Beyonce Knowles in 2011.

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles (born September 4, 1981), often known simply as Beyoncé, is an American R&B recording artist, actress and fashion designer. 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 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 in 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 her second solo album, B'Day in 2006. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and included the hits Irreplaceable and Beautiful Liar. Her third solo album I Am... Sasha Fierce was released in 2008, and included the anthemic Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It). The album earned Knowles six Grammys at the 52nd Grammy Awards, breaking the record for most Grammy Awards won by a female artist in one night. In 2011, Knowles released her fourth studio album 4, which became her fourth consecutive solo number-one album on the Billboard 200. This made Knowles the second female artist and third artist overall, to have her first four studio albums debut atop the chart.

Apart from her work in music, Knowles has also launched a career in acting. In 2001, she made her debut in the musical film Carmen: A Hip Hopera, prior to appearing in major films, including Dreamgirls (2006), which earned her two Golden Globe nominations, and Cadillac Records (2008). In 2004, Knowles and her mother introduced their family's fashion line, House of Deréon; Knowles has also endorsed brands such as Pepsi, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and L’Oreal. In June 2010, Knowles was ranked second on Forbes list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential celebrities in the world, and first on its list of the Most Powerful and Influential musicians in the world.

Knowles has earned numerous awards and accolades. She is one of the most honoured artists by the Grammys, and third among female artists, with a total of 16 Grammy Awards—13 as a solo artist and 3 as a member of Destiny's Child. At the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, Knowles was honoured with the Billboard Millennium Award for recognizing her career achievements and influence in the music industry. She was ranked the 4th Artist of the 2000s decade by Billboard, and was listed the most successful female artist of the 2000s, as well as the top radio artist. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), also recognized Knowles as the top certified artist of the 2000s. As of May 2010, Knowles has sold more than 11.2 million albums and 25 million singles in the United States. As of September 2009, she has sold 75 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

Life, careerEdit

1981–96: Early life and career beginningsEdit

Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Mathew Knowles, a professional record manager, and Tina Knowles (née Beyincé), a costume designer and hair stylist. Knowles' father is African American and her mother is of Creole (African, 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. Knowles' interest in music and performing began after participating in a school talent show. She sang John Lennon's Imagine and won the competition. At age seven, 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.

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. 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. As part of efforts to sign Girl's Tyme to a major label record deal, Frager's strategy was to début them in Star Search, the biggest talent show on national TV at the 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 were forced to move into separated apartments. 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. They moved to Atlanta to work on their first recording, only to be cut by the record company in 1995. They returned home to start over again. This eventually put a strain on the family, and Beyoncé's parents separated briefly when she was 14. In 1996, the family reunited, and shortly after, the girls got a contract with Columbia Records.

1997–2001: Destiny's Child era, depressionEdit

The group changed its name to Destiny's Child in 1993, based on a passage in the Book of Isaiah. 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 their major label début song, Killing Time, for the soundtrack to the 1997 film, Men in Black. The following year, the group released their self-titled debut album, scoring their first major hit No, No, No. The 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". The group released 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 43rd Grammy Awards.The Writing's on the Wall sold more than eight million copies. During this time, Knowles recorded a duet with Marc Nelson on the song After All Is Said and Done for the soundtrack to the 1999 film, The Best Man.

Luckett and Roberson filed a lawsuit against the group for breach of contract. 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. During this time, Knowles had experienced depression from an accumulation of struggles: the publicized split of Luckett and 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 acknowledges 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?"

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 Billboard Hot 100 for eleven consecutive weeks. 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. In early 2001, while Destiny's Child was completing their third album, 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. Luckett and Roberson refiled their lawsuit after Destiny's Child's third album, Survivor was released in May 2001, claiming that the songs were aimed at them. The album débuted 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 careers.

2002–03: Solo career, films, and Dangerously in LoveEdit

In 2002, Knowles co-starred in the comedy film Austin Powers in Goldmember, playing Foxxy Cleopatra, opposite of Mike Myers. Knowles recorded her first solo single, Work It Out, for the film's soundtrack. The following year, she starred opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the romantic comedy film, The Fighting Temptations, and recorded numerous songs for the film's soundtrack, including Fighting Temptation and a cover version of Fever. In October 2002, Knowles was featured on her then-boyfriend Jay-Z's single, '03 Bonnie & Clyde. The song peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Rap Songs chart. In March 2003, Knowles released a remix of 50 Cent's In Da Club, which made its way onto several mixtapes.

After Williams and Rowland released their solo efforts, Knowles released her début solo album, Dangerously in Love, in June 2003. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 317,000 copies in its first week. The album sold over 4.6 million copies in the United States, where it was certified four times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It went on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide, and remains as Knowles' best-selling album to date. The album's lead single, Crazy In Love featuring Jay-Z, spent eight consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album's second single, Baby Boy featuring dancehall singer Sean Paul, spent nine consecutive weeks at number one. The album's third single, Me, Myself and I, peaked at number four on the same chart. The album's fourth single, Naughty Girl, peaked at number three and became Knowles' fourth consecutive top-five release from Dangerously in Love and Knowles' fifth consecutive top-five hit.

The album led Knowles to win a then record-tying five awards at the 46th Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for Dangerously in Love 2, Best R&B Song, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. In November 2003, Knowles embarked on her Dangerously in Love Tour in Europe.

2004–05: Destiny Fulfilled and group disbandmentEdit

In March 2004, Knowles joined Alicia Keys, Missy Elliott, and Tamia for the Verizon Ladies First Tour in North America. Knowles had originally planned to release a follow-up to Dangerously in Love in March 2004, which would feature some of the left-over recordings from the album. However, Knowles decided to put the album on hold in order to concentrate on the next Destiny's Child album. After a three-year journey that involved concentration on individual solo projects, Knowles rejoined Rowland and Williams to release their fourth and final album, Destiny Fulfilled in November 2004. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and sold over 3.1 million copies in the United States, where it was certified three times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album spawned the hit singles, Lose My Breath, Soldier and Cater 2 U. In April 2005, the group embarked on their Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It tour, which ended in September of that year. During the last stop of their European leg of the tour in Barcelona, Rowland announced that Destiny's Child would disband following the North American leg of the tour. A compilation album titled, Number 1's, featuring the group's number-one hits and most well-known songs, was released in October 2005. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and certified Platinum by the RIAA. Knowles' song Check On It featuring Slim Thug, was released from the album in December 2005. The song spent five consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and became Knowles' third Hot 100 number-one as a solo artist and Slim Thug's first Hot 100 single. In March 2006, Destiny's Child reunited to accept a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2006–07: B'Day and filmsEdit

In February 2006, Knowles' starred opposite Steve Martin in the comedy film, The Pink Panther, as international pop star, Xania. Knowles released her second studio album, B'Day, in September 2006; it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 541,000 copies in its first week. It gained Knowles her largest first week sales of her solo career and became her second consecutive number one album. The album sold 3.2 million copies in the United States, and has been certified three times Platinum by the RIAA. The album's lead single, Déjà Vu featuring Jay-Z, peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Ring The Alarm was released as the album's second US single, while Irreplaceable served as the second international single and later as the third US single. "Irreplaceable" spent ten consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Knowles' fourth number-one single as solo artist.

In December 2006, Knowles starred in Dreamgirls, a film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical about a 1960s singing group, alongside Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson. Knowles recorded several songs for the film's soundtrack, including the original song, Listen. Her role earned her two Golden Globe Award nominations in 2007 for Best Actress and Best Original Song. On April 3, 2007, Knowles re-released B'Day, as a deluxe edition, featuring five new songs, including Beautiful Liar, a duet with Colombian singer Shakira. The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100. It performed better in international music markets, reaching number one in the United Kingdom, making it Knowles' third number-one single there and Shakira's second. On April 10, 2007, Knowles' embarked on her first solo worldwide concert tour, The Beyoncé Experience. The tour visited over ninety venues worldwide, and was later made into the concert DVD, The Beyoncé Experience Live!.

B'Day received five nominations at the 49th Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for Ring The Alarm and Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for Déjà Vu. The Freemasons club mix of Déjà Vu without the rap was nominated for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical. The album won the award for Best Contemporary R&B Album. The following year, B'Day received two nominations for Record of the Year for Irreplaceable and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for Beautiful Liar. Knowles' also received a Grammy nomination for her work on Dreamgirls.

2008–09: Marriage, I Am... Sasha Fierce, and filmsEdit

In 2002, Knowles began dating American 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 they remained discreet about their relationship. On April 4, 2008, they married in New York City. Knowles did not publicly debut her wedding ring until the Fashion Rocks concert on September 5, 2008, in New York City. Before they were married, Knowles and Jay-Z were listed as the Most Powerful Couple of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential people of 2006. In January 2009, Forbes ranked them as Hollywood's top-earning couple, with a combined total of $162 million. They also made it to the top of the list the following year, with a combined total of $122 million between June 2008 and June 2009.

In November 2008, Forbes magazine reported that Knowles earned $80 million between June 1, 2007 to June 1, 2008, for her music, tour, films and fashion business. This made her the world's second best-paid music personality for this span of time. Knowles released her third studio album, I Am... Sasha Fierce, on November 14, 2008. The album introduces Knowles' alter-ego "Sasha Fierce". It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 482,000 copies in its first week, giving Knowles her third consecutive number one album in the US. Eventually, Knowles became the third female artist of the 2000s decade to have her first three albums debut at at number one on Billboard 200. The album sold 2.9 million copies in the United States, and certified double platinum by the RIAA. To date, the album has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. If I Were A Boy and Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) were released as the album's first and second lead singles, respectively. The first lead single peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, while the second peaked at number one, becoming Knowles' fifth number-one single. Single Ladies spent four non-consecutive weeks at the top spot. Its music video has achieved fame for its intricate choreography, which has been credited as having started the "first major dance craze of both the new millennium and the Internet". This prompted a legion of imitations and parodies from men and women all around the world, including celebrities Justin Timberlake, Joe Jonas, Tom Hanks and US President Barack Obama. The music video received nine nominations 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 a controversy during the ceremony.

In December 2008, Knowles starred in the musical biopic Cadillac Records as blues singer, Etta James. She performed James' classic hit At Last at The Neighborhood Inaugural Ball of Barack Obama and his wife Michelle's first dance as President and First Lady of the United States on January 20, 2009. Diva was released as the third US single from I Am... Sasha Fierce, while Halo served as the third international single, and later as the fourth US single. The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Knowles' twelfth Hot 100 top-ten single as a solo artist. With this feat, Knowles achieved more top tens on the Hot 100 than any other female artist of the 2000s decade. Ego was released as the album's fifth US single, and subsequently came up with a remix featuring additional vocals from Kanye West. The song peaked at number thirty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100. Broken-Hearted Girl and Sweet Dreams became the album's sixth and seventh singles respectively. To promote the album, Knowles embarked on her worldwide I Am... Tour in March 2009. According to Pollstar, the tour earned Knowles $103.2 million for its 97 shows. In April 2009, Knowles starred opposite Ali Larter and Idris Elba in the thriller film, Obsessed. The film grossed $11.1 million on its first day of release, and ended its opening weekend at number one with a total of $28.5 million. In June 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 first on the list of "Top Best-Paid Celebs Under 30" with over $87 million in earnings between 2008 and 2009. Video Phone was released as the eighth single from I Am... Sasha Fierce, with a music video and digital download release taking form of an extended remix featuring American pop artist, Lady Gaga. Its music video received two nominations at the 2010 BET Awards for Video of the Year and Best Collaboration, winning the former category on April 27, 2010. It also received five nominations at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, in the categories of Best Choreography, Best Collaboration, Best Pop Video, Best Female Video and Best Art Direction.

Knowles received ten nominations at the 52nd Grammy Awards, 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), among others. She tied with Lauryn Hill for most Grammy nominations in a single year by a female artist. Knowles ultimately set the record for the most Grammy awards won on a single night by a female artist, when she won six awards from her ten nominations; Song of the Year, Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for Single Ladies, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Halo, Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for At Last.

2010–present: New management and 4Edit

In January 2010, Knowles was interviewed by USA Today and announced plans to take a break from music in 2010. She stated, "it's definitely time to take a break, to recharge my batteries. ... I'd like to take about six months and not go into the studio. I need to just live life, to be inspired by things again." During this time, a 60 Minutes segment aired, revealing Knowles was homeschooled as a child and prays before every performance. In February 2010, Lady Gaga's song Telephone was released featuring Knowles. The single reached number one on the US Pop Songs chart, thus becoming the sixth number-one on the chart for both Knowles and Lady Gaga. With this, they both tied with Mariah Carey for most number-ones since the Nielsen BDS-based Top 40 airplay chart launched in 1992. Telephone received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 53rd Grammy Awards.

In June 2010, Forbes placed Knowles at number three on its list of "Top-Earning Musicians" with $87 million in grosses for her 93-date world tour, deals with Nintendo and L'Oréal and her House of Deréon clothing line. This made her the world's best paid female artist for this span of time. In October 2010, Forbes recognized Knowles as the ninth "Most Powerful Woman in the World". She also ranked at ninth place on Forbes' list of "Hollywood's 20 Highest Earners of 2010", becoming the only artist to break the top ten.

In January 2011, it was announced that Knowles would appear in a remake of A Star Is Born, to be directed and produced by Clint Eastwood for Warner Bros.. The remake will be the fourth telling of the A Star Is Born tale, the most memorable in recent years being the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. In February 2011, documents obtained by the WikiLeaks website revealed that Knowles along with Usher, Mariah Carey and Nelly Furtado had received as much as $1 million to perform for family members of Libyan politician Muammar Gaddafi. Rolling Stone magazine reported that the music industry was urging them to return the money they earned for the concerts. On March 2, 2011, a spokesperson for Knowles told The Huffington Post that she had donated the money to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, established to aid the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. On March 28, 2011, it was announced that Knowles' father and longtime manager Mathew Knowles would no longer manage her. Knowles' publicist released a statement to The Associated Press revealing that Knowles and her father have split "on a business level." She now manages herself and has hired her own team. In June 2011, Forbes placed Knowles eighth on its list of "Best-Paid Celebrities Under 30" for earning $35 million between the months of May 2010 and 2011. Forbes noted that was low placement for Knowles was due to the fact she spent most of the past year off the road and recording her then upcoming fourth studio album.

Knowles' fourth studio album 4 was released on June 24, 2011. The album was inspired by several musicians, including Fela Kuti, The Stylistics, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 310,000 copies. This gave Knowles her fourth solo debut at the top of the chart and makes her the second female artist and third artist overall, to have her first four studio albums debut atop the Billboard 200. However, 4's first-week sales serve as Knowles' lowest sales start with a studio album to date. Its lead single, Run the World (Girls) peaked at number twenty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100, and became Knowles' lowest charting lead single as a solo artist. The album's second single, Best Thing I Never Had, was released on June 1, 2011. Knowles headlined at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival, performing a 90-minute set on the last day of the festival on June 26, 2011. She also performed at the T in the Park Festival in Scotland on July 9, 2011 and the Oxegen Festival in Ireland the next day.