Beyonce

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Lamb, Bill. "Beyonce." ThoughtCo, Nov. 30, 2016, thoughtco.com/beyonce-biography-3244680. Lamb, Bill. (2016, November 30). Beyonce. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/beyonce-biography-3244680 Lamb, Bill. "Beyonce." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/beyonce-biography-3244680 (accessed September 26, 2017).
Beyonce
Beyonce. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Born

September 4, 1981 in Houston, Texas as Beyonce Knowles.

Growing Up

Beyonce's parents are Matthew and Tina Knowles. With encouragement from her parents, Beyonce began performing by the age of seven and was soon winning local dancing and singing competitions. She formed an act called GirlTyme with LaTavia Roberson in 1990. Matthew Knowles elected to manage the duo. Kelly Rowland joined the act and they landed an appearance on the Star Search talent competition.

LeToya Luckett joined in 1993 and the group became Destiny's Child.

Destiny's Child

Destiny's Child were successful performing in clubs in the Houston area. In 1997 Columbia Records offered the group a contract. By the end of 1998 the group had reached the top of the R&B chart and #3 on the pop chart with the single "No, No, No, Pt. 2." Destiny's Child became one of the top selling recording acts of the late 1990's and early 2000's with over 10 top 10 pop hit singles. The group officially announced their breakup in 2005.

Top Beyonce Singles

  • 2003 - "Crazy In Love" (featuring Jay-Z) - #1
  • 2003 - "Baby Boy" (featuring Sean Paul) - #1
  • 2003 - "Me, Myself and I" - #4
  • 2004 - "Naughty Girl" - #3
  • 2006 - "Deja Vu" (featuring Jay-Z) - #4
  • 2006 - "Irreplaceable" - #1
  • 2006 - "Beautiful Liar" (featuring Shakira) - #3
  • 2008 - "If I Were a Boy" - #3
  • 2008 - "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" - #1
  • 2009 - "Halo" - #5
  • 2013 - "Drunk In Love" - #2

    Beyonce Solo

    In 2002 Beyonce was the featured vocalist on the single "'03 Bonnie and Clyde" by Jay-Z. Then, with Destiny's Child officially on hiatus, she released a solo album Dangerously in Love. Propelled by its first single, the #1 smash "Crazy in Love," the album hit #1 in the U.S. and U.K. eventually selling over four million copies in the U.S. and eight million worldwide.

    Three more top 10 pop singles from the album followed in quick succession.

    Awards and Achievements

    • First African-American woman to win ASCAP's (songwriting industry association) Songwriter of the Year award
    • 20 Grammy Awards, the second most of any woman in history
    • First female artist to have a #1 single and album simultaneously in both the U.S. and U.K.
    • 2004 NAACP Image Awards Entertainer of the Year
    • Inaugural Billboard Millenium Award in 2011
    • 2014 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards

    Actress

    Beyonce's first major acting appearance was in a starring role in the 2001 TV movie Carmen: A Hip Hopera, an update of the opera Carmen. In 2002 she appeared with Mike Myers as Foxxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers in Goldmember. A third film appearance was released in 2003. Beyonce appeared opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr. in The Fighting Temptations. Her biggest acting success came in the 2006 film Dreamgirls which earned multiple Academy Awards. She also starred as Etta James in Cadillac Records in 2008.

    B'Day

    Beyonce's second studio album B'Day was released on her 25th birthday September 4, 2006. The entire album was recorded in just two weeks. It sold over 500,000 copies in its first week of release and debuted at #1 on the album chart.

    The lead single "Deja Vu," a collaboration with Jay-Z in the manner of "Crazy In Love" from her first album, was a top 5 pop smash. The third single "Irreplaceable" hit #1 and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album.

    I Am...Sasha Fierce

    Beyonce's third studio album I Am...Sasha Fierce was released as two discs. Each was designed to show a different facet of Beyonce's work. The first disc I Am is mostly slow and midtempo ballads while the second Sasha Fierce, named after an in-concert alter ego, includes more uptempo tracks and influences from electronic pop music. The album debuted at #1 on the album chart selling nearly 500,000 copies in its first week making it Beyonce's third consecutive #1. I Am...Sasha Fierce earned seven Grammy Award nominations and won six of them.

     

    Two of the standout tracks on the album are "If I Were a Boy," a gender reversal song that spells out the inequality of male-female relationships and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)." The latter was accompanied by a music video that became an instant classic. Beyonce's performance with her dancers has been repeated and parodied by admirers around the world. 

    4

    Beyonce's highly anticipated fourth studio album was titled simply 4. She steered away from mainstream commercial concerns and recorded music heavily influenced by traditional R&B. Part of her inspiration in recording the album was disappointment with contemporary radio. Critics praised her commitment to the traditional style of music. The song "Love On Top" earned a Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance. 

    Despite the critical acclaim, 4 lagged commercially compared with Beyonce's first three albums. It sold just over 300,000 copies in its first week and debuted at #1, making Beyonce only the second woman, after Britney Spears, to have her first four albums debut at the top, but it lacked major hit singles to keep the sales up. "Best Thing I Never Had" was the most successful single peaking at #16.

    Beyonce Audio and Video Album

    Beyonce shocked the music world on December 13, 2013 by releasing her self-titled fifth studio album without out advance notice or promotion. It debuted at #1 on the album chart selling over 600,000 copies in its first week, the best first week sales of Beyonce's career. She was praised for her expression of full artistic freedom on the album and diving deeper into her personal concerns about female empowerment.

    With 17 short films created to illustrate the 14 audio tracks, Beyonce became a visual as well as audio album breaking new ground for pop artists. Two singles were promoted along with the initial release of the album. "XO" was promoted primarily to pop audiences while "Drunk In Love" was aimed at R&B audiences. The latter became the hit fast eclipsing the former and peaking at #2.

    It was Beyonce's highest charting single in five years. The album earned five Grammy Award nominations including for Album of the Year.

    Lemonade

    Beyonce's sixth studio album Lemonade was released as a second visual album in April, 2016 and is also considered a concept album. It was promoted with a one hour film on HBO. The album is influenced by a wide range of musical styles and includes guest vocals from James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and Jack White. Lemonade became Beyonce's sixth consecutive album to debut at #1 selling 485,000 copies in its first week. 

    The song "Formation" was released as the lead single from the project two months before the album. The next day Beyonce performed it live at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. She received some criticism for what was considered a militant statement about the treatment of black people. "Formation" reached the top 10 on the pop singles chart.