Family & Companions
To quote one of her hit songs, Beyoncé Knowles was an "Irreplaceable" artist, excelling as a vocalist, songwriter, fashion designer, model, actress and all around tabloid icon. The Texas-born Knowles, with her china doll beauty, athletic body and powerful pipes, became a true superstar in a very short time. Starting her career in the late-1990s as lead singer of the R&B group, Destiny's Child - one of the most successful girl groups of all time - and later, triumphing as a solo star in music and film, Knowles added award-winning songwriter and accomplished fashion designer to her résumé, giving similar entrepreneurial divas like Jennifer Lopez a run for their money. In the spring of 2007, Knowles even appeared on the coveted cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition - a first for a non-supermodel - as well as basked in the critical glow for her parts in films like "Dreamgirls" (2006) and "Cadillac Records" (2008). But it was her enormous success in music that truly set her apart with chart-topping solo efforts Dangerously in Love (2003), B'Day (2006) and the multi-Grammy winning I Am.Sasha Fierce (2008). With such mountainous success, Knowles was often seen in the tabloid media, particularly in regard to her relationship and later marriage to rapper and record mogul, Jay Z. Whether it was her music, movies or product lines, there was no doubt that Knowles was one of the most commercially and critically successful artists of her day. Her surprise release of her 2013 self-titled album set a new industry standard for how albums could be released and promoted. The 2016 follow-up Lemonade went one further, by dealing with traumas both public (the police shootings of unarmed black youths) and private (repeated coded references to Jay Z's reported philandering) in her most personal and impassioned alum so far.
Named after her mother's surname, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles was born in Houston, TX on Sept. 4, 1981. The eldest daughter of Matthew and Tina Knowles, the future superstar also had a younger sister, Solange, who would go on to make a name for herself as an actress in films like "Johnson Family Vacation" (2004). The local church served as a platform for Knowles to hone her obvious talents; at age seven, she was singing in the choir as well as taking dance classes. Along with childhood friend Kelly Rowland, Knowles started a singing and dancing group that was managed by her father. Two other girls - Latavia Roberson and Letoya Luckett - joined the group and the quartet went on to perform in neighbors' backyards and in Tina's hair salon. At that time, they were coined Girl's Tyme, but would eventually change it to Destiny's Child.
The girls had their first big break by appearing on the nationally televised show "Star Search" (CBS, 1983-2004). Girl's Tyme did not win the competition, so Knowles' father decided to quit his salesman job and manage his daughter's group full time. They were signed to Columbia Records in 1996 and with the new name of Destiny's Child, made their recording debut with the single, "Killing Time," which appeared on the soundtrack for the 1997 film "Men in Black." They enjoyed their first taste of Billboard success with the song "No, No, No Part 2" off their self-titled first album. However, follow-up singles "With Me Part 1" and "Get on the Bus" failed to reproduce the success of "No, No, No." Despite that fact, the LP eventually sold more than two million copies worldwide and the group garnered three Soul Train Awards in 1998. Though thought of as yet another one-hit-wonder girl band, when Destiny's Child's second album The Writing's On the Wall was released in 1999, it spawned multiple hits including two No. 1's: "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Say My Name." The group won several awards for their sophomore effort, including Grammys for Best R&B Performance by Duo or Group and Best R&B Song. Touring also became a big part of the group's schedule, with the ladies serving as opening acts to superstars like TLC and Christina Aguilera.
Unfortunately, just as they were about to truly break through, original members Roberson and Luckett decided to leave the group, citing unhappiness with Matthew Knowles' management. Two new members were brought in - Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin - and Destiny's Child was a foursome yet again. While the second record was still enjoying chart success, the former members took Knowles and the management team to court, citing financial issues and unfairness in how they were treated in the group. After just five months in Destiny's Child, Franklin quit due to personal reasons. The group became a trio and it would stay that way into its third album and beyond. In October 2001, Knowles, Rowlands and Williams recorded the theme song to the film version of the popular television series, "Charlie's Angels" (2000), starring Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz. The song "Independent Women, Part 1" spent 11 weeks at the top of the charts. Their third album, Survivor, followed on its heels, solidifying Destiny's Child as one of the most successful girl groups at that time. Knowles wrote and produced several tracks as well, winning Songwriter of the Year from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. She was the first African-American female and only the second female songwriter to be so honored. Other hits spawned by Survivor included the infectious (and quietly mocked) "Bootylicious;" a cover of the Bee Gees-penned '70s hit, "Emotion" (originally recorded by Samantha Sang), and the catchy title song.
Because the spotlight was consistently on Knowles as the more dynamic lead in a female trio, she was often compared to Diana Ross, while the other members were treated as backup singers. The ladies answered back by appearing on the cover of Vibe magazine looking glamorously reminiscent of the Supremes in full sixties garb. And as always, Rowland and Williams would publicly decry any rancor or professional jealousy, claiming they were long-time friends and nothing would come between them. Whether this was true or not, Destiny's Child remained strong by focusing on their music and looking fabulous as a trio, decked out in similar fashions designed by mom, Tina. That same year, Knowles was offered the part of Carmen in the MTV film, "Carmen: A Hip Hopera," a modern day version of the famous opera. It would mark her first foray into acting, using her full name as her stage moniker. A year later, the promise she showed in "Carmen" lit up the big screen in "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002). As sassy and sexy super agent Foxxy Cleopatra - an homage to roles made famous by Pam Grier in films such as "Coffy" (1973) and "Foxy Brown" (1974) - the afro-sporting Knowles showed off an unexpected comedic timing and grace, more than holding her own alongside the film's star, Mike Myers.
The year 2003 was a good one for Knowles.She delivered a one-two punch with the release of yet another movie and, more importantly, her first solo album. At the time, everyone speculated that a solo album meant the end of Destiny's Child, despite Knowles' promises to the contrary. On a singular roll, she co-starred with Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the lighthearted film, "The Fighting Temptations," in which she and Gooding attempt to revive a town's choir traditions in a modern society. Though it did not do as well box office-wise as "Austin Powers," Knowles was once again singled out as a natural onscreen talent. Her solo album, Dangerously in Love, on the other hand, became one of the biggest recording hits of the year, fueled by songs like "Crazy in Love," "Naughty Girl," and "Baby Boy." The album was certified platinum within just three weeks of its release. Her sexy, see-thru top on the album's cover was impossible to ignore, signaling a new, sexier image for the diva. Not unexpectedly, Dangerously in Love won a record-tying (with former winners Lauryn Hill in 1999, Alicia Keys in 2002 and Norah Jones in 2003) five Grammy awards in early 2004, including two for its songs and one for Best Contemporary R&B Album.
Even more titillating than her career, was her personal life. In addition to constant rumors of discord between the group members and the alleged Svengali-like hold Matthew Knowles held over his daughter, the press followed her love life as she jetted around the world - particularly as she began dating rapper/producing impresario, Jay-Z, in 2003. The singers initially denied any romance, but photos of the couple spending vacations together proved beyond a doubt that things were progressing between hip-hop's royal couple. They even recorded a song together, the not-so-subtle, "03 Bonnie and Clyde." Good on her word, it did not take long for Knowles to return to the studio with Destiny's Child. In 2004, the group released their fourth album, Destiny Fulfilled. It was bittersweet for both the ladies and their fans because it would be the group's last recorded album. Like its predecessors, it spawned hits like "Lose My Breath" and "Soldier," followed by a massive world tour. Their final album # 1s was released in October 2005 as a thank you to their fans and became the best-selling "greatest hits" album by any female group in the history of recorded music.
Knowles again delivered a one-two punch in 2006 with a brand new solo album and a knockout performance on the big screen. She released the album B'Day on Sept. 4, 2006 - coincidentally, her 25th birthday. There was no sophomore curse for this artist, as hits like "Ring the Alarm" and "Irreplaceable" kept her on the top of the music charts. Adding to the charmed year, Knowles also starred in the blockbuster musical, "Dreamgirls," a film adaptation of the popular Broadway production. Playing Deena Jones, a member of a fictional Sixties' girl group that rose to fame but found there were certain prices to pay along the way, Knowles considered Deena the role of a lifetime. She was top-billed, along with actors Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy. Former "American Idol" (Fox, 2002-16) contestant Jennifer Hudson also starred in the movie and won multiple awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Effie White. A slightly over-shadowed Knowles also garnered nominations for her performance, including a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. Like it had when she was a member of Destiny's Child, the media worked up a bit of professional jealousy between the big star and the up-and-coming ingénue. Both Knowles and Hudson denied a rift repeatedly when promoting their film.
Acting awards may have slipped through her fingers, but Knowles proved she was still the darling of the Grammys when she won Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group at the 2006 award show for the song "So Amazing," a duet with Stevie Wonder from the Luther Vandross tribute album, So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross. In February 2007, Knowles won the sought after cover of the Sport Illustrated swimsuit edition. The singer-actress became the second African-American woman to land the coveted title. With everything she had accomplished so far, including starting the PETA-bashing fashion line House of Deréon with her mother, Knowles remained grateful to her family and upbringing and devoted to her fans. Back to acting, she delivered a more than passable performance as Etta James in the musical biopic, "Cadillac Records" (2008), and had a phenomenal recording year with I Am.Sasha Fierce (2008), which was an international bestseller, spawning two major singles, "If I Were a Boy" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," which ultimately earned her five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
Perhaps even bigger news than I Am.Sasha Fierce was Knowles' marriage to Jay-Z in April 2008, though the ceremony was kept quiet until later that September. Meanwhile, Knowles emerged as one of the most financially successful artists working in the business, often found near the top of every list accounting for power and influence among celebrities and artists. After co-starring in the low-budget thriller "Obsessed" (2009) and taking a bit of a break from touring the world in 2010, she had her fourth consecutive No. 1 album with the release of 4 in 2011. Also that year, word spread that she and Jay-Z were expecting their first child, a girl who was later born Blue Ivy Carter on Jan. 7, 2012. Their daughter's cries were featured on Jay-Z's single, "Glory," making her - at two days old - the youngest person to appear on a Billboard-charting song. The new mom was recognized the following month when she garnered two nominations at the 2012 Grammy Awards for the single "Party" and the concert video "I Am. World Tour." In May of that year, Knowles made a triumphal return to stage for the first time since the birth of her child with "Revel Presents: Beyoncé Live," a consecutive four-night performance that marked the opening of Atlantic City's new Revel Resort. Over the course of an increasingly busy year, Knowles maintained a high-profile as the face of several humanitarian causes and campaigned heavily on behalf of incumbent president Barack Obama in the months preceding the fall election.
Longtime fans had reason to celebrate in the New Year when Destiny's Child released the compilation CD Love Songs in January 2013. Clearly gearing up for an all-out media assault, Beyoncé was suddenly everywhere, for better or worse. A performance of the American national anthem at President Obama's second inauguration drew flack when it was later revealed that the superstar had been singing along to a pre-recorded track - a precaution made necessary, she insisted, by inadequate rehearsal time, tape delays and unpredictable weather. After singing the anthem again live at a press conference for the upcoming Super Bowl XLVII, Knowles looked to redeem herself with a blistering performance that she made clear was to be performed absolutely live. When the New Orleans Superdome suddenly lost all power minutes after her incendiary halftime show, many wondered whether the diva's show had literally been more than the venue could handle. The media blitz culminated with the singer's autobiographical documentary "Life is But a Dream" (HBO, 2013). Conceived, produced, directed and filmed in part by Knowles herself, it chronicled her recent career, the painful estrangement from her father, the production of her latest album and the birth of Blue Ivy. While fans tuned in by the millions for a glimpse at their idol's inner circle, several critics viewed the film as little more than an ingenious publicity tool, with Beyoncé deftly controlling her own image like no other entertainer had before. Later that year, Beyoncé released her self-titled fifth album in an exciting new fashion, springing it on her audience as an end-of-year surprise available as a download immediately, several weeks before its physical release in stores. The resulting buzz solidified her reputation as one of music's reigning stars. Following the release of the teaser single "Formation," which she performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in February 2016, Beyoncé's sixth album, Lemonade, premiered as an album-length video on HBO in April 2016. before being physically released on May 6, 2016. The album's melding of political activism, female empowerment, and repeated references to Jay Z's reported affairs was instantly controversial, making it a talking point in both the gossip pages and op-ed sections, and received the strongest positive reviews of Beyoncé's entire career so far.
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Signed to Columbia Records
Released first album <i>Destiny's Child</i>; album went platinum
Reached Billboard top 10 with group's sophomore album <i>The Writing's on the Wall</i>
Replaced two original Destiny's Child members (Roberson and LeToya Luckett) with Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin; reconfigured as a trio with Franklin's departure
Made acting debut as the lead in "Carmen: A Hip Hopera," an MTV made-for-television film
Replaced Britney Spears as the Pepsi spokesperson
Landed feature film debut, as Foxxy Cleopatra in "Austin Powers in Goldmember"
Received 6 Grammy nominations, including Record Of The Year for her debut solo album <i>Crazy In Love</i>
Starred as a single mother and the love interest to Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character in "The Fighting Temptations"
Performed "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXXVIII from Reliant Stadium in Houston
Earned five Grammy nominations, two as a solo artist and three for <i>Destiny Fulfilled</i>, the final album for Destiny's Child
Co-starred with Steve Martin in a prequel to the 1964 Peter Sellers original film "The Pink Panther"
Starred as Deena, the Diana Ross-like lead in "Dreamgirls," an adaptation of the Broadway musical; received Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and Best Original Song for <i>Listen</i>
Released second solo album <i>B'Day</i>, which hit U.S. stores one day after her 25th birthday; earned 4 Grammy nominations
Released third studio album <i>I Am Sasha Fierce</i>; earned 10 Grammy nominations, including Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Album
Portrayed singer and songwriter Etta James in the musical biopic "Cadillac Records"; earned a Golden Globe nomination for performing the song "Once in a Lifetime"
Co-starred in the thriller "Obsessed"
Released fourth solo album <i>4</i>
Voiced Queen Tara in animated hit "Epic"
Released <i>Beyoncé</i> without fanfare as a digital download, including a video for every song; physical CD was released several weeks later.
Released film and album project <i>Lemonade</i>