted. Knowles had her first “professional setback” after that defeat, but regained confidence after learning that pop stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake had also the same experience.
To manage the group, Knowles’ father (who was at that time a medical-equipment salesman) resigned in 1995 from his job. He dedicated his time and established a “boot camp” for their training. The move reduced Knowles’ family’s income by half and her parents separated because of the pressure. Not long after the inclusion of Rowland, Mathew cut the original lineup to four, with LeToya Luckett joining in 1993. Rehearsing in Tina’s Headliners Salon and their backyards, the group continued performing as an opening act for other established R&B girl groups of the time; Tina contributed to the cause by designing their costumes, which she continued to do throughout the Destiny’s Child era. With the continued support of Mathew, they auditioned before record labels and were finally signed to Elektra Records, only to be dropped months later before they could release an album.
Recording and Film Career
1997-2005: Destiny’s Child’s era
Taking inspiration from a passage in the Book of Isaiah, the group changed its name to Destiny’s Child in 1993. Together, they performed in local events and, after four years on the road, the group was signed to Columbia Records in late 1997. That same year, Destiny’s Child recorded its major label debut song, “Killing Time”, for the soundtrack to the 1997 film, Men in Black. The following year, the group released its self-titled debut album, scoring their first major hit “No, No, No”. That album established the group as a viable act in the music industry, amassing moderate sales and winning the group three Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards for “Best R&B/Soul Single” for “No, No, No”, “Best R&B/Soul Album of the Year” and “Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist”. However, the group rose to bona fide stardom after releasing their multi-platinum sophomore album The Writing’s on the Wall in 1999. The record features some of the group’s most widely known songs such as “Bills, Bills, Bills”, the group’s first number-one single, Jumpin’ Jumpin’”, and “Say My Name”, which became their most-successful song at the time, and would remain one of their signature songs. “Say My Name” won the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and the Best R&B Song at the 2001 Grammy Awards. The Writing’s on the Wall sold more than seven million copies, essentially becoming their breakthrough album.
Along with their commercial successes, the group became entangled in much-publicized turmoil involving the filing of a lawsuit by Luckett and Roberson for breach of contract. The issue was heightened after Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin appeared on the video of “Say My Name”, implying that Luckett and Roberson had already been replaced. Eventually, Luckett and Roberson left the group. Franklin would eventually fade from the group after five months, as evidenced by her absences during promotional appearances and concerts. She attributed her departure to negative vibes in the group resulting from the strife.
After settling on their final lineup, the trio recorded “Independent Women Part I”, which appeared on the soundtrack to the 2000 film, Charlie’s Angels. It became their best-charting single, topping the official U.S. singles chart for eleven consecutive weeks. The success cemented the new lineup and skyrocketed them to fame. Later that year, Luckett and Roberson withdrew their case against their now-former band mates, while maintaining the suit against Mathew, which ended in both sides agreeing to stop public disparaging. Destiny’s Child’s third album, Survivor, channels the turmoil they underwent, spawning its eponymous lead single, which was a response to the experience. The themes of “Survivor”, however, caused Luckett and Roberson to refile their lawsuit, believing that the songs were aimed at them. However, the proceedings were eventually settled in June 2002. Meanwhile, the album was released in May 2001, debuting at number one on U.S. Billboard 200 with 663,000 units sold. To date, Survivor has sold over ten million copies worldwide, over forty percent of which were sold in the U.S. alone. The album spawned other number-one hitsâ€””Bootylicious” and the title track, “Survivor”, the latter of which earned the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. After releasing their holiday album, 8 Days of Christmas, the group announced a hiatus to pursue solo projects.
2000-2002: Solo and career development
In 2000, Knowles signed a three-album deal with Columbia Records. While Knowles was with Destiny’s Child, she made solo appearances. She made a duet with label mate Marc Nelson on the song “After All Is Said and Done” for the soundtrack to the 1999 film The Best Man, and featured on the 2000 single “I Got That” by rapper Amil. In early 2001, while Destiny’s Child was completing Survivor, Knowles landed a major role in the MTV made-for-television film, Carmen: A Hip Hopera, starring alongside American actor Mekhi Phifer. Set in Philadelphia, the film is a modern interpretation of the 19th century opera Carmen by French composer Georges Bizet.
In 2002, Knowles co-starred in the comedy film Austin Powers in Goldmember, playing Foxxy Cleopatra opposite Mike Myers. The movie topped the box office, gaining $73.1 million on its first weekend. Knowles recorded her first solo single, “Work It Out”, for the film’s soundtrack. The following year, Knowles starred opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the romantic comedy film The Fighting Temptations, and recorded “Fighting Temptation”, alongside female rappers Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Free for its soundtrack.
That same year, Knowles was featured on her then-boyfriend Jay-Z’s hit single “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”. She also recorded a version of 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” and released it in March 2003. Luther Vandross and Knowles remade the duet “The Closer I Get to You”, which was originally recorded by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway in 1977. Their version won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals the following year, and Vandross’ “Dance with My Father”, which also features Knowles, won for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
2003: Dangerously in Love
After Williams and Rowland released their solo efforts, Knowles released her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, in June 2003. Featuring many musical collaborators, the album contains a combination of uptempo and slow jam songs. The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at number one, selling 317,000 copies in its first week. Certified 4x platinum on August 5, 2004 by the Recording Industry Association of America, the album has sold 4.2 million copies to date in the United States.
The album yielded two number one singles. “Crazy in Love”, featuring a guest rap verse from Jay-Z, was released as the album’s lead single remained on the Billboard HotÂ 100 for eight consecutive weeks and topping many charts worldwide. Knowles also successfully dominated the United Kingdom, simultaneously topping the singles and album charts there. The album’s second single, “Baby Boy”, which features dancehall singer Sean Paul, also became one of the biggest hits of 2003, dominating U.S. radio airplay and spending nine weeks at number one on the Billboard HotÂ 100â€”one week longer than “Crazy in Love”. Unlike “Crazy in Love”, the final three singles attained more immediate commercial successes, propelling the album to the top of the charts and going a long way toward it being certified multi-platinum.
Knowles won five awards at the 2004 Grammy Awards for her solo effort, which included the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Dangerously in Love 2″, Best R&B Song for “Crazy in Love”, and the Best Contemporary R&B Album. She shares this distinction with four other female artists: Lauryn Hill (1999), Alicia Keys (2002) Norah Jones (2003) and Amy Winehouse (2008). In 2004, she won a BRIT Award for International Female Solo Artist.
2004-2005: Destiny Fulfilled and group disbandment
In 2004, Knowles planned to release a follow-up to Dangerously in Love, which would feature some of the left-over recordings. However, her musical aspirations were put on hiatus due to conflicting schedules, including her recording with Destiny’s Child for what would be their final album. Early in that year, Knowles performed the U.S. national anthem at Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in Houston; she admitted it fulfilled a childhood dream.
After a three-year journey that involved concentration on individual solo projects, Knowles rejoined Rowland and Williams for Destiny Fulfilled, released in November 2004. The album hit number two on the Billboard 200, and spawned three top forty hits including “Lose My Breath” and “Soldier”. In support of the album, Destiny’s Child embarked on the 2005 Destiny Fulfilled … And Lovin’ It world tour, which started in April and ran through September. On the Barcelona, Spain visit, the group announced their disbandment after the end of their final North American leg. In October 2005, the group released a compilation album, entitled #1′s, including all of Destiny’s Child’s number-one hits and most of their well-known songs. The greatest hits collection also includes three new tracks, including “Stand Up for Love”. Destiny’s Child was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2006. They were also recognized as the world’s best-selling female group of all time.
Continuing her film career, Knowles co-starred in the film The Pink Panther, playing the role of Xania, an international pop star, opposite Steve Martin, who plays Inspector Clouseau. The film was released on February 10, 2006, and debuted at number one at the box office, doing $21.7 million in ticket sales in its first week. Knowles recorded “Check on It” for the soundtrack to the film, featuring Slim Thug, and reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
In late 2005, Knowles again put her second album on hold after she landed a role in Dreamgirls, the film adaptation of the 1981 hit Broadway musical about a 1960s singing group loosely based on Motown all-female group The Supremes. In the film, she portrays the Diana Ross-based character Deena Jones. Knowles told Billboard magazine: “I’m not going to write for the album until I finish doing the movie.” Released in December 2006, Dreamgirls stars Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson. Knowles recorded several songs for the film’s soundtrack, including the original song “Listen”. On December 14, 2006, Knowles was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for the film: Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and Best Original Song for “Listen”.
Inspired by her role in Dreamgirls, Knowles worked on her second album without any specific plan, telling MTV News, “[When filming ended] I had so many things bottled up, so many emotions, so many ideas”. Knowles worked with previous musical collaborators, including Rich Harrison, Rodney Jerkins and Sean Garrett, at the Sony Music Studios in New York City. She co-wrote and co-produced nearly all songs included in the album, which was completed in three weeks.
B’Day was released worldwide on September 4, 2006 and on September 5, 2006 in the United States to coincide with the celebration of her twenty-fifth birthday. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling more than 541,000 copies in the first week, her highest first-week sales mark as a solo artist. The album has been certified three-times platinum in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America. The album spawned the UK number-one single “DÃ©jÃ Vu”, the album’s lead single, featuring Jay-Z.” “Irreplaceable” was released in October 2006 as the album’s second single worldwide and third single in the U.S. “Irreplaceable” topped the Billboard HotÂ 100 for 10 consecutive weeks, giving Knowles her longest-running single to date. Although it was a commercial success, the relatively short-spanned production of the album was the subject of critical scrutiny.
Knowles re-released B’Day on April 3, 2007 as a deluxe edition, featuring five new tracks and Spanish-language versions of “Irreplaceable”, and “Listen”. Simultaneously, the B’Day Anthology was released featuring 10 music videos. In support of the album, Knowles embarked on her lengthy The BeyoncÃ© Experience concert tour, visiting over ninety venues worldwide, which was made into the concert DVD The BeyoncÃ© Experience Live!. At the 2007 Grammy Awards, B’Day earned Knowles the award for Best Contemporary R&B Album. Knowles made history at the 35th Annual American Music Awards for being the first woman to win an International Artist Award.
2008-present: I Amâ€¦ Sasha Fierce
On February 10th, 2008, Knowles performed a duet at the 50th Grammy Awards with one of her musical influences Tina Turner. Knowles introduced Turner as ‘The Queen’ and they performed one of Turner’s signature songs ‘Proud Mary’, receiving very positive reviews from the press. Also in 2008, Knowles released her third studio album, I Amâ€¦ Sasha Fierce, on November 18, 2008. Knowles says that the name Sasha Fierce is the name of the persona she adopts when she performs onstage. “I have someone else that takes over when it’s time for me to work and when I’m on stage, this alter ego that I’ve created that kind of protects me and who I really am.” In an interview with producer Rodney Jerkins, he said that the style of the album kept switching and was inspired by the musical biopic film, Cadillac Records, in which Knowles had been cast to play famed blues singer Etta James. Her performance in the film has received praise from critics. Knowles also starred opposite Ali Larter and Idris Elba in a thriller film called Obsessed, which was in production since May 2008. The film received a poor critical response and has a rotten rank of 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the film has so far proved to be a commercial success and was released in the United States on April 24, 2009, the film grossed $11.1 million on its first day of release and ended its opening weekend at number one, with a total of $28.6 million.
“If I Were a Boy” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, the first and second singles off I Amâ€¦ Sasha Fierce, were released to radio on October 8, 2008, preceding the album’s release on November 18, 2008. While “If I Were a Boy” topped numerous charts worldwide, mostly in European countries, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” went on to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, for four non-consecutive weeks, giving Knowles her fifth number one single in the United States. “Halo”, the fourth single off I Am… Sasha Fierce, went on to peak at number five, becoming Knowles’ 12th Top 10 single on the Hot 100 as a solo artist. This made Knowles the female artist with the most top tens on the Hot 100 this decade. Knowles won the Outstanding Female Artist at the 2009 NAACP Image Awards. She also won the Best R&B Artist award at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.
Knowles performed on January 18, 2009 at the Lincoln Memorial festivities in honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. Knowles also sang her cover of the R&B classic most famously sang by Etta James, “At Last”, as President Obama and his wife Michelle had their first dance as President and First lady of America, on January 20, 2009 at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball.
Knowles embarked on her third world tour, I Amâ€¦ Tour, starting in the Spring of 2009, visiting venues all over the world from the America’s, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. She concluded the North American leg of her tour with a four-day limited engagement at the very intimate 1500-seat Encore Theatre at Steve Wynn’s Encore Resort in Las Vegas from July 30 through August 2, 2009. Tickets for the event ranged from $250 to $1000, and the program was altered significantly to accommodate the small size of the venue. The modified performances included acoustic “unplugged” arrangements of the artist’s hits, and a story of her rise to fame from age 9 to the present day through an exploration of her music as a member of Destiny’s Child, a contributor to soundtracks, and a solo artist. The story began with a mention of her father taking her and the original members of Destiny’s Child to an audition for Columbia Records which her father interrupted, noting that she must have been swimming that morning since her nose was stuffy and insisting that the girls leave and “weren’t ready” for the audition. As Knowles said during the performance, “He was right. We weren’t ready. We were 9.”