Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter born September 4, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child and rose to fame in the late 1990s as lead singer of R&B girl-group Destiny’s Child. Managed by her father, Mathew Knowles, the group became one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. Their hiatus saw the release of Beyoncé’s debut album, Dangerously in Love (2003), which established her as a solo artist worldwide, earned five Grammy Awards and featured the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles «Crazy in Love» and «Baby Boy«.
Following the disbandment of Destiny’s Child in June 2005, she released her second solo album, B’Day (2006), which contained hits «Déjà Vu«, «Irreplaceable«, and «Beautiful Liar«. Beyoncé also ventured into acting, with a Golden Globe-nominated performance in Dreamgirls (2006) and starring roles in The Pink Panther (2006) and Obsessed (2009). Her marriage to rapper Jay Z and portrayal of Etta James in Cadillac Records (2008) influenced her third album, I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008), which saw the birth of her alter-ego Sasha Fierce and earned a record-setting six Grammy Awards in 2010, including Song of the Year for «Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)«. Beyoncé took a hiatus from music in 2010 and took over management of her career; her fourth album 4 (2011) was subsequently mellower in tone, exploring 1970s funk, 1980s pop, and 1990s soul. Her critically acclaimed fifth album, Beyoncé (2013), was distinguished from previous releases by its experimental production and exploration of darker themes. Her sixth album, Lemonade (2016), was released in conjunction with a short film of the same name.
A self-described «modern-day feminist«, her musical repertoire is often characterized by themes of love, relationships, and monogamy, as well as female sexuality and empowerment. Her dynamic and highly choreographed on-stage performances have led many critics to consider her one of the most effective entertainers in contemporary popular music. Throughout a career spanning 19 years, she has sold over 100 million records as a solo artist, and a further 60 million with Destiny’s Child, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She has won 20 Grammy Awards and is the most nominated woman in the award show’s history. The Recording Industry Association of America recognized her as the Top Certified Artist in America during the 2000s (decade). In 2009, Billboard named her the Top Radio Songs Artist of the Decade, the Top Female Artist of the 2000s (decade) and received their Millennium Award in 2011. Time listed her among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2013 and 2014. Forbes magazine also listed her as the most powerful female musician of 2015.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, to Celestine «Tina» Knowles (née Beyincé), a hairdresser and salon owner, and Mathew Knowles, a Xerox sales manager. Beyoncé’s name is a tribute to her mother’s maiden name. Beyoncé’s younger sister Solange is also a singer and a former member of Destiny’s Child. Mathew is African-American, while Tina is of Louisiana Creole descent (African, Native American, and French), and distant Irish and Spanish ancestry. Through her mother, Beyoncé is a descendant of Acadian leader Joseph Broussard. She was raised in a Methodist household.
Beyoncé attended St. Mary’s Montessori School in Houston, where she enrolled in dance classes. Her singing talent was discovered when dance instructor Darlette Johnson began humming a song and she finished it, able to hit the high-pitched notes. Beyoncé’s interest in music and performing continued after winning a school talent show at age seven, singing John Lennon‘s «Imagine» to beat 15/16-year-olds. In fall of 1990, Beyoncé enrolled in Parker Elementary School, a music magnet school in Houston, where she would perform with the school’s choir. She also attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and later Alief Elsik High School. Beyoncé was also a member of the choir at St. John’s United Methodist Church as a soloist for two years.
1990–96: Girl’s Tyme
When Beyoncé was eight, she and childhood friend Kelly Rowland met LaTavia Roberson while in an audition for an all-girl entertainment group. They were placed into a group with three other girls as Girl’s Tyme, and rapped and danced on the talent show circuit in Houston. After seeing the group, R&B producer Arne Frager brought them to his Northern California studio and placed them in Star Search, the largest talent show on national TV at the time. Girl’s Tyme failed to win, and Beyoncé later said the song they performed was not good.
In 1995 Beyoncé’s father resigned from his job to manage the group. The move reduced Beyoncé’s family’s income by half, and her parents were forced to move into separated apartments. Mathew cut the original line-up to four and the group continued performing as an opening act for other established R&B girl groups. The girls auditioned before record labels and were finally signed to Elektra Records, moving to Atlanta Records briefly to work on their first recording, only to be cut by the company. This put further strain on the family, and Beyoncé’s parents separated. On October 5, 1995, Dwayne Wiggins‘s Grass Roots Entertainment signed the group. In 1996, the girls began recording their debut album under an agreement with Sony Music, the Knowles family reunited, and shortly after, the group got a contract with Columbia Records.
1996–2001: Destiny’s Child
The group changed their name to Destiny’s Child in 1996, based upon a passage in the Book of Isaiah. In 1997, Destiny’s Child released their major label debut song «Killing Time» on the soundtrack to the 1997 film, Men in Black. The following year, the group released their self-titled debut album, scoring their first major hit «No, No, No«. The album established the group as a viable act in the music industry, with moderate sales and winning the group three Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards for Best R&B/Soul Album of the Year, Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist, and Best R&B/Soul Single for «No, No, No». The group released their multi-platinum second album The Writing’s on the Wall in 1999. The record features some of the group’s most widely known songs such as «Bills, Bills, Bills«, the group’s first number-one single, «Jumpin’ Jumpin’» and «Say My Name«, which became their most successful song at the time, and would remain one of their signature songs. «Say My Name» won the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and the Best R&B Song at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards. The Writing’s on the Wall sold more than eight million copies worldwide. During this time, Beyoncé recorded a duet with Marc Nelson, an original member of Boyz II Men, on the song «After All Is Said and Done» for the soundtrack to the 1999 film, The Best Man.
LeToya Luckett and Roberson became unhappy with Mathew’s managing of the band and eventually were replaced by Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams. Beyoncé experienced depression following the split with Luckett and Roberson after being publicly blamed by the media, critics, and blogs for its cause. Her long-standing boyfriend left her at this time. The depression was so severe it lasted for a couple of years, during which she occasionally kept herself in her bedroom for days and refused to eat anything. Beyoncé stated that she struggled to speak about her depression because Destiny’s Child had just won their first Grammy Award and she feared no one would take her seriously. Beyoncé would later speak of her mother as the person who helped her fight it. Franklin was dismissed, leaving just Beyoncé, Rowland, and Williams.
The remaining band members 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 U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for eleven consecutive weeks. In early 2001, while Destiny’s Child was completing their third album, Beyoncé 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. When the third album Survivor was released in May 2001, Luckett and Roberson filed a lawsuit claiming that the songs were aimed at them. The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 663,000 copies sold. 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 in October 2001, the group announced a hiatus to further pursue solo careers.
2001–07: Dangerously in Love, B’Day, and Dreamgirls
In July 2002, Beyoncé continued her acting career playing Foxxy Cleopatra alongside Mike Myers in the comedy film Austin Powers in Goldmember, which spent its first weekend atop the US box office and grossed $73 million. Beyoncé released «Work It Out» as the lead single from its soundtrack album which entered the top ten in the UK, Norway, and Belgium. In 2003, Beyoncé starred opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr., in the musical comedy The Fighting Temptations as Lilly, a single mother with whom Gooding’s character falls in love. The film received mixed reviews from critics but grossed $30 million in the U.S. Beyoncé released «Fighting Temptation» as the lead single from the film’s soundtrack album, with Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Free which was also used to promote the film. Another of Beyoncé’s contributions to the soundtrack, «Summertime», fared better on the US charts.
Beyoncé’s first solo recording was a feature on Jay Z‘s «’03 Bonnie & Clyde» that was released in October 2002, peaking at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Her first solo album Dangerously in Love was released on June 24, 2003, after Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland had released their solo efforts. The album sold 317,000 copies in its first week, debuted atop the Billboard 200, and has since sold 11 million copies worldwide. The album’s lead single, «Crazy in Love», featuring Jay Z, became Beyoncé’s first number-one single as a solo artist in the US. The single «Baby Boy» also reached number one, and singles, «Me, Myself and I» and «Naughty Girl«, both reached the top-five. The album earned Beyoncé a then record-tying five awards at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards; Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for «Dangerously in Love 2«, Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for «Crazy in Love», and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for «The Closer I Get to You» with Luther Vandross.
In November 2003, she embarked on the Dangerously in Love Tour in Europe and later toured alongside Missy Elliott and Alicia Keys for the Verizon Ladies First Tour in North America. On February 1, 2004, Beyoncé performed the American national anthem at Super Bowl XXXVIII, at the Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. After the release of Dangerously in Love, Beyoncé had planned to produce a follow-up album using several of the left-over tracks. However, this was put on hold so she could concentrate on recording Destiny Fulfilled, the final studio album by Destiny’s Child. Released on November 15, 2004, in the US and peaking at number two on the Billboard 200, Destiny Fulfilled included the singles «Lose My Breath» and «Soldier«, which reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Destiny’s Child embarked on a worldwide concert tour, Destiny Fulfilled… and Lovin’ It and during the last stop of their European tour, in Barcelona on June 11, 2005, Rowland announced that Destiny’s Child would disband following the North American leg of the tour. The group released their first compilation album Number 1’s on October 25, 2005, in the US and accepted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2006.
Beyoncé’s second solo album B’Day was released on September 4, 2006, in the US, to coincide with her twenty-fifth birthday. It sold 541,000 copies in its first week and debuted atop the Billboard 200, becoming Beyoncé’s second consecutive number-one album in the United States. The album’s lead single «Déjà Vu«, featuring Jay Z, reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The second international single «Irreplaceable» was a commercial success worldwide, reaching number one in Australia, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States. B’Day also produced three other singles; «Ring the Alarm«, «Get Me Bodied«, and «Green Light» (released in the United Kingdom only).
Her first acting role of 2006 was in the comedy film The Pink Panther starring opposite Steve Martin, grossing $158.8 million at the box office worldwide. Her second film Dreamgirls, the film version of the 1981 Broadway musical loosely based on The Supremes, received acclaim from critics and grossed $154 million internationally. In it, she starred opposite Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, and Eddie Murphy playing a pop singer based on Diana Ross. To promote the film, Beyoncé released «Listen» as the lead single from the soundtrack album. In April 2007, Beyoncé embarked on The Beyoncé Experience, her first worldwide concert tour, visiting 97 venues and grossed over $24 million. Beyoncé conducted pre-concert food donation drives during six major stops in conjunction with her pastor at St. John’s and America’s Second Harvest. At the same time, B’Day was re-released with five additional songs, including her duet with Shakira «Beautiful Liar«.
2008–10: Marriage, I Am… Sasha Fierce, and Cadillac Records
On April 4, 2008, Beyoncé married Jay Z. She publicly revealed their marriage in a video montage at the listening party for her third studio album, I Am… Sasha Fierce, in Manhattan’s Sony Club on October 22, 2008. I Am… Sasha Fierce was released on November 18, 2008, in the United States. The album formally introduces Beyoncé’s alter ego Sasha Fierce, conceived during the making of her 2003 single «Crazy in Love», selling 482,000 copies in its first week, debuting atop the Billboard 200, and giving Beyoncé her third consecutive number-one album in the US. The album featured the number-one song «Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)» and the top-five songs «If I Were a Boy» and «Halo«. Achieving the accomplishment of becoming her longest-running Hot 100 single in her career, «Halo»‘s success in the US helped Beyoncé attain more top-ten singles on the list than any other woman during the 2000s. It also included the successful «Sweet Dreams«, and singles «Diva«, «Ego«, «Broken-Hearted Girl» and «Video Phone«. The music video for «Single Ladies» has been parodied and imitated around the world, spawning the «first major dance craze» of the Internet age according to the Toronto Star. The video has won several awards, including Best Video at the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards, the 2009 Scottish MOBO Awards, and the 2009 BET Awards. At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, the video was nominated for nine awards, ultimately winning three including Video of the Year. Its failure to win the Best Female Video category, which went to American country pop singer Taylor Swift‘s «You Belong with Me«, led to Kanye West interrupting the ceremony and Beyoncé improvising a re-presentation of Swift’s award during her own acceptance speech. In March 2009, Beyoncé embarked on the I Am… World Tour, her second headlining worldwide concert tour, consisting of 108 shows, grossing $119.5 million.
Beyoncé further expanded her acting career, starring as blues singer Etta James in the 2008 musical biopic Cadillac Records. Her performance in the film received praise from critics, and she garnered several nominations for her portrayal of James, including a Satellite Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress. Beyoncé donated her entire salary from the film to Phoenix House, an organization of rehabilitation centers for heroin addicts around the country. On January 20, 2009, Beyoncé performed James’ «At Last» at the First Couple’s first inaugural ball. Beyoncé starred opposite Ali Larter and Idris Elba in the thriller, Obsessed. She played Sharon Charles, a mother and wife who learns of a woman’s obsessive behavior over her husband. Although the film received negative reviews from critics, the movie did well at the US box office, grossing $68 million—$60 million more than Cadillac Records—on a budget of $20 million. The fight scene finale between Sharon and the character played by Ali Larter also won the 2010 MTV Movie Award for Best Fight.
At the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, Beyoncé received ten nominations, including Album of the Year for I Am… Sasha Fierce, Record of the Year for «Halo», and Song of the Year for «Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)», among others. She tied with Lauryn Hill for most Grammy nominations in a single year by a female artist. In 2010, Beyoncé was featured on Lady Gaga‘s single «Telephone» and appeared in its music video. The song topped the US Pop Songs chart, becoming the sixth number-one for both Beyoncé and Gaga, tying them with Mariah Carey for most number-ones since the Nielsen Top 40 airplay chart launched in 1992. «Telephone» received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Beyoncé announced a hiatus from her music career in January 2010, heeding her mother’s advice, «to live life, to be inspired by things again». During the break she and her father parted ways as business partners. Beyoncé’s musical break lasted nine months and saw her visit multiple European cities, the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids, Australia, English music festivals and various museums and ballet performances.
2011–15: 4 and Beyoncé
On June 26, 2011, she became the first solo female artist to headline the main Pyramid stage at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival in over twenty years. Her fourth studio album 4 was released two days later in the US. 4 sold 310,000 copies in its first week and debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, giving Beyoncé her fourth consecutive number-one album in the US. The album was preceded by two of its singles «Run the World (Girls)» and «Best Thing I Never Had«, which both attained moderate success. The fourth single «Love on Top» was a commercial success in the US.4 also produced four other singles; «Party«, «Countdown«, «I Care» and «End of Time«. «Eat, Play, Love», a cover story written by Beyoncé for Essence that detailed her 2010 career break, won her a writing award from the New York Association of Black Journalists. In late 2011, she took the stage at New York’s Roseland Ballroom for four nights of special performances: the 4 Intimate Nights with Beyoncé concerts saw the performance of her 4 album to a standing room only.
On January 7, 2012, Beyoncé gave birth to her first child, a daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Five months later, she performed for four nights at Revel Atlantic City‘s Ovation Hall to celebrate the resort’s opening, her first performances since giving birth to Blue Ivy.
In January 2013, Destiny’s Child released Love Songs, a compilation album of the romance-themed songs from their previous albums and a newly recorded track, «Nuclear». Beyoncé performed the American national anthem singing along with a pre-recorded track at President Obama’s second inauguration in Washington, D.C. The following month, Beyoncé performed at the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The performance stands as the second most tweeted about moment in history at 268,000 tweets per minute. At the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, Beyoncé won for Best Traditional R&B Performance for «Love on Top». Her feature-length documentary film, Life Is But a Dream, first aired on HBO on February 16, 2013.
Beyoncé embarked on The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour on April 15 in Belgrade, Serbia; the tour included 132 dates that ran through to March 2014. It became the most successful tour of her career and one of the most successful tours of all time. In May, Beyoncé’s cover of Amy Winehouse‘s «Back to Black» with André 3000 on The Great Gatsby soundtrack was released. Beyoncé voiced Queen Tara in the 3D CGI animated film, Epic, released by 20th Century Fox on May 24, and recorded an original song for the film, «Rise Up», co-written with Sia.
On December 13, 2013, Beyoncé unexpectedly released her eponymous fifth studio album on the iTunes Store without any prior announcement or promotion. The album debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart, giving Beyoncé her fifth consecutive number-one album in the US. This made her the first woman in the chart’s history to have her first five studio albums debut at number one. Beyoncé received critical acclaim and commercial success, selling one million digital copies worldwide in six days; Musically an electro–R&B album, it concerns darker themes previously unexplored in her work, such as «bulimia, postnatal depression [and] the fears and insecurities of marriage and motherhood». The single «Drunk in Love«, featuring Jay Z, peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In April 2014, after much speculation, Beyoncé and Jay Z officially announced their On the Run Tour. It served as the couple’s first co-headlining stadium tour together. On August 24, 2014, she received the Video Vanguard Award at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. Knowles also won home three competitive awards: Best Video with a Social Message and Best Cinematography for «Pretty Hurts», as well as best collaboration for «Drunk in Love». In November, Forbes reported that Beyoncé was the top-earning woman in music for the second year in a row—earning $115 million in the year, more than double her earnings in 2013. Beyoncé was reissued with new material in three forms: as an extended play, a box set, as well as a full platinum edition.
At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in February 2015, Beyoncé was nominated for six awards, ultimately winning three: Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for «Drunk in Love», and Best Surround Sound Album for Beyoncé. She was nominated for Album of the Year, but the award went to Beck for his album Morning Phase.
On February 6, 2016, Beyoncé released a new single and its accompanying music video exclusively on the music streaming platform Tidal, titled «Formation«; the song was made available to download for free. Immediately following the announcement, Beyoncé announced The Formation World Tour, which highlighted stops in both North America, and Europe.
She performed «Formation» live for the first time during the NFL Super Bowl 50 halftime show. The appearance was considered controversial as it appeared to reference the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party and the NFL forbids political statements in its performances.
On April 16, 2016, Beyoncé announced a short film entitled Lemonade which aired on HBO exactly a week later, April 23 at 10:00 pm EST; a corresponding album with the same title was released on the same day exclusively on the streaming platform Tidal. Lemonade debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, making Beyoncé the first act in Billboard history to have her first six studio albums debut atop the chart, breaking a record she previously tied with DMX in 2013. The album is Beyoncé’s most critically acclaimed work to date, receiving universal acclaim according to Metacritic, a collection of reviews from professional music critics. It is the 23rd album to receive a five-star rating from Rolling Stone.
Forbes magazine began reporting on Beyoncé’s earnings in 2008, calculating that the $80 million earned between June 2007 to June 2008, for her music, tour, films and clothing line made her the world’s best-paid music personality at the time, above Madonna and Celine Dion. They placed her fourth on the Celebrity 100 list in 2009 and ninth on the «Most Powerful Women in the World» list in 2010. The following year, Forbes placed her eighth on the «Best-Paid Celebrities Under 30» list, having earned $35 million in the past year for her clothing line and endorsement deals. In 2012, Forbes placed Beyoncé at number 16 on the Celebrity 100 list, twelve places lower than three years ago yet still having earned $40 million in the past year for her album 4, clothing line and endorsement deals. In the same year, Beyoncé and Jay Z placed at number one on the «World’s Highest-Paid Celebrity Couples», for collectively earning $78 million. The couple made it into the previous year’s Guinness World Records as the «highest-earning power couple» for collectively earning $122 million in 2009. For the years 2009 to 2011, Beyoncé earned an average of $70 million per year, and earned $40 million in 2012. In 2013, Beyoncé’s endorsements of Pepsi and H&M made her and Jay Z the world’s first billion dollar couple in the music industry. That year, Beyoncé was published as the fourth most-powerful celebrity in the Forbes rankings. MTV estimated that by the end of 2014, Beyoncé would become the highest-paid black musician in history; she succeeded to do so in April 2014. In June 2014, Beyoncé ranked at #1 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, earning an estimated $115 million throughout June 2013 – June 2014. This in turn was the first time she had topped the Celebrity 100 list as well as being her highest yearly earnings to date. As of June 2016, her net worth is estimated to be $265 million.