Knowles, Beyoncé 1981–
Beyoncé Knowles 1981–
Singer, actor, performer
Pop singer Beyoncé Knowles made her name as part of the superstar R & B-pop trio Destiny’s Child, but has emerged as a singular talent. A veteran performer before her pre-teens, Knowles was rehearsing while her schoolmates were goofing around. The payoff came with a string of Grammy and Billboard awards, number-one singles, and platinum-selling records for the group, including “No, No, No,” The Writing’s on the Wall “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Bugaboo,” “Jumpin’ Jump-in’,” “Say My Name,” and Survivor. After selling more than 28 million records worldwide, Knowles maintains her place in the group but has stepped out on her own, starring in the blockbuster comedy Austin Powers in Goldmember and releasing a solo album, Dangerously in Love.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, on September 4, 1981, to Mathew and Tina Knowles. A quiet girl, Knowles shocked her parents when she took the stage at a school talent show and belted out a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” “I wanted to be a performer,” Knowles told the Chicago Tribune. “I was a shy girl until I was performing.” She cites her influences as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Sheila E. She had collected a roomful of talent competition trophies before it dawned on her parents that their little girl could really have what it takes to become successful in music. The Knowleses were very different from the stereotypical overbearing stage parents—they only encouraged their daughter to have fun. They began taking her performances more seriously, however, and working with her on her dance and singing performances, her mother designing costumes. Before Mathew Knowles became manager of Destiny’s Child, he was a successful salesman. Tina Knowles worked in a bank for years before opening her own hair salon—which became the biggest salon in Houston—and became the group’s stylist and clothing designer.
Knowles’s work ethic was strong, even as a girl—she dedicated herself to a regimen of dance and vocal classes. Her parents never made her practice or attend class, but they were always clear with her about the payoffs for hard work. “I thought of rehearsing as fun,” Knowles wrote in Soul Survivors. “It was my time to
At a Glance…
Born Beyoncé Giselle Knowles on September 4, 1981, in Houston, TX; daughter of Mathew and Tina Knowles.
Career: Singer, 1990-; actress, 2001-; joined group that eventually became Destiny’s Child in Houston, TX, c. 1990; signed with Columbia Records, 1996-.
Selected awards: Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist award, Lady of Soul Awards, 1998; Favorite Croup: Urban/Hip-Hop award, Artist Direct Awards, 2000; Artist of the Year, Artist of the Year: Duo or Group, Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year, and Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year: Duo or Group awards, Billboard Music Awards, 2000; Grammy Award, Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo with Vocal for “Say My Name” and Best R&B Song, 2001; Grammy Award, Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo with Vocal for Survivor, 2002.
create dance routines and vocal arrangements. It seemed like playtime.”
Things got more serious in 1990, when Knowles went up against 50 other girls to audition for a new female singing group called Girl’s Tyme. With an ever-changing lineup—about 100 girls were in and out of the group—Knowles performed at banquets and other Houston events. Kelly Rowland joined Girl’s Tyme around 1991, and she and Beyoncé became friends. Rowland and her mother—a nanny and single parent—struggled financially and moved often, until the Knowleses took Kelly in, giving her a stable home. After Kelly moved in, she and Knowles were like sisters. Girl’s Tyme got more serious when the group appeared on the TV talent show Star Search in 1992.
The six members of Girl’s Tyme rehearsed for months before appearing on Star Search. They were all about 12 years old at the time, and thought the show was going to be their big break. They were crushed when they lost, but maintained frozen smiles in front of the cameras, and all cried uncontrollably once they got backstage. “We almost went crazy from crying,” Knowles wrote in Soul Survivors. “A lot was riding on that performance.” It was at that point that Mathew Knowles decided to become the girls’ manager, “because he couldn’t stand to hear me bawling anymore,” Knowles wrote. After the loss, the girls decided to call it quits—they were done with show business. Mathew Knowles convinced them to reconsider their hasty decision.
After the demise of Girl’s Tyme, the group reorganized several times, with different lineups and new names, including Somethin’ Fresh, Borderline, Cliché, the Dolls, and Destiny. At this point a quartet, they were asked to record “Killing Time” for the Men in Black movie soundtrack in 1997, and were forced to stick with the name Destiny’s Child. The lineup consisted of Knowles, Rowland, LaToya Luckett, and LaTavia Roberson. The girls were tight-lipped about the group—it was some time before even Knowles’ childhood sweetheart knew she was a performer. They felt that their music was very personal, and that it was nobody’s business but their own.
Mathew Knowles eventually quit his job to manage the group, and invested the family’s money in helping his daughter succeed. The stresses of Mathew being a husband, father, and manager took their toll on the family, and Knowles’s parents separated briefly when she was 14. Her mother moved with her, her little sister Solange, and Rowland into a small apartment. Her parents eventually reunited, and remain married. “The stability and support my parents provided when we were growing up at home has a lot to do with why Kelly and I are still around today,” Knowles wrote in Soul Survivors.
It took six years for Destiny’s Child to secure a recording contract, and it was a tough road. One of the most difficult things for Knowles, then still just a girl, was the strict diet regimen she and LaTavia had to follow. While Rowland and Roberson were wiry and could eat as they pleased, Knowles and Luckett were forced to eat nonfat foods and to abstain from fattening junk food. “It’s a shame that a kid would have to worry about her weight,” Knowles wrote in Soul Survivors, “but I was trying to get a record deal and that was a reality.”
Mathew Knowles worked hard to raise record company interest in his girls. They traveled to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland, California, regularly to perform in talent showcases, and lived in San Francisco for a couple of months to record their demo tape. Finally, when Knowles was about 14, Destiny’s Child signed with Silent Partner Productions, an Elektra imprint. The four girls moved to Atlanta, where Silent Partner was based. They continued their academic studies with a tutor in the mornings, and spent the rest of the day in the recording studio. The deal with Elektra was shortlived—just a “little taste of a career,” Knowles wrote in Soul Survivors. The group was dropped, but rallied and redoubled their efforts to get signed. A contract with Columbia Records followed in 1996, soon after the Elektra debacle.
Destiny’s Child’s first album of the same name, took two years to finish, with hot hip-hop producer Wyclef Jean at the helm. It was during this time that Columbia hired a team of stylists to spruce up the girls’ looks—to a disastrous and trendy result. Tina Knowles stepped in and became their official stylist and costume designer at this point. Not only did the girls know and trust Tina Knowles, but she also knew their personalities better, and was able to design stylish clothes that both flattered them and reflected their personal style.
The first single from Destiny’s Child, “No, No, No,” sold more than three million copies and pushed the album to gold certification for record sales. The album’s great flaw, however, was that it did not present a singular style for the group; listeners were confused about whether the group was straight R&B or hip-hop. Knowles stopped attending high school a few months into her ninth-grade year to record, rehearse, and tour. She continued her education with tutors until finishing her high school requirements in 2000.
The group’s follow-up album, The Writing’s on the Wall, released in 1999, made the serious impact that their debut had not. It featured a string of number one hits, including “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Bugaboo,” and “Jumpin’ Jumpin’,” which was Knowles’s first serious attempt at writing and producing. Fueled by the hit single “Say My Name,” the album went on to sell more than ten million copies.
1999 was a very tumultuous year for Knowles. Both Luckett and Roberson left Destiny’s Child, leaving a swirl of rumors and litigation in their wake. The media pitted them against Rowland and Knowles, and turned it into a no-holds-barred drama. Knowles remains mum on the subject other than to say that egos, emotions, competition, and money were the roots of their problems. “Once Destiny’s Child started to get successful, that’s when we found out who our friends really were,” Knowles wrote in Soul Survivors. “Our whole world changed, and that makes friendship way more complicated. Sometimes I still get mad about it, and sometimes it hurts, but it’s now to the point where it’s ridiculous,” she told Ebony. “All I want to do is go into the studio, write my music, do my movies and perform. I’m not trying to hurt anybody, or offend anybody.”
If there was an up side to the split, it was the media attention. The media had overlooked Destiny’s Child before, but with scandal and drama attached, they became a hot commodity. “Destiny’s Child was always very talented,” Knowles told Newsweek, “but I think the thing we were lacking was controversy. I think in order for your group to be successful your story has to be interesting. Our story was very squeaky clean, so I thank God for the controversy. I’m happy because it helps me sell records.” They appeared on numerous magazine covers and record sales soared. Because they were in the public eye, however, they needed to replace Luckett and Roberson swiftly, before the split upset their growing popularity. Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin rounded out the quartet in early 2000, and Destiny’s Child was back on track. Franklin left the group five months later during a publicity tour. Destiny’s Child hit the stage as a threesome at an Australian concert soon after, and never looked back. They have toured with such hit acts as Christina Aguilera and TLC.
After the media blitz about yet another Destiny’s Child lineup change died down, Knowles set to work on Survivor, the group’s third album, which she both produced and co-wrote. Knowles penned the album’s title track after a wise-cracking morning DJ quipped harshly that being a member of Destiny’s Child was like being on the reality-TV show Survivor. She wrote “Happy Face” about the face she has to put on when she gets down. “There are so many people out there who want to be in my shoes,” she wrote in Soul Survivors. “Of course, they don’t realize my shoes are uncomfortable and they give me blisters—but I can’t complain. People think I live in an MTV Barbie World, but I don’t. I am by no means a living doll.”
Knowles wrote the song “Independent Women Part I” even before the director of the film Charlie’s Angels asked the girls to contribute to the movie’s soundtrack. The song salutes hard-working women who provide for themselves rather than depending on handouts from others. It broke records worldwide and was one of the biggest-selling singles in history. Knowles was nominated for a Grammy award in 2000 for writing the song. “It seems that the songs I write because of extreme anger, happiness, or sadness become the biggest hits,” Knowles wrote in Soul Survivors. “I guess that’s because a lot of other people can relate to them. For me the studio is where I got to get stuff off my chest. It’s my therapy.” Out of five Grammy award nominations in 2000, Destiny’s Child took home two—one for best R&B song for “Say My Name,” and one for best R&B performance by a duo or group.
2001 was a banner year for Knowles. Destiny’s Child won two Grammy awards and five Billboard awards, taking home the award for artist of the year for the second year in a row. The day after the Billboard awards show, however, the press was reporting the group was through. The media pounced on a remark Knowles made about needing a break from four nonstop years of touring, recording, and promoting Destiny’s Child, and twisted it into headlines that the group was breaking up. Destiny’s Child did not break up, but the girls did take a break. Williams and Rowland each released a solo album and Knowles began developing an acting career and working on her own solo album, released in 2003.
Knowles made her acting debut as Carmen in the MTV production of Carmen: The Hip-Hopera to favorable reviews in 2001. Her major Hollywood break came with Austin Powers in Goldmember, starring comedian Mike Myers. In it, Knowles played Meyers’ sexy sidekick, secret agent Foxxy Cleopatra, who was an amalgamation of the black action film heroines of the 1970s. She also performed the film’s theme song, “Hey Goldmember.” According to the film’s producer, John Lyons, Knowles “can do anything and have this amazing career in both music and film,” he told Jet. “If she wants it.”
(Contributor) Men in Black, 1997.
Destiny’s Child, Columbia, 1998.
(Contributor) Life, 1999.
(Contributor) Why Do Fools Fall in Love?, 1999.
The Writing’s on the Wall, Columbia, 1999.
(Contributor) Charlie’s Angels, 2000.
(Contributor) Romeo Must Die, 2000.
8 Days of Christmas, Columbia, 2001.
Survivor, Columbia, 2001.
(Solo release) Dangerously In Love, Columbia, 2003.
Carmen: The Hip-Hopera, 2001.
Austin Powers in Goldmember, 2002.
The Fighting Temptations, 2003.
Knowles, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, with James Patrick Herman, Soul Survivors: The Official Autobiography of Destiny’s Child, HarperCollins, 2002.
Chicago Tribune, July 23, 2002, p. 5.10.
Ebony, July 2002, p. 36.
Jet, August 12, 2002, p. 58.
Newsweek, May 21, 2001, p. 54.
New York Times, February 23, 2001, p. E25.
People, December 25, 2000-January 1, 2001, p. 130; May 7, 2001, p. 39.
Time, January 15, 2001, p. 128.
USA Today, May 1, 2001, p. Dl; April 18, 2002, p. D2.
“Beyoncé Knowles” and “Destiny’s Child,” All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com (March 19, 2003).
Official Destiny’s Child Website, www.destinyschild.com (March 19, 2003).
From her early childhood, Beyoncé Knowles wanted to be more than a performer: she wanted to be a superstar. By the age of twenty-one, she had reached that goal, becoming world-famous not just in her chosen field of singing but also as an actress. After attaining wide success with the R&B group Destiny's Child, Knowles broke out on her own, releasing her solo debut, Dangerously in Love, in 2003. The single "Crazy in Love," featuring her boyfriend, rapper Jay-Z, was one of the biggest hits of the summer of 2003. The song propelled the album to multimillion-unit sales and earned Knowles a number of awards, including a Grammy Award and an MTV Video Music Award. In 2002 she displayed her acting abilities in the third installment of Mike Myers's Austin Powers series Austin Powers in Goldmember, starring as Foxxy Cleopatra. The following year she appeared opposite Academy Award–winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. in The Fighting Temptations. Knowles also nabbed a number of high-profile endorsement deals, acting as a spokesperson for Pepsi and for the cosmetics company L'Oréal. For all her money, fame, and critical recognition, Knowles has managed, according to friends, family, and even journalists, to hold on to her warm, genuine nature.
The search for stardom
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles was born and raised in Houston, Texas, along with her younger sister, Solange, who would later follow her sister into the entertainment industry. Her father, Mathew, worked for many years as a sales representative selling medical equipment, while her mother, Tina, worked in a bank and later opened her own beauty salon, which became one of the most successful salons in Houston. As a young child, Knowles was shy and had few friends. Her parents signed her up for a dance class when she was seven years old, "to make friends more than anything else," as Tina Knowles described to Essence. The first time Beyoncé's parents saw her perform, they were stunned. "When we saw her on stage for the first time, it was incredible. I'd never seen her so alive and confident," Tina recalled. Beyoncé had found a way to break out of her shyness, and along the way she discovered she had real talent. She began singing in—and winning—local talent contests, and soon her parents realized that performing made their daughter happy, and that she was gifted enough to have a shot at success.
"My main accomplishment is achieving peace and happiness. Sometimes you think it's success, and you think that it's being a big star. But I want respect, and I want friendship and love and laughter, and I want to grow."
In 1990, at the age of nine, Knowles auditioned for a singing group called Girl's Tyme. She won a spot with the group and began performing with them at local events. Knowles's cousin, Kelly Rowland,
Solange Knowles: Joining the Family Business
Talent runs in the Knowles family. Right on the heels of Beyoncé is her little sister, Solange, who, like her more famous sibling, has wanted to be an entertainer for as long as she can remember. She started her life as a professional performer at age thirteen when she began touring with Destiny's Child as a backup dancer. She broke into the music business soon after, releasing her first album, Solo Star, in early 2003. Solange has also participated in the theater since early childhood, acting in a number of plays. She made her big-screen debut in 2004's Johnson Family Vacation, appearing with Cedric the Entertainer, Vanessa Williams, and rapper Bow Wow.
Solange was born on June 24, 1986, in Houston, Texas. She performed in a children's dance troupe at the age of four and can clearly remember loving the attention and admiration she got from the audience. She was hooked, and knew from that moment on that she wanted to entertain people. She began writing songs since the age of seven, and at age thirteen she asked her parents to allow her to pursue a professional singing career. They suggested she wait until she was a little older. That same year, when one of the backup dancers for Destiny's Child had to drop out just before the start of a tour, Solange was chosen to fill in. She embarked on a two-year worldwide tour, accompanied by her father, the manager of the group, and her mother, the group's stylist. Her parents watched her closely, observing how Solange handled the hard work and pressures of being on tour. By its conclusion, they had decided their younger daughter was mature enough to begin her own singing career.
Solange knew her way around a recording studio, having spent time with her sister when Destiny's Child was recording. She had learned how to write and produce songs, and she put those skills to use in crafting her debut album, Solo Star. With songwriting and production help from such notable artists as the Neptunes, Timbaland, and big sister Beyoncé, Solange created a pop R&B album that showed the influence of reggae, hip-hop, and even country. The album features guest appearances from Da Brat, Lil' Romeo, and B2K.
In early 2004 Solange, at age seventeen, took a break from her career path to wed Daniel Smith, a college football player from Houston. With the rest of the Knowles family looking on, the couple were married in the Bahamas.
was also a member of Girl's Tyme, and when Rowland and her mother encountered financial problems, the Knowles family took Kelly in. The members of Girl's Tyme felt that success was close by when they participated in the television talent competition Star Search in 1992, but they did not win the contest. Believing that he could improve their chances of getting a record deal, Mathew Knowles became the group's manager and persuaded the group not to give up on their dream. Eventually he quit his job to manage the group full-time, taking them to talent competitions in Los Angeles, California, and elsewhere. He poured his energy, his time, and the family's money into the project, forcing the family to sell their house and move into an apartment. The stress of their reduced circumstances caused problems in Tina and Mathew's marriage. "I felt like the group was more important to him than his family," Tina told Essence. The couple separated for a short period, but soon realized they were miserable when apart. They reunited and have been together ever since.
Felt like Destiny
The girls' group, performing under such names as Somethin' Fresh, the Dolls, and Destiny, completed a demo recording to send to record labels. They performed wherever they could, practiced singing and dancing all the time, and, particularly for Knowles and one other girl in the group, they endured strict diets to keep their weight down. The joy they felt when they were signed to a deal in 1995 with Silent Partner Productions, a division of Elektra Records, turned to bitter disappointment when the deal fell through. In 1997, however, Columbia Records signed the group, which had settled on the name Destiny's Child. They started by recording "Killing Time," a song that appeared on the soundtrack for the blockbuster hit Men in Black. Soon they began working on their first album. In 1998 Destiny's Child—consisting of Knowles, Rowland, LaToya Luckett, and LaTavia Roberson—released their self-titled debut. Their first single, "No No No," found a huge audience, quickly selling over one million copies and reaching the top of the R&B charts. While not a smash hit, the album performed well overall, selling enough to encourage the girls to return to the studio to record a second album.
After the release of the first Destiny's Child album, the group was one among many all-female R&B groups jockeying for success, but with The Writing's on the Wall, released in 1999, they shot to superstardom. The first track, "Bills, Bills, Bills," hit number one on the R&B chart and on the pop charts as well. A subsequent song, "Say My Name," performed even better, and in 2000 Destiny's Child won two Grammy Awards. Their newfound success, however, was not enough to keep the group together. Problems concerning money and decision-making powers drove them apart, and Roberson and Luckett left Destiny's Child. They later sued the group and manager Mathew Knowles, a move that created a stir in the media. The new Destiny's Child, now including Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams, felt frustrated that so many media reports focused on the band's troubles rather than their music. In the end, however, the wave of publicity generated by the controversy resulted in more album sales for the group, and The Writing's on the Wall eventually sold more than eight million copies.
Franklin quit Destiny's Child after only a few months, leaving the group a trio. One of the problems voiced by departing members was what they considered Mathew Knowles's unfair emphasis on his daughter's career rather than that of the whole group. Whether because of her father or because of her own talent and ambition, Beyoncé had emerged as the group's most visible member. For the third album, Survivor, she took an expanded role in the writing and producing, and her increased involvement paid off. When the album came out in the spring of 2001, it shot straight to number one on the Billboard 200 album chart, spawning two hit singles with the title track and with "Bootylicious," and winning another Grammy Award. Destiny's Child soon announced that each member would pursue solo projects, although the group, which had sold more than thirty-three million records worldwide, voiced no plans to separate permanently.
In addition to beginning work on a solo album, Knowles began pursuing acting jobs. In 2001 she appeared as the title character in an MTV production called Carmen: The Hip-Hopera, a modern retelling of the nineteenth-century opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. Her next acting job exposed her to millions of filmgoers all over the world. Playing the sassy 1970s-era character Foxxy Cleopatra, Knowles helped Mike Myers capture the bad guys in Austin Powers in Goldmember in 2002. She then obtained a more substantial role in The Fighting Temptations, released in 2003. While the film did not achieve blockbuster status, it did earn more than $30 million at the box office, thanks in large part to Knowles's massive fan base. Aware of the mixed track record of other pop stars crossing over to film, Knowles took her acting seriously, working hard to improve her skills and sincerely hoping to turn in a quality performance. In an article in People, Jonathan Lynn, director of The Fighting Temptations, recalled of Knowles: "On the first day of filming she was a little nervous. She was aware that I might be treating her with kid gloves, so she took me aside and said, 'Make sure you're happy with what you get from me.'"
Also in 2003, Knowles released her debut solo recording, Dangerously in Love. With a list of impressive collaborators including Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Sean Paul, and Big Boi of the hip-hop duo Out-Kast, Knowles used the album to display a side of herself not previously seen by Destiny's Child fans—more mature, more adventurous, and with songs like "Naughty Girl" and "Baby Boy," more sensual. The breakout single, "Crazy in Love," peppered the airwaves, becoming a huge summer hit in 2003. Featuring the rapping of Jay-Z and describing the giddy feeling of falling hard for someone, the song fueled speculation that Knowles and Jay-Z were romantically linked, but the pair kept the relationship under wraps, determined to keep their personal lives private. Entertainment Weekly 's Nancy Miller praised Knowles for exploring a variety of styles on her solo outing, opting to take chances rather than simply continue in the Destiny's Child mode. "While living Dangerously in Love, " Miller reported, "[Knowles] birthed contagious hip-hop dance tracks, '70s-R&B-flavored jams, and garment-rending ballads."
The album, released in June of 2003, sold close to three million copies in the United States in its first six months. Knowles was a smash hit overseas as well, with both the "Crazy in Love" single and the album reaching the top of Billboard 's European sales charts. Knowles earned a slew of awards after the release of Dangerously in Love, taking home five Grammy Awards in 2004, including Best Contemporary R&B Album. Her five statues put her in fine company: only Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, and Norah Jones had won that many Grammy Awards in a single year. During 2004 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) nominated Knowles for five Image Awards, giving her their Entertainer of the Year honor. Knowles's accomplishments have been considerable, but so are her expectations. In an interview with CosmoGirl! she explained that her ultimate goal is to be thought of as a legend. In response to the question of what makes a celebrity into a legend, Knowles told CosmoGirl! : "When you say her name, what you think about is her star quality. She is a good person, has good spirit, and is more than just a person who performs and sells records. She's a person who will change your life." Knowles may be too young to be described as a legend, but she has joined the elite ranks of Madonna, Cher, and other single-named stars, becoming known to millions of fans simply as "Beyoncé."
For More Information
Chocano, Carina. "Destiny Awaits." Entertainment Weekly (May 30, 2003): p. 34.
Feiwell, Jill. "Working on a Dual Destiny." Daily Variety (March 5, 2004): p. A8.
Mayo, Kierna. "Beyoncé Unwrapped." Essence (August 2003): p. 122.
Miller, Nancy. "Beyoncé: Love Child." Entertainment Weekly (December 26, 2003): p. 32.
Rosenberg, Carissa. "Above and Beyoncé." CosmoGirl! (September 2002): p. 139.
Sexton, Paul. "Charts Show Europe's 'in Love' with Beyoncé." Billboard Bulletin (July 25, 2003): p. 1.
Tauber, Michelle. "Destiny's Woman." People (October 6, 2003): p. 87.
"About Solange." Solange. http://www.solangemusic.com/ (accessed June 26, 2004).
"Beyoncé." All Music Guide. http://www.allmusic.com (accessed on June 24, 2004).
"Biography." Beyoncé. http://www.beyonceonline.com/ (accessed on June 25, 2004).
Beyoncé Knowles has become such a force in popular music that she is known by just her first name. After launching her singing career at the age of 10, Beyoncé helped Destiny's Child become one of the most successful female vocal groups of all time. The group's first three R&B/pop albums sold 33 million copies before Beyoncé embarked on a solo career. With her two solo albums, and a multitude of Grammy Awards, Beyoncé has become a worldwide superstar able to ease from pop to hip-hop radio in a heartbeat. Collaborations with boyfriend Jay-Z and the best producers in the game, has earned Beyoncé comparisons to the some of the greatest female singers of all time, foreshadowing an extensive and successful career.
Born on September 4, 1981 in Houston, Texas, like many future singing stars, Beyoncé began singing in the church choir at seven years old. Born to be on a stage, she was taking dancing lessons as well when her father, Matthew Knowles, acting as manager, put together a singing group consisting of Beyoncé, her cousin Kelly Rowland, Latavia Roberson, and Letoya Luckett. Dubbed Destiny's Child, the group began performing in public as early as 1990. Beyoncé's mother, Tina Knowles, made the girls' costumes and Matthew kept the singing group on a very tight rehearsal schedule. Homeschooled until the eighth grade, Beyoncé and her friends would practice nearly every day on a stage her father built in the back yard. When she was a teen, Beyoncé attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.
Seventeen years old, and already writing songs, Beyoncé and Destiny's Child signed a deal with Columbia records to release their self-titled debut album in 1998. The following year, Destiny's Child released The Writing's on the Wall. With the hit singles "Bills, Bills, Bills," "Say My Name," and "Jumpin' Jumpin,'" The Writing's on the Wall went to sell more than six million copies and earned the group two Grammy Awards in 2000 (Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Say My Name" and Best R&B Song "Say My Name"). Soon after their success, the group would go through changes, adding and losing members over the next few years. The first Destiny's Child change up was the replacement of Luckett and Roberson by Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin (who left shortly after).
With millions of album sales under their belts, Destiny's Child was on their way to becoming one of the most successful female singing groups of all time. Now a trio, in 2001 Destiny's Child delivered the Grammy-winning album Survivor. With sales of over 4.3 million copies, Survivor issued a string of hugely popular singles, including "Independent Women Part I," "Survivor," and "Bootylicious." Although the group seemed tight knit, it was always clear from the beginning that with her voice, looks, and songwriting talent, Beyoncé was the star of the group. Beyoncé's first venture outside the group was with a starring role in the MTV made-for-TV movie Carmen: A Hip Hopera. In 2002, Beyoncé broke more ground as the second woman ever to win the ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year award.
Beyoncé's dominating beauty was a clear force on the big screen and after co-starring with Mike Myers in 2002's Austin Powers in Goldmember, offers came left and right for the singer/actress. It had been rumored that Beyoncé had a romantic relationship with hip-hop mega star Jay-Z and with her appearance on Jay-Z's 2002 single "'03 Bonnie & Clyde," it was obvious that the couple also had chemistry.
With Destiny's Child on hiatus, Beyoncé set time to write and record a solo album. In June of 2003, Columbia produced the multiplatinum album Dangerously in Love. Entering the Billboard 200 chart at number one, Beyoncé blew up radio airwaves with the singles "Crazy in Love" (featuring Jay-Z), "Me, Myself and I," "Baby Boy" (with Sean Paul), and "Naughty Girl." Beyoncé took home an incredible five Grammy Awards that year, including awards for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Best Contemporary R&B album, Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and with Luther Vandross, Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals for the duet "The Closer I Get To You." That spring, Beyoncé embarked on a solo summer tour with Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott.
With Beyoncé's success as a solo artist, many forgot about Destiny's Child. The group came out of hiding for their final album of new recordings with 2004's Destiny Fulfilled. Later issuing the hits package #1's, the trio announced that after their final tour, Destiny's Child would be no more. A much in demand solo performer, in 2005, Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder took home a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for their duet "So Amazing" (a track from the Luther Vandross Tribute album So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross). The singer also filmed the movie The Pink Panther with Steve Martin, which was released in early 2006 along with her the new single "Check on It."
When it came time for Beyoncé to work on her sophomore solo album, she wanted to do it on her own accord, without a deadline. So without telling Columbia Records or even her father, Beyoncé recorded her second album on her own dime. Wanting to step up her music a notch and break out, Beyoncé co-produced tracks with The Neptunes, Jay-Z, and Swizz Beatz. During writing and recording, Beyoncé used a method she had learned from Jay-Z in which she put all of her producers in three separate rooms in the studio at the same time. She would go back and forth between them, sharing ideas. "My ear for beats has changed," she explained to Blender. "I used to pick beats for big pop records, but that's not what I want now. My taste is more interesting since Jay."
For the Record …
Born Beyoncé Giselle Knowles on September 4, 1981 in Houston, Texas; daughter of Matthew and Tina Knowles.
With group Destiny's Child, signed to Columbia, released debut Destiny's Child, 1998, The Writing's on the Wall, 1999; won two Grammy Awards, 2000; released Survivor, won Grammy Award, 2001; as a solo artist signed to Columbia, released Dangerously in Love, won five Grammy Awards, 2003; (With Destiny's Child) released Destiny Fulfilled, 2004; released sophomore solo album B'Day, 2006. Actress in films, including MTV's Carmen: A Hip Hopera, 2001, Austin Powers in Goldmember, 2002, The Fighting Temptations, 2003, The Pink Panther, 2006, Dreamgirls, 2006.
Awards: (With Destiny's Child) Grammy Awards, Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Say My Name" and Best R&B Song for "Say My Name," 2000; Grammy Award, Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Survivor," 2001; ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year, 2002; (Solo) Grammy Awards, (With Jay-Z) Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Crazy in Love," Best Contemporary R&B album for Dangerously in Love, Best R&B Song for "Crazy in Love," Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Dangerously in Love 2," and (With Luther Vandross) Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals for "The Closer I Get To You," 2003; Grammy Award, (With Stevie Wonder), Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals for "So Amazing," 2005.
Addresses: Record company—Columbia Records, 2100 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404; 550 Madison Ave., 24th Fl., New York, NY 10022, website: http://www.columbiarecords.com. Website—Beyoncé Official Website: http://www.beyonceonline.com.
Beyoncé's second solo album, B'Day, was released on September 5, 2006, one day after her 25th birthday. B'Day, like Dangerously in Love, debuted at number one. "On … 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," wrote Judy Rosen in Entertainment Weekly. With guest vocals by Jay-Z, B'Day's first single "Deja Vu," instantly topped the charts. "I think he's one of the best rappers; he thinks I'm one of the best singers," Beyoncé told Blender about featuring Jay-Z yet again on her first single. "If you've got Jay-Z's phone number, why would you get anyone else?" Eclectic producer Swizz Beats helped to create the album's second single, "Ring the Alarm." The siren-blasting song was heated and confrontational, offering a harder edge to Beyoncé, confirming her ingenuity. "I didn't want to write some 'angry' song," Beyoncé stated on her website about the explosive "Ring the Alarm." "Swizz's track had that tough vibe, like the guy had cheated, and I wanted to write something honest. If you're in a relationship, even if the man's cheating and you end up not wanting him, the thought of another woman benefiting from the lessons you taught him. That's gonna kill you!" People's Chuck Arnold noticed the difference when he wrote that the album contained "beat-driven tracks boasting more soul, more sass and more sex appeal."
(With Destiny's Child) Destiny's Child, Columbia, 1998.
(With Destiny's Child) The Writing's on the Wall, Columbia, 1999.
(With Destiny's Child) Survivor, Columbia, 2001.
(Contributor) Carmen: A Hip Hopera (soundtrack), Columbia, 2001.
(Contributor) Austin Powers in Goldmember (soundtrack), Maverick, 2002.
(Contributor) The Fighting Temptations (soundtrack), Sony, 2003.
Dangerously in Love, Columbia, 2003.
(With Destiny's Child) Destiny Fulfilled, Columbia, 2004.
B'Day, Columbia, 2006.
(Contributor) Dreamgirls: Music from the Motion Picture (soundtrack) Columbia, 2006.
Blender, October 2006.
Essence, September 2006.
People, September 11, 2006, p. 47.
"Beyoncé," "Destiny's Child," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 10, 2006).
Beyoncé Official Website, http://www.beyonceonline.com (November 10, 2006).
"B'Day," Entertainment Weekly, http://www.ew.com/ew/article/review/music/0,6115,1516025_4_0_,00.html (November 10, 2006).