Knowles at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles, born September 4, 1981, often known simply as Beyoncé is an American R&B recording artist, actress and fashion model. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she enrolled in various performing arts schools and, as a child, was first exposed to singing and dancing competitions. Knowles rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny's Child, one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time.
During the hiatus of Destiny's Child, Knowles released her debut solo album Dangerously in Love (2003), which spawned the number one hits "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy", and became one of the most successful albums of that year, earning her a then record-tying five Grammy Awards. Following the group's disbandment in 2005, Knowles released B'Day in 2006, which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts; it included the hits "Déjà Vu" and "Irreplaceable". Her third solo album I Am... Sasha Fierce, released in November 2008, included the anthemic "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". The album and its singles earned her six Grammy Awards, breaking the record for most Grammy Awards won by a female artist in one night. Knowles is one of the most-honored artists by the Grammys, with 16 awards—13 as a solo artist and three as a member of Destiny's Child.
Knowles 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 Deréon, in 2004, and has endorsed such brands as Pepsi, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and L'Oréal. 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.
Knowles has attained five Hot 100 number one singles as a solo performer and four with Destiny's Child, and according to Sony, her total record sales, when combined with the group, have surpassed 100 million. On December 11, 2009, Billboard listed Knowles as the most successful female artist of the 2000s decade and the top Radio Artist of the 2000s decade. In February 2010, the RIAA listed her as the top certified artist of the decade.
Early life and career beginnings
Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Mathew Knowles, a professional record manager, and Tina Knowles, 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. 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 been mentioned in the 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 on-stage 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 suburban munincipality, 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 an all-girl entertainment 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 moved into separated apartments 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
1997–2001: Destiny's Child 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 second 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 eight million copies, essentially becoming their breakthrough album.
Knowles performing Destiny's Child hit "Independent Women Part I", the best-charting single from the group.
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 hits—"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.
2000–02: 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 numerous song's for the film's soundtrack, including "Fighting Temptation" (featuring Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Free) and a cover version of "Fever".
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.
2003–2004: 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 4.7 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 Hot 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 Hot 100—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 shared this distinction with four other female artists: Lauryn Hill (1999), Alicia Keys (2002) Norah Jones (2003) and Amy Winehouse (2008) up until 2010, when she won 6 Grammy Awards in one night. In 2004, she won a BRIT Award for International Female Solo Artist.
2004–05: 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.
Destiny's Child performing the 2000 hit "Say My Name" during their farewell concert tour, Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It.
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. 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".
Knowles performing "Listen" from Dreamgirls, during The Beyoncé Experience tour in 2007.
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 "Déjà 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 Hot 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 Beyoncé Experience concert tour, visiting over ninety venues worldwide, which was made into the concert DVD The Beyoncé 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.
2008–09: I Am... Sasha Fierce
Knowles at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009.
Knowles released her third studio album, I Am… 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. The album was preceded with the release of its two singles, "If I Were a Boy" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". 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.
Knowles appeared in the musical biopic film, Cadillac Records, in which Knowles had been cast to play famed blues singer Etta James. Her performance in the film received praise from critics and the song "Once in a Lifetime", a collaboration with Scott McFarnon, was nominated for a Grammy and a Golden Globe. Knowles also starred opposite Ali Larter and Idris Elba in a thriller film called Obsessed, which was in production since May 2008. The film has 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.
"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. She is also the female artist with the most cumulative weeks at number one this decade, with 36 total weeks at number one, the most top fives and the most top ten hits this decade with fourteen, as well as the most top 40 hits of the decade with 19 top 40 hits.
Knowles performing "Smash Into You" on the I Am... Tour in Brazil.
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.
Beyoncé singing "At Last" at the Neighborhood Ball, 2009.
In support of the album, Knowles embarked on her lengthy I Am... Tour concert tours starting in the Spring of 2009, visiting venues all over the world. She concluded the North American leg of her tour with a four-day limited engagement at the very intimate, 1500-seat Encore Theater at Steve Wynn's Encore Resort in Las Vegas, from July 30 through August 2, 2009. As of August 2, 2009, Knowles's tour has officially been ranked a No. 1 concert attraction thanks to record attendance and an unprecedented multi-leg journey. Billboard journalist Bob Allen confirms the tour's success, stating: "With reported grosses topping $36 million since the tour began, her show ranks among the top 15 grossing tours of the year."
The "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" video won the 2009 BET Awards Video of the Year. In addition, it was nominated for a total of nine awards at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, and ultimately won the award for Video of the Year, and an additional two awards, though its loss in the Best Female Video category to Taylor Swift's "You Belong with Me" led to controversy during the ceremony; Swift's award acceptance speech was interrupted by Hip-Hop artist Kanye West, who grabbed her microphone to declare the "Single Ladies" video as "one of the best videos of all time". When Knowles accepted the Video of the Year award, she stated, "I remember being 17 years old, up for my first MTV award with Destiny's Child and it was one of the most exciting moments in my life" and that she would like for Swift to "come out and have her moment". In October 2009, Knowles was honored with Billboard magazine's "Woman of the Year" award. Accepting the award, Knowles remarked "I am the luckiest woman in the world.". In November 2009, Knowles was announced as the winner of the UK's 4Music's "World's Greatest Popstars" competition which was sponsored by Rimmel. Over 100,000 voted, with Knowles coming out top of the highly publicised vote, even ahead of the likes of Madonna, Britney Spears, Eminem and Pink.
2010–present: Grammy record, Upcoming fourth album
Knowles participated in the "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief". She appeared in London with Jay-Z, Rihanna, and U2's Bono and The Edge, where she performed an acoustic version of her song "Halo".
Knowles led the 52nd Grammy Awards, receiving 10 nominations, including Album of the Year for I Am… Sasha Fierce, Record of the Year for "Halo", and Song of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". Her other two nominations, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "At Last" and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for "Once in a Lifetime" from Cadillac Records (2009), tied her with Lauryn Hill for most Grammy nominations in a single year by a female artist. She ultimately set the record for the most Grammy awards won on a single night by a female artist on January 31, 2010, when she took home six awards from her ten nominations: she won the awards for Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Halo", Best Contemporary R&B Album for I Am... Sasha Fierce and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "At Last".
The final two weeks of concert dates for the "I Am... Tour" took place in February 2010 in South America and the Caribbean. In March 2010, Lady Gaga's single "Telephone", which has Knowles as the featured artist, rose to the top spot on the Pop Songs chart, becoming the sixth number-one on the chart for both Knowles and Gaga. With this, each of the women have tied the record held by Mariah Carey for most No. 1s since the Nielsen BDS-based radio airplay chart launched in 1992. It has also become her seventh number-one on the UK Singles Chart (as a lead and/or featured artist).
Knowles is now working on her fourth studio album. Producer Jim Jonsin is scheduled to work on Knowles fourth album.
Musical style and image
Music and voice
"Trust in Me"
While predominately R&B, Knowles' music explores various styles. The Daily Mail calls Knowles' voice "versatile", capable of exploring power ballads, soul, rock belting, operatic florishes, and hip hop.
Knowles' prominent use of melisma and other vocal ornamentation earns her both praise and criticism from critics and fans.
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Knowles possesses a three and a half octave vocal range and has always been identified as the centerpiece of Destiny's Child.Jon Pareles of The New York Times commented that she has the voice that defines the group, writing that her voice is "velvety yet tart, with an insistent flutter and reserves of soul belting".James Anthony of The Guardian called her voice distinctive and fast, with almost hiccuping vocal technique. Other critics praise her range and power. In reviewing her second album B'Day, Jody Rosen of Entertainment Weekly writes "Beyoncé Knowles is a storm system disguised as a singer. On her second solo album, B'Day, the songs arrive in huge gusts of rhythm and emotion, with Beyoncé's voice rippling over clattery beats; you'd have to search far and wide — perhaps in the halls of the Metropolitan Opera — to find a vocalist who sings with more sheer force...No one — not R. Kelly, not Usher, to say nothing of her rival pop divas — can match Beyoncé's genius for dragging her vocal lines against a hip-hop beat."Chris Richards of the Washington Post writes, "Even when she's coasting, she soars above her imitators. It's all in her voice—a superhuman instrument capable of punctuating any beat with goose-bump-inducing whispers or full-bore diva-roars. Smitten, scorned, amorous, antagonistic—Beyoncé sings from all of these vantage points with undeniable virtuosity." The Cove magazine ranked Knowles seventh on their list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists", giving her 48 out of 50 points based on several criteria ranging from her vocal ability to range to harmony. Knowles has often been criticized for oversinging. A prominent employer of melisma, she earns frequent comparison to such artists as Mariah Carey, whose vocal embellishments have been known to detract from the melody of their songs.Eye Weekly writes, "There’s no question that Beyoncé is one of the best singers in pop, maybe one of the best alive...[However] as judicious as her singing can be, the effect in sum is still like being hit in the head with a fist in a velvet glove."
Knowles' music is generally contemporary R&B, but she also incorporates pop, funk, hip hop, and soul genres into her work. While she almost exclusively releases English songs, Knowles did record several Spanish records for the re-release of B'Day. Destiny's Child had already recorded a Spanish song and received favorable responses from their Latin fans. Knowles took Spanish in school when she was young, but can now only speak a few words of the language. Prior to recording the Spanish titles on the re-released version of B'Day, she was coached phonetically by American record producer Rudy Perez.
Songwriting and producing
Since Destiny's Child, Knowles is artistically involved in her career. She received co-writing credits for most of the songs recorded by the group, as well as her solo efforts. Known for writing personally driven and female-empowerment themed compositions, she has stated that having Jay-Z in her life has changed a few of her thoughts about how men and women relate to one another. Some of her songs are autobiographical, which she has admitted are taken from personal experiences, as well as her friends'.
Knowles has also received co-producing credits for most of the records in which she has been involved, especially during her solo efforts. However, she does not formulate beats herself, but typically comes up with melodies and ideas during production, sharing them with producers. Knowles was recognized as a songwriter during the run of Destiny's Child in the 1990s and early to mid-2000s. She won the Pop Songwriter of the Year award at the 2001 American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Pop Music Awards, becoming the first African-American female and second female songwriter of all time to accomplish the feat. Knowles received three songwriting credits in a single year for co-writing "Irreplaceable", "Grillz" ("Soldier" was sampled on the song) and "Check on It", the only woman to achieve since Carole King in 1971 and Mariah Carey in 1991. In terms of credits, she is tied with Diane Warren at third with nine number-one singles.
Knowles performs at the 2007 Beyoncé Experience, with her all-female tour band, Suga Mama.
Early into her career, Knowles developed an alter ego, Sasha Fierce, that represents the more aggressive, sexual and confident side of the singer. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly magazine, Knowles noted that her alter-ego is "strictly for the stage." Knowles wears a "roboglove" in public to compliment Sasha Fierce.
In 2006, Knowles introduced her all-female tour band Suga Mama, which includes bassists, drummers, guitarists, horn players, keyboardists and percussionists. They debuted at the 2006 BET Awards and they re-appeared in the music video for "Irreplaceable" and "Green Light". The band has supported Knowles in live performances, and on her 2007 The Beyoncé Experience world concert tour, and her 2009 I Am... Tour.
In an article entitled "Born to Entertain", Knowles, alongside classic and contemporary entertainers, received praise for her stage performances. In reviewing her 2009 I Am... Tour, Alice Jones of The Independent writes, "Watching Beyoncé sing and strut her stuff can feel at best overawing, at worst, alienating. She takes her role as entertainer so seriously she's almost too good." The New York Times writes, "there is a breathtaking elegance in her acute desire to entertain". Renee Michelle Harris of the South Florida Times writes, Knowles "owns the stage with her trademark swagger and intensity... showcasing her powerful vocals without missing a note, often while engaged in vigorous, perfectly executed dance moves...no one, not Britney, not Ciara and not Rihanna can offer what she does—a complete package of voice, moves and presence." The Daily Mail writes, "many industry experts have been tipping Beyoncé as the next Michael Jackson. While it’s far too early for such comparisons, she certainly proved that she is one of the most exciting and talented performers around and may well go down in history as such.
"Dangerously in Love" (live)
Knowles has received widespread praise for her live vocal performances.
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Reviewers also praise her live vocal performances. In reviewing one of her performances, Jim Farber of The Daily News writes "Beyoncé showed off pipes of steely power. As the song's signature horn riff pumped away, she soared over the melody with athletic ease. The way Beyoncé used her body intensified the sense of triumph. With her hair teased into Medusa-like tresses, a pelvis in perpetual churn and legs long enough to make Tina Turner proud, Beyoncé's presence punctuated her singing like an exclamation point." Stephanie Classen of the Star Phoenix declares "Beyoncé is no ordinary performer... from note one, the 27-year-old powerhouse rose above all the gimmicks, mastering the show like a sexy alien overlord princess. Nothing but extraterrestrial origins could explain that voice....[Beyoncé] could perform circles around any other pop star today." Newsday writes, "she proves that hot choreography and strong vocals don't have to be mutually exclusive... No worries of lip-synching here."
Knowles has also been criticized for her suggestive choreography. Her performance at the former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant's tomb on July 4, 2003 was cited as lasciviously choreographed; Grant's descendants in attendance had mixed reaction to it.
Knowles performing during I Am... Tour
According to her, "I like to dress sexy and I carry myself like a lady," but she has said that the way she dresses on stage is "absolutely for the stage". As someone who is fond of fashion, Knowles combines its artistic elements with her music videos and performances. According to Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, she uses different styles and tries to harmonize it with the music while performing. The B'Day Anthology showed many instances of fashion-oriented footage, depicting classic to contemporary wardrobe styles. People magazine recognized Knowles as the best-dressed celebrity in 2007. Knowles' mother wrote a 2002-published book, titled Destiny's Style: Bootylicious Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Secrets From Destiny's Child, an account of how fashion had an impact on Destiny's Child's success.
As one of the most media-exposed black celebrities in the United States, Knowles has often received criticism that some believe is due to racism and sexism. Toure of Rolling Stone stated that since the release of Dangerously in Love, "[Beyoncé] has become a crossover sex symbol a la Halle Berry ..."Her appearance in Vanity Fair magazine has also provoked speculations that her skin tone was digitally altered.
In 2007, Knowles was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, the first non-model and non-athlete woman to pose on the issue and the second African American model after Tyra Banks. In the same year, Knowles appeared on billboards and newspapers across the United States showing her holding an antiquated cigarette holder. Taken from the back cover of B'Day, the image provoked response from an anti-smoking group, stating that she did not need to add the cigarette holder "to make herself appear more sophisticated".
On April 24, 2009, Knowles appeared on Larry King Live, where she gave herself a more political image and talked about everything from singing at President Barack Obama's inauguration, to racism that she has faced being an African-American. She said that Michelle Obama is "so chic," and even stated that singing for the Obamas' first dance was the highlight of her career.
Knowles at a product launch of Usher Raymond.
Knowles has cited various artists who have influenced her musical style. She grew up listening to songs of Anita Baker and Luther Vandross, the latter of whom she eventually collaborated with, but often credits as her pop music hero Michael Jackson and pop icon Madonna Ciccone as the reason why she does music and she states Michael Jackson as her hero. She also was exposed to the jazz music of Rachelle Ferrell, after singing Ferrell's songs during her voice lessons. Knowles cites influences from American artists Tina Turner, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Selena, Mary J. Blige, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Mariah Carey and the Colombian singer Shakira.
Knowles also has influenced various contemporary artists. Pop singer Rihanna has been compared to her when the columnist for The Guardian Amina Taylor called her "Bajan Beyoncé". In addition, American Idol winner Jordin Sparks' first single, "Tattoo", and debut album have been described as very "Beyoncé-ish"; some critics said that "Tattoo" might be "a blatant rip-off" off Knowles' hit single "Irreplaceable". Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic found American pop singer Katharine McPhee's songs on her debut album of the same name to have heavy influences from Knowles' music. Rowland was inspired by Knowles’ voice while recording the former's second album, Ms. Kelly. Miley Cyrus told America's Seventeen: "I want to be like Beyoncé. She is the ultimate woman. You look at her and you don't think, I wonder what her personal life is like. You look at her and you go, That girl on the stage is a superstar. You don't care about anything else; you only care about her music. So I would hope that would be me in the future."
Knowles became the first female to be awarded the International Artist Award at the American Music Awards. At the 2008 World Music Awards, Knowles was honored the legend award for Outstanding Contribution To The Arts. Knowles was the lead vocalist of one of the world's best selling female groups of all time Destiny's Child. Her debut album was listed as one of the top 200 Definitive albums in music history by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She was one of a few artist of her generation to be mentioned on that list. Knowles has many different wax figures but her most known figure is at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Mo'Nique hosted the 2003, 2004, and 2007 BET Awards and was apparently inspired by Knowles, deciding to open the 2004 ceremony by performing Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love". The performer repeated this pattern at the 2007 ceremony by performing "Deja Vu".
"Single Ladies" has gained widespread popularity for its catchy hook and theme of female empowerment, with critics comparing the song to Aretha Franklin's "Respect" or Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive". The music video has inspired a legion of imitators who have posted videos of themselves on to YouTube attempting to perform the choreography.
House of Deréon
House of Deréon logo.
Knowles and her mother introduced House of Deréon, a ready-to-wear contemporary women's fashion line, in 2005. The concept is inspired by three generations of women in their family, with the name Deréon paying tribute to Knowles' grandmother, Agnèz Deréon, who worked as a seamstress. According to Tina Knowles, the overall style of the line best reflects Knowles' taste and style. Launched in 2006, products of House of Deréon received public exhibitions during the group's shows and tours during Destiny Fulfilled. The store, which is available across the United States and Canada, sells sportswear, denim along with fur, outerwear and accessories that include handbags and footwear. They also include footwear, which Knowles teamed up with House of Brands, a local shoe company. In 2004, Knowles and her mother founded their family's company Beyond Productions, which provides the licensing and brand management for House of Deréon. In early 2008, they launched Beyoncé Fashion Diva, a mobile game with an online social networking component, featuring House of Deréon.
The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has criticized Knowles for wearing and using fur in her clothing line. The organization sent letters of protest and confronted the celebrity at a dinner about the issue. Knowles has yet to respond.
Products and endorsements
Knowles first fragrance, Heat
Knowles signed with Pepsi in 2002 for a promotional deal, which included appearances on TV commercials, as well as radio and Internet advertisements. She was included by the company as endorser to help accomplish wider demographic coverage. A 2004 Pepsi TV commercial in the theme of "Gladiators" featured Knowles and singers Britney Spears, Pink, and Enrique Iglesias, and the following year with Jennifer Lopez and David Beckham entitled "Samurai".
Knowles' range of commercial deals and products also includes beauty care products and perfumes. She has worked with L'Oréal since 18, and signed with the cosmetics company in 2003, earning her about $1 million. She launched Tommy Hilfiger's True Star fragrance, in 2004. As part of her contributions to the product, Knowles sang a cover version of "Wishing on a Star" for the True Star commercials, for which she earned $250,000. She also launched Hilfiger's True Star Gold in 2005 and Emporio Armani's Diamonds in 2007. Forbes magazine reported that Knowles earned $80 million between June 2007 and June 2008, combined with her album, tour, fashion business, and promotional deals. It made her the world's second best-paid music personality for this span of time. In the period from June 2008 through June 2009, Knowles earned $87 million according to Forbes, putting her in fourth place on the 2009 Forbes Celebrity 100 list. In 2010, Knowles will release her first fragrance, "Heat". As part of the scent's advertising campaign, Knowles re-recorded her cover version of "Fever" for the "Heat" commercials. Knowles first recorded "Fever" for her 2003 movie "The Fighting Temptations". Industry experts estimate that the fragrance could do $100 million at retail globally in its first year. Knowles explained the concept behind the fragrance: "A lot of my performances have had fire involved, so we thought ‘Heat.’ Also, red is one of my favorite colors, as is gold. Everything, from the bottle design to the name and the ideas for the commercials—that’s me". Knowles also said about the fragrance: "For me, fragrance reflects a woman’s attitude and unique sense of style, while I love various perfumes, I haven’t found a scent that truly personifies me as a woman. Working with Coty, I was able to turn my ideal fragrance into a reality by creating an alluring and sophisticated fragrance; one that’s reflective of my inner power".
Knowles has been exposed to issues of social awareness since a young child, as her father would sometimes take her into the community, including African-American society. Knowles and Rowland, along with the former's family, founded the Survivor Foundation, a charitable entity set up to provide transitional housing for 2005 Hurricane Katrina victims and storm evacuees in the Houston, Texas area. The Survivor Foundation extended the philanthropic mission of the Knowles-Rowland Center for Youth, a multi-purpose community outreach facility in downtown Houston. Knowles donated $100,000 to the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund, which benefits victims of Hurricane Ike in the Houston area. She is organizing a fund raising benefit for Hurricane Ike relief through the Survivor Foundation.
"Show your helping hand" featuring Beyoncé
In 2005, music producer David Foster, his daughter Amy Foster-Gillies, and Knowles wrote "Stand Up for Love," which would serve as the anthem of World Children's Day, an event which takes place annually around the world on November 20 to raise awareness and funds for children's causes worldwide. Destiny's Child lent their voices and support as global ambassadors for the 2005 World Children's Day program. In 2008, she recorded with various artists for "Just Stand Up!", a charity single for the Stand Up to Cancer charity. Joining Knowles on the song was Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Leann Rimes and Mary J. Blige, among others.
Knowles conducted food drives during stops on The Beyoncé Experience tour in Houston on July 14, Atlanta on July 20, Washington, D.C. on August 9, Toronto on August 15, Chicago on August 18, and Los Angeles on September 2, 2006. On October 4, 2008, Knowles attended the Miami Children's Hospital Diamond Ball & Private Concert at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, where she was inducted into the International Pediatric Hall of Fame. Ethan Bortnick, the seven-year old musical sensation, dedicated and performed "Over the Rainbow" to Knowles. After completing work on Cadillac Records, Knowles donated her entire salary to Phoenix House, an organization of rehabilitation centers around the country. Knowles visited a Brooklyn, New York, site in preparation for portraying singer Etta James, who was once addicted to heroin.On March 5, 2010, Knowles and her mother, Tina Knowles, opened the Beyoncé Cosmetology Center at the Brooklyn Phoenix House. The program will offer a seven-month cosmetology training course for men and women there. L’Oréal has donated all the products to be used at the center, and Knowles, along with her mother, have pledged to donate $100,000 annually.
And most recently Knowles has teamed up with the "Show Your Helping Hand" hunger relief initiative and General Mills Hamburger Helper. The goal is to help Feeding America deliver more than 3.5 million meals to local food banks. Knowles encourages her fans to bring non-perishable groceries to her U.S. concert tour stops.
Beyoncé was named the official face of the limited edition "Fashion For Haiti" T-shirt by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The shirt, which reads: "To Haiti With Love", was designed by Peter Arnell, who also created the "Fashion for America" T-shirt which raised $2 million after 9/11.
Knowles paying surprise visit to then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama's volunteer office on Sistrunk Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the last day of early voting.
During the turmoil of Destiny's Child in 2000, Knowles had admitted in December 2006[ that she had experienced depression from an accumulation of struggles: the publicized split of LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, being publicly attacked by the media, critics and blogs for causing the split-up, and a longstanding boyfriend (that she had dated from age 12 to 19 years) leaving her.
The depression was so severe it had lasted for a couple of years, while she had kept herself in her bedroom for days and refused to eat anything. Knowles stated that she struggled to speak about her depression because Destiny's Child had just won their first Grammy Award and she feared no one would take her seriously. All of these events had made her question herself and who her friends were, describing the situation she said, "Now that I was famous, I was afraid I'd never find somebody again to love me for me. I was afraid of making new friends." She remembers her mother, Tina Knowles, for finally saying to help her out of her depression, "Why do you think a person wouldn't love you? Don't you know how smart and sweet and beautiful you are?"
Since 2002, Knowles has been in a relationship with rapper Jay-Z, with whom she has collaborated several times. Rumors began to circulate about their relationship after Knowles was featured on "'03 Bonnie & Clyde". In spite of persistent rumors about their relationship, they remained discreet about it. In 2005, rumors began to spread about the marriage of the couple. Knowles closed the speculation stating that she and Jay-Z were not even engaged. When asked again about the subject in September 2007, Jay-Z replied, "One day soon—let's leave it at that." Laura Schreffler, senior writer for OK! magazine, said, "They are intensely private people".
On April 4, 2008, Knowles and Jay-Z were married in New York City. It became a matter of public record on April 22, 2008, but Knowles did not publicly debut her wedding ring until the Fashion Rocks concert on September 5, 2008, in New York City. Knowles finally revealed their marriage through an opening montage video at the listening party for I Am... Sasha Fierce in Manhattan's Sony Club.
In 2010 she was on 60 Minutes, where amongst other things it is said she was homeschooled as a child and prays before every performance.
Beyoncé Knowles discography
Beyoncé Knowles songs and Destiny's Child discography
Dangerously in Love (2003)
I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008)
Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001)
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
The Fighting Temptations (2003)
The Pink Panther (2006)
Cadillac Records (2008)
Live at Wembley (2004)
BET Presents Beyoncé (2006)
Beyoncé The Ultimate Performer (2006)
B'Day Anthology Video Album (2007)
The Beyoncé Experience Live (2007)
I Am... Yours: An Intimate Performance at Wynn Las Vegas (2009)
I Am... Live in London (2010)
Dangerously in Love Tour (2003)
Verizon Ladies First Tour (2004)
The Beyoncé Experience (2007)
I Am... Tour (2009—2010)
I Am... Yours (2009)
Year Film Role Notes
2001 Carmen: A Hip Hopera Carmen Lead role, TV film
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember Foxxy Cleopatra Lead role
2003 The Fighting Temptations Lilly Lead role
2004 Fade to Black Herself Jay-Z documentary
2006 The Pink Panther Xania Supporting role
Dreamgirls Deena Jones Lead role
2007 My Night at the Grammys Herself TV film
2008 Cadillac Records Etta James Supporting role
2009 Obsessed Sharon Charles Lead role
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Shine (voice) "Wubbzy's Big Makeover/The Big Wuzzlewood" (Season 2, episode 22)
"Wubb Girlz Rule!/Wuzzleburg Idol" (Season 2, episode 19)
"Bye Bye Wuzzleburg/Wubbzy's Wacky Journey" (Season 2, episode 20)
"Lights, Camera, Wubbzy!/A Wubbstar Is Born" (Season 2, episode 23)
"Beyoncé: For The Record" Herself An hour long interview on 4Music