Beyoncé Giselle Knowles
Also known as
Beyoncé, Sasha Fierce
September 4, 1981 (age 27)
Houston, Texas, United States
R&B, pop, funk, hip hop, latin pop
Singer-songwriter, record producer, actress
Columbia, LBW, Sony Wonder, Sony BMG
Destiny’s Child, Jay-Z, Solange Knowles
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles (born September 4, 1981), commonly known as Beyoncé (pronounced biːˈɑn.seɪ), is an American R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. 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 girl group Destiny’s Child, the best-selling girl group of all time.
After a series of commercial successes with the group, Knowles released her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, in June 2003. The album became one of the most-successful albums of that year, spawning the number-one singles “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy”. It earned Knowles five Grammy Awards in a single night in 2004, and its reception signaled her viability as a solo artist. The disbandment of Destiny’s Child in 2005 facilitated her continued success; she released her second album, B’Day, in 2006, which spawned the UK number-one singles “Déjà Vu” and “Beautiful Liar”, and the worldwide hit “Irreplaceable”. Knowles will release her third solo album titled I Am… Sasha Fierce on November 18, 2008. Knowles has sold over 100 million records worldwide with Destiny’s Child and 25 million records as a solo artist.
The success of her solo albums has established Knowles as one of the most marketable artists in the industry. She has added acting and endorsement deals to her repertoire. In 2006, she starred in the comedy film The Pink Panther, and, in the same year, scored the main role in the film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Knowles launched in 2004 her family’s fashion line, House of Deréon, and among her many lucrative commercial deals are Pepsi, Tommy Hilfiger, and L’Oréal. Knowles has been with boyfriend Jay-Z since 2002, though they have been discreet about their relationship. After much speculation, they married on April 4, 2008.
Early life and career beginnings
A winning Knowles on local talent show
Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Mathew Knowles, a successful record manager, and Tina Beyincé, 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 and to prevent the name from becoming obsolete, since only a few of the Beyincé males carry the name. Her maternal grandparents, Lumis Albert Beyincé and Agnéz Deréon, were French-speaking Louisiana Creoles. 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 joining 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 standing ovation.
In the fall of 1990, Knowles enrolled in Parker Elementary School, a music magnate 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 neighborhood of 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 a girl 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, Gyrl’s Time 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 Gyrl’s Time 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. They participated, but lost the competition because the song they performed was not good, as 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 experienced the same fate.
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 separated 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 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 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
Destiny’s Child’s era
The appearance of Williams (in white) and Franklin (in red) in the music video of “Say My Name” led to the departure of Luckett and Roberson.
Taken 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 their 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 won 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 sophomore 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 seven 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 their temporary break-up to pursue solo projects.
Solo and career development
While Knowles was with Destiny’s Child, she also made appearances as a solo artist. In 2000, Knowles was featured on “I Got That” by rapper Amil, which was released on the latter’s debut album, All Money Is Legal. In early 2001, while Destiny’s Child was finishing 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 comedy film The Fighting Temptations, and recorded “Fighting Temptation”, alongside female rappers Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Free for its soundtrack.
That same year, Knowles was the featured vocalist on her 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.
Dangerously in Love (2003)
After Williams and Rowland released their solo efforts, Knowles dropped 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 4.2 million copies to date in the United States.
“Crazy in Love”, featuring a guest rap verse from Jay-Z, was released as the album’s lead single. It became one of the biggest hits of that summer, staying at number one 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. “Crazy in Love” became the fourth best-selling single in the U.S. in 2003. “Crazy in Love” was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and considered to be the “proudest moment” of the album.
Toward the end of the summer, “Baby Boy”, the second single from Dangerously in Love which features dancehall singer Sean Paul, began to climb the charts. It 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”. “Baby Boy” was certified as a platinum single by the Recording Industry Association of America. “Me, Myself and I” was released as the third single, and Dangerously in Love’s fourth and final single, “Naughty Girl”, came out in mid-2004. Both of the final two singles made the top five of the Billboard Hot 100. 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 shares this distinction with four other female artists: Lauryn Hill (1999), Alicia Keys (2002) Norah Jones (2003) and Amy Winehouse (2008). In 2004, she won a BRIT Award for International Female Solo Artist.
Destiny Fulfilled (2004) and group hiatus
Destiny’s Child performing the 2000 hit “Say My Name” during their farewell concert tour, Destiny Fulfilled … And Lovin’ It
In 2004, Knowles planned to release a follow-up album featuring some of the left-over recordings from Dangerously in Love. However, her musical aspirations were put on hiatus due to conflicting schedules, including her recording with Destiny’s Child for their final album. Early in that year, Knowles performed the U.S. national anthem at Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in Houston, fulfilling a childhood dream.
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 “Lose My Breath”, “Soldier”, “Girl”, and “Cater 2 U” as notable mainstream records. 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 film, featuring Slim Thug, and reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, which was first number-one hit from a soundtrack.
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. Knowles told Billboard magazine: “I’m not going to write for the album until I finish doing the movie.” 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”. The film won two 2007 Academy Awards.
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. Completed in three weeks, she co-wrote and co-produced nearly all songs included in the album.
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 also had the third-highest debut-sales total of 2006 and has been certified three-times platinum in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America. Although it was a commercial success, the relatively short time for production of the album was the subject of critical scrutiny. The Rolling Stone magazine’s Brian Hiatt said that “while the mostly up-tempo disc never lacks for energy, some of the more beat-driven tracks feel harmonically and melodically undercooked, with hooks that don’t live up to ‘Crazy in Love’ or the best Destiny’s Child hits.” Despite such criticisms, the album was complimented by others, with Gail Mitchell of Billboard magazine writing, “… throughout [the album], she romps with creative abandon, thankfully unafraid of stretching the boundaries lyrically and musically.”
The album spawned the UK number-one single “Déjà Vu”, the album’s lead single, featuring Jay-Z. “Ring the Alarm”, the second single, became her highest-charting single debut, opening at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100. Outside North America, “Irreplaceable” was released in October 2006 as the album’s second single. Like “Baby Boy”, the single received massive airplay, which helped propel it at number one. “Irreplaceable” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for ten consecutive weeks, giving Knowles her fourth number-one single. It broke the record “Baby Boy” used to have, but it failed to match Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women Part I”.
Knowles embarked on her 8 month-long The Beyoncé Experience world concert tour in support of the album.
Knowles re-released B’Day on April 3, 2007 as a deluxe edition, seven months after the release of the original version. The re-release version features new tracks, including “Beautiful Liar”, a duet with Latin superstar Shakira. The track made Billboard history when it jumped from number ninety-four to number three on the Hot 100 on April 2007; and “Amor Gitano”, a duet with Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández, used as the theme song for the Colombian telenovela, Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa. Also included in the re-release of B’Day are Spanish-language versions of “Beautiful Liar”, “Irreplaceable”, and “Listen”. Simultaneously, the B’Day Anthology Video Album was released featuring ten videos, including the director’s cut of “Listen” and the extended remix of “Get Me Bodied”. During the week of April 22, the deluxe edition of B’Day and the B’Day Anthology Video Album that includes the song “Still in Love (Kissing You)” were pulled from distribution due to a lawsuit filed by English singer Des’ree. The lawsuit is over Knowles’ cover of Des’ree’s 1998 record, “I’m Kissing You”. After the infringement issue, the present version of the re-issue does not include the track.
At the 2007 Grammy Awards, Knowles won in one of the five categories in which she was nominated, that being Best Contemporary R&B Album. The following year, she earned three nominations: Record of the Year for “Irreplaceable”, Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “Beautiful Liar” with Shakira, as well as Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for the Dreamgirls soundtrack. Knowles made history at the 35th Annual American Music Awards for being the first woman to win an International Artist Award.
In support of the album, Knowles embarked on her lengthy The Beyoncé Experience concert tour, visiting over ninety venues worldwide. She started the tour in Japan on April 10, 2007 and concluded it on December 30, 2007 in Las Vegas. The documented footage on September 2, 2007 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center was released on November 20, 2007 as The Beyoncé Experience Live! DVD.
I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008)
Knowles reportedly started working on her third studio album in December of last year. The album is titled I Am… Sasha Fierce As reported by Scratch magazine, producer Timbaland has been signed to produce the majority of the album. In an interview with producer Rodney Jerkins, he said that the style of the album keeps switching and is inspired by Knowles’ upcoming film, Cadillac Records, in which Knowles has been cast to play famed blues singer Etta James, he also mentioned that the current release date she is working at for her third album is November 2008. Knowles also recorded a cover of Billy Joel’s “Honesty” which was included on a Matthew Knowles/Music World CD released only in Japan towards the end of June 2008 to celebrate the tenth-year anniversary of Destiny’s Child. “If I Were a Boy” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, the first singles from I Am… Sasha Fierce, were released to radio on October 14, 2008, preceding the album’s release on November 18, 2008. Knowles will also star opposite Ali Larter and Idris Elba in a thriller film called Obsessed, which has been in production since May 2008. This film is due to be released in the US during January 2009, with an international release slated for March 2009.
Knowles recorded with various artist for “Just Stand Up!”, a charity single for the “Stand Up To Cancer” charity. This charity aims to raise funds for cancer research through the acts and offerings of the celebrity world. Joining Knowles on this charity single was Mariah Carey, Natasha Bedingfield, Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Leann Rimes and Mary J. Blige. The song was brought to public attention recently when it was performed live by most of the stars at Fashion Rocks 2008 in New York City—this show was broadcast simultaneously on all major American networks on September 5, 2008.
House of Deréon
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 seamstress. According to Tina Knowles, the overall style of the line best reflects Beyoncé’s 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 Beyond Productions, her family’s company, which provided 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 have sent letters to her, pleading to stop using fur in her clothing line. In one incident, PETA set up a dinner with her and fans, who were actually a connivance from the organization. Knowles was confronted with PETA representatives, with whom the latter was escorted out after Tina Knowles came in. The incident generated mixed responses; Knowles did not respond to the issues, although her father was reportedly fighting back.
Products and endorsements
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 signed with cosmetics company L’Oréal in 2003, earning her about $1 million. She launched her own fragrance called True Star, a Tommy Hilfiger scent, 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.
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.
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.
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 7 year old musical sensation dedicated and performed “Over the Rainbow” to Knowles.
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 and 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.
Style and image
Music and voice
Knowles has cited various classic artists who influenced her music. She grew up listening to songs of Anita Baker and Luther Vandross, the latter whom she eventually collaborated with. She was exposed to the jazz music of Rachelle Ferrell, after singing the Ferrell’s songs during her voice lessons. She also cites influences from American artists Prince, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson,Selena, Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Diana Ross, Donna Summer and Tina Turner, with whom the former and latter she co-performed during the 46th Grammy Awards and the 50th Grammy Awards.
Knowles singing “Dangerously in Love 2”, one of her songs usually performed with improvisation of high notes
Knowles, a mezzo-soprano with a 3.5 octave vocal range, 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. James Anthony of The Guardian called her voice distinctive and fast, with almost hiccuping vocal technique. Andrew Leahey of Allmusic called her siren-voiced, while The Sydney Morning Herald wrote that she has a “husky” and “Southern-accented” voice. The Cove magazine ranked Knowles as their seventh among one hundred outstanding pop vocalists worldwide, giving her forty-eight out of fifty points based on several criteria ranging from her vocal ability to ranges to harmony.
Knowles’ music is predominantly considered contemporary R&B, but has also included genres of dance-pop, funk, pop and soul. 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. She sang in French once at the Oscars, having also learned it through coaching.
Songwriting and producing
Since Destiny’s Child, Knowles has been artistically involved in her career. She co-wrote 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 co-produced most of the records in which she has been involved, especially during her solo efforts. Although she does not formulate beats and melodies herself, she typically comes up with ideas during production, sharing them with producers.
Knowles was recognized as a song-writer during the run of Destiny’s Child in the 1990s and early to mid-2000s. She won the 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 overall female songwriter of all time to accomplish that feat. Knowles received three song-writing credits in a single year for co-writing “Irreplaceable”, “Grillz” 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.
Despite her songwriter credits since Destiny’s Child, her involvement was a subject of media scrutiny. An issue of Vanity Fair magazine, which happened to feature Knowles on its cover, fueled issues regarding her song-writing credits. In the magazine, she says, “I had written … seven, eight number one songs with Destiny’s Child, in a row.” Roger Friedman of FOX News questioned the veracity of her statement. One argument of Friedman involved the credit given to Knowles on her hit “Crazy in Love”. He pointed out that the song was written by Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites and was only sampled by Rich Harrison, who produced the track. In a 2004 MTV news report, it was stated, “… Harrison stepped up and wrote the verses and the hook, leaving the bridge for Beyoncé.” Friedman also cited songs from Destiny’s Child and her solo recordings in his arguments. Another issue spread after Knowles’ name was discredited for a nomination given to “Listen” at the 2007 Academy Awards. The Academy’s ruling explained that only three major contributors should be recognized during the awards process, and Knowles was the least among the four.
When the song, “If I Were a Boy” initially premiered, Fox News ran a story stating that Toby Gad stole the song from unknown artist, BC Jean after a failed agreement. The articles continues to state that Jean was unaware that Knowles recorded the track. Neither Jean nor Gab have released statements concerning this matter.
Knowles performing at the 2007 The Beyoncé Experience, flanked by her dancers. Also appearing here is her all-female tour band, Suga Mama.
In an article entitled “Born to Entertain”, Knowles, alongside classic and contemporary entertainers, was complimented for her stage performances. Amidst notable appearances, however, Knowles often receives criticisms. Pareles says, “Beyoncé can’t keep up with the complex rhythms; onstage, she kept falling behind.” 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.
In 2006, Knowles introduced her all-female tour band Suga Mama. In the months prior to the release of B’Day, she held an audition among female musicians across the United States, which concluded in June. The performing ensemble includes bassists, drummers, guitarists, horn players, keyboardists and percussionists. They debuted in public at the 2006 BET Awards and they re-appeared in the music video for “Irreplaceable” and “Green Light”. The band backed up Knowles during her 2007 The Beyoncé Experience world concert tour, and, in addition, they have appeared in small shows wherever Knowles has performed.
Knowles is one of the most regarded sexually appealing artists in the industry. She has been known in media for her curvaceous body that is complemented with her choice of clothing and has been tagged as famous for it. 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 Video Album 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.
Knowles holds the distinction as the first non model and non athlete to pose for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Despite all her accomplishments, Knowles has been a source of rumors and a subject of public ridicule throughout her career. As one of the most media-exposed black artists in the United States, Knowles has often received criticism due to racism and sexism. A fan of hers points out, “[Knowles] portrays herself as a sex symbol rather than an artist.” Toure of the 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 also provoked issues 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”.
A wax sculpture of Beyoncé has gone on display at the London Madame Tussauds as part of a new music area at the museum. In part of Tussauds’ museum opening, Knowles was brought to the Washington D.C alongside many figures of artists. Knowles was exhibited in a nightclub setting inside the museum, backgrounded with her music videos.
Knowles is referred by some to various monikers. After the Destiny’s Child single “Bootylicious” released publicly and gained commercial success, she was subsequently called by that name. Although the group popularized the word, record producer Dr. Dre and rapper Snoop Dogg coined it on his song “Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)” from his 1992 album, The Chronic. A portmanteau of “booty” (buttocks) and “delicious”, Knowles defined bootylicious: “It’s all about attitude and feeling good about yourself and not looking like everybody on TV.” Eventually, the Oxford English Dictionary published the slang term; however, their interpretation is in the literal way: “… is an adjective … used to describe a woman, her backside, and her overall physical appearance.” Knowles is known to her friends as “B”, and, in some songs like “’03 Bonnie and Clyde” and “Love in This Club, Part II”, is referred to as such and “Queen B”.
Destiny’s Child (1998)
The Writing’s on the Wall (1999)
Destiny Fulfilled (2004)
Dangerously in Love (2003)
I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008)
Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001), Carmen Brown – television film
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), Foxxy Cleopatra
The Fighting Temptations (2003), Lilly
Fade to Black (2004), herself – documentary about Jay-Z
The Pink Panther (2006), Xania
Dreamgirls (2006), Deena Jones
Cadillac Records (2008), Etta James
Obsessed (2009), Beth Charles
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