Kate's Notes

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Beyoncé Knowles

Beyoncé Knowles

Beyoncé Knowles (born September 4, 1981) is in a league of fame completely her own. Not only is she an American R&B Grammy-Award winning singer, songwriter, and record producer, but she is also a Golden Globe-nominated actress, dancer, fashion designer and model for House of Deréon.

Knowles rose to fame early as the creative force and lead singer of R&B girl group Destiny's Child, the best-selling female group of all time, with over fifty million records sold. With her father as they’re manager, the group quickly shot to the top of the charts. However, it wasn’t all roses and diamonds, some of the original group members were cut, and more came on before the group became what it was at its conclusion in 2004.

After a series of commercially successful releases with the group, Knowles released her debut solo album Dangerously in Love in 2003. The album became one of the biggest commercial successes of the year, topping the album charts in the U.S. and the UK. It also spawned the number-one singles "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy" and earned Beyoncé a record-tying five Grammy Awards in a single night in 2004. Knowles's sophomore album B’Day, which was released worldwide on September 4, 2006, appropriately on her twenty-fifth birthday, continued her success. The album spawned the UK number-one single "Deja Vu," "Ring the Alarm," and the worldwide number-one hit "Irreplaceable," and earned Knowles her seventh solo Grammy Award. Knowles has contributed to the soundtracks of films in which she has starred, including Dreamgirls (2006), for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for acting.

Knowles is a major contender in the music industry, with 10 Grammy Awards, 24 Billboard Music Awards, 7 World Music Awards, 7 NAACP Image Awards, and though they try to keep their relationship very low-profile, she is has been dating Jay-Z for sometime; pictures of them together have graced the pages of many a tabloid magazine.

Early Life

Knowles garnered her striking looks and figure from her father, Mathew Knowles, who is black and her mother, Tina Beyince, is also black, but of Louisiana Creole descent. Her parents decided on her first name as a tribute to her mother's surname. Born in Houston, Texas, Knowles is the elder of two daughters; her sister’s name is Solange Knowles. Her maternal grandparents, Lumis Beyince and Agnéz Deréon (a seamstress), were French-speaking Louisiana Creoles.

By age seven, she was attending dance school and was a soloist in her church choir. Her dance instructor took an interest in Knowles and took her star student to various competitions. Knowles went on to win over thirty local singing and dancing competitions. Knowles and her former best friend at the time LaTavia Roberson met Kelly Rowland and LeToya Luckett. They formed a quartet that would perform in their backyards and in Tina Knowles' hair salon. After singing at local events, they got their break when they entered Star Search. The group, then named Girl's Tyme, were disappointed after losing the competition, but Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé's father and Rowland's legal guardian, decided to help the girls reach their dreams of becoming singers. He quit his six-figure salary job as a multi-million dollar equipment salesman at Xerox to manage the group; this decision proved to be initially detrimental to the whole family, and their income had been cut in half, causing the family to move into two different apartments.

When the group was signed to Columbia Records in 1996, it gave the entire family a second chance at making things work. As a teenager, Knowles attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, where she showed her musical talents. She later went to Alief Elsik High School, also in Houston.

Destiny's Child

Destiny’s Child was initially formed as a foursome: the group members included Knowles, LaTavia Roberson, LeToya Luckett and Kelly Rowland. Destiny’s Child rose to fame in 1998, when Knowles was only 16, with the Billboard top ten hit and R&B number-one single "No, No, No Part 2," which was produced by Wyclef Jean and Jermaine Dupri. Even after much-publicized turmoil involving the departure of LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, Destiny's Child (eventually a trio) became the most successful R&B/pop acts of the early 2000s, charting four Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, several top ten hits, and two number-one albums.

The group's second album, The Writing's on the Wall, released in 1999, featured two number-one hits: "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Say My Name." "Bug a Boo" and "Jumpin' Jumpin'" were also popular singles from the album. It went on to sell thirteen million copies worldwide and eight million in the U.S. Furthermore, "Say My Name" won two awards at the 2001 Grammy Awards: "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" and "Best R&B Song". Their following album, Survivor, proved to be another big success, going to number one on both the U.S. Billboard 200, and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, as well as the Canadian and the UK albums charts. Two singles from the album went to the top of the Hot 100: "Independent Women Part I" and "Bootylicious", while "Survivor", the album's title track, reached number two. In the United Kingdom, the first two tracks released reached number one consecutively. "Independent Women Part I" had been the theme song for the film Charlie's Angels (2000), before the album's release. The title track, "Survivor", won the group their third Grammy Award, "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal". #1's (2005)

In 2001, Knowles won the "Songwriter of the Year" award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Pop Music Awards. She is the first African-American female and second overall female songwriter of all time to accomplish this. After the three-year journey that involved concentration on individual solo projects, Knowles rejoined Rowland and Williams for Destiny's Child's fourth (and so far final) studio album, Destiny Fulfilled, released in November 2004. The album hit number two on the Billboard 200 and spawned the hits "Lose My Breath", "Soldier", "Girl", and "Cater 2 U." It has sold eight million copies worldwide. In 2005, Destiny's Child embarked on a world tour sponsored by McDonald's titled Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It, visiting over seventy cities throughout Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America from April to September.

On June 13, 2005 it was announced that the group would disband after their world tour ended in September 2005. In October 2005, the group released their final 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". The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and number seven on the UK Singles Chart. #1's has gone on to sell three million copies worldwide; it was also the best-selling number ones album by a female group ever.

Solo Career

During the autumn of 2002, Knowles was the featured vocalist on rapper Jay-Z's hit single, "'03 Bonnie & Clyde". In the spring of 2003, Knowles remade a duet with Luther Vandross, "The Closer I Get to You", originally made famous by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. In this version, the vocal parts are switched, with Vandross taking Flack's part and Knowles taking Hathaway's. The song was included on both her solo debut album and on Vandross's Dance with My Father album, and the two shared the Grammy for "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" that same year.

She recently collaborated with her beau, Jay-Z, on his latest album, Kingdom Come, providing the vocals and the hook for the track entitled "Hollywood".

Dangerously in Love (2003)

In 2003, Knowles released her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, which entered the Billboard 200 at number one selling 317,000 copies in its first week. It was certified Platinum just three weeks later on June 22, 2003. Its first single, the funky "Crazy in Love", was a track constructed around a propulsive riff sampled from The Chi-Lites' 1970 "Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)" and featured a guest rap from Jay-Z. It rapidly became one of the biggest hits of that summer, staying at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks. Dangerously in Love went to the top of the album charts in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, and the Philippines, and peaked on both the U.S. Billboard 200 and R&B charts. The album has sold over four million copies in the U.S. and over twelve million copies worldwide. When her single and album simultaneously topped the main charts in both the U.S. and the UK, she became the first act to achieve this feat since Men at Work in 1983, and The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Rod Stewart in the 1960s and 1970s; she is the first and so far the only female artist to do this.

Knowles was consequently one of the biggest-selling artists of 2003. At the end of the summer, "Baby Boy," Dangerously in Love's second single, which featured dancehall artist Sean Paul, began to climb the charts. It went on to become one of the biggest hits of 2003, dominating radio airplay in the autumn of 2003, and spending nine weeks at number one – one week longer than "Crazy in Love." This single is also featured on Sean Paul's re-released version of his second album Dutty Rock. Afterwards Knowles released her third solo single, "Me, Myself and I"; Dangerously in Love's fourth single, "Naughty Girl", came out in mid-2004.
At the 2004 Grammy Awards ceremony, Knowles won a record-tying five Grammy Awards for her solo effort. These awards included Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Dangerously in Love 2" and Best Contemporary R&B Album. Three other female artists hold this record: Lauryn Hill (1999), Alicia Keys (2002), and Norah Jones (2003). She also won a Brit Award in 2004 for International Female Solo Artist in the United Kingdom.

In December 2005, Knowles released "Check on It", featuring rappers Slim Thug and (in the official remix) Bun B. The song was from the Destiny's Child's greatest hits compilation, #1's and the soundtrack to the 2006 film, The Pink Panther, and it was Knowles' sixth top five hit and third number one in the U.S. At the 2006 Grammy Awards, Knowles won a Grammy in the category of "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" 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.

B’Day (2006)

Knowles' sophomore album B’Day was released worldwide on September 4, 2006 and on September 5, 2006 in the U.S. to coincide with the celebration of Knowles's twenty-fifth birthday. In its first week, the album sold more than 541,000 copies in the U.S., immediately coming in at number one, making it her highest first-week sales as a solo artist. This is also the highest first-week sales of any solo female artist in 2006, a record which used to be held by pop singer Christina Aguilera whose album Back to Basics sold 346,000 copies in its first week. In the UK, it debuted at number three with sales of 35,000 copies, and has sold in excess of 300,000 copies, making the album Platinum.

"Deja Vu", the album's first single, features Jay-Z. Also with the co-production by Rodney Jerkins. Other co-producers on B’Day included Rich Harrison, The Neptunes, and Swizz Beatz.
The album was Platinum in a month of its initial release. Currently, the album is certified 2x Platinum and has sold two million copies in the U.S. and more than four million copies worldwide. The album's lead single "Deja Vu" became a top five hit in the United States and a number-one hit on the U.S. R&B chart and the UK chart, making it Knowles's second UK number-one single, when it climbed twenty spots to take the top spot over Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean's "Hips Don't Lie" in the week of August 27, 2006. The second single, "Ring the Alarm", was leaked to the Internet on August 8, 2006. The video for "Ring the Alarm" was released on August 16, 2006 on Yahoo.com and peaked at number one on the site's video chart. "Ring the Alarm" became Knowles's highest-charting single debut, when it debuted at number twelve on the singles chart.

However, it was her first single to miss the top ten in the U.S. Outside North America, "Irreplaceable" was released as the album's second international single in October 2006. It debuted at number fourteen on the official chart and is a number-one on the Irish chart. The single debuted at number eighty-seven on the Hot 100 and number forty-two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart. The single has also been taking over on the Irish charts, peaking at number one in its second week. "Irreplaceable" is her fourth number-one as solo artist on Billboard Hot 100 chart. It is Knowles's eighth top ten hit in the U.S. as a solo artist and fourth number-one hit on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. In December 2006, a Spanish-language version of "Irreplaceable", called "Imprescindible", was released. "Irreplaceable" is now in its tenth consecutive week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. On December 6, the nominations for the 2007 Grammy Awards were announced, and Beyoncé received five: "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" for "Ring the Alarm", "Best R&B Song" for "Deja Vu", "Best Contemporary R&B Album" for B’Day, "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration" for "Deja Vu", and "Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical" for "Deja Vu" (Freemasons Club Mix - No Rap) (remixed by Russell Small and James Wiltshire), of which she won "Best Contemporary R&B Album."

Knowles has also confirmed rumors to Univision that she and Latin superstar Shakira will be releasing a Spanglish Latin pop song entitled "Beautiful Liar." It will be featured on the re-issue of B’Day, which will also include Spanish-language versions of "Deja Vu," "Irreplaceable," and "Ring the Alarm," and the T.I.-featured version of "Upgrade U." In 2007, Knowles will embark on her lengthy B'Day World Tour. Knowles also has been hailed by Entertainment Weekly as the 7th Most Entertaining Person of the Year of 2006 and she was ranked the highest musician on the list.

Knowles has commented on her onstage demeanor: “I become someone else when I’m onstage. I call that stage persona ‘Sasha.’ I wouldn’t like Sasha if I met her off stage.” She’s “too aggressive, too strong, too sassy, too sexy! I’m not like her in real life at all. I’m not flirtatious and super-confident and fearless like her. What I feel onstage I don’t feel anywhere else. It’s an out-of-body experience. I created my stage persona . . . so that when I go home, I don’t have to think about what it is I do. Sasha isn’t me. The people around me know who I really am.”

Film Career

In 2001, Knowles turned to acting, starring alongside actor Mekhi Phifer in the MTV made-for-television film Carmen: A Hip Hopera. In the summer of 2002, Knowles co-starred in the film Austin Powers in Goldmember, playing Foxxy Cleopatra opposite Mike Myers and Michael Caine. Knowles also recorded the song "Work It Out" for the film's soundtrack. " In 2003, Knowles starred opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the film The Fighting Temptations, and recorded a song for it called "Fighting Temptation", alongside female rappers Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Free. Unlike Knowles' own singles, the song did not become a hit, although the film was a moderate success at the box office.

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 was number one at the box office on its opening weekend. With Austin Powers in Goldmember and The Pink Panther, Knowles appeared in two films that opened at number one at the box office; the two films have grossed over $481,364,728 worldwide.

Knowles's latest film work is Dreamgirls, the film adaptation of the hit 1981 Broadway musical about a 1960s singing group loosely based on Motown all-female group The Supremes, as the Diana Ross-based character Deena Jones. The film received a limited release on December 15, 2006 and a wider release on December 25, 2006. 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 opened number three at the box office with an eight-million-dollar opening weekend. Beyoncé was quoted to say this was her first real acting film. Dreamgirls was nominated for eight 2007 Academy Awards, including "Best Original Song" for "Listen."

In addition in November 2006, Knowles and "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria were set to lock lips and hips in a big-screen lesbian love story.

Other Media

On February of 2007, Knowles became the second African American (after supermodel Tyra Banks) and first non-model, non athlete woman to be on a cover shot of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for the year. The singer and now movie star (Dreamgirls) posed on a Florida beach in a yellow-and-pink bikini by House of Dereon, the fashion label she started with her mother, Tina Knowles. There’s also a photo spread inside.” The Dreamgirl As You’ve Never Seen Her,” a cover headline teased.

Personal Life and Media Spotlight

It was rumored that Knowles was once pregnant while in high school, but this rumor is unsubstantiated.

Knowles has been dating rapper Jay-Z since 2002. The couple has never publicly discussed their relationship. Knowles has stated that she believes that not publicly discussing their relationship has helped them. Jay-Z has said in a People magazine article that "we don't play with our relationship." There have also been unconfirmed rumors that Jay-Z is very aggressive with Knowles; however, because the two-some is rarely in the tabloids, entertainment media has ignored any chatter.

Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have voiced concern over Beyoncé wearing and using fur in her clothing line, House of Deréon. After winning an online eBay auction, offered by VH1 for the Save the Music Foundation, to dine with Knowles in June 2006, two PETA members confronted the singer at a restaurant in New York City about her use of fur. Knowles did not respond, and the PETA members were escorted out. On August 25, 2006, PETA wrote a letter of concern to Beyoncé about the treatment of baby alligators in a photoshoot. Knowles spoke to Arena magazine about the photoshoot for "Ring the Alarm", where a baby alligator had its mouth taped shut. She told Arena, "There was a shot where I held an alligator. (It) had (its) mouth taped – that was my bright idea." Knowles added, "He was really cute, but since his mouth was taped, he didn't have any way to defend himself. He was upset, so he peed on me. That was an experience." The organization contacted a biologist, who wrote a letter to Knowles. "As a specialist in reptile biology and welfare, I'm concerned about your posing with a terrified baby alligator for your new album cover." He added, "Humans and alligators are not natural bedfellows, and the two should not mix at events such as photo shoots. In my view, doing so is arguably abusive to an animal"

Unfortunetly, along with the awards and accalades of Dreamgirls came a lot of gossip about Knowles having a rivalry with newcomer Jennifer Hudson. Hudson emerged as the breakout star in that movie, and it was rumored that Knowles father, who still manages Knowles, tried to force Hudson to sign with him, which she refused. However, Knowles has responded to these allegations by stating, “I knew that the character that I played wasn’t the star … I’m already a star. I already have nine Grammys. Everyone knows I can sing. I wish I could have gained 20 pounds and played Effie.”

MediaTakeOut.com claimed that they had an official document from Texas which states that Knowles was born in 1974 making her 7 years older than previously reported. Over the years there have been many rumors as to what her real age is, however, given her grade school attendance, these rumors are easily debunked.

An ad featuring Knowles with a cigarette in a long, old-fashioned holder in one hand drew controversy in Australia in early 2007. The image is being used for magazine and newspaper ads as well as billboard ads to promote the Australian leg of her B-Day Tour. People are calling for the ad to be removed, because they think it promotes smoking. A spokesperson from the Queensland Cancer Fund said, “Young women in particular are influenced by what they see in the media. So it doesn’t help that they are regularly exposed to images such as celebrities smoking. With young women, image issues usually win out over health issues and it can actually be a prompt for them to start smoking.”

Charity Work

Knowles, music producer David Foster, and his daughter, Amy Foster Gillies, wrote Destiny's Child's single "Stand Up for Love" for 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 and Kelly Rowland, along with Mathew Knowles, Tina Knowles, and sister Solange Knowles recently announced the formation of the Survivor Foundation, a charitable entity set up for the purpose of providing transitional housing for 2005 Hurricane Katrina victims and storm evacuees in the Houston, Texas area. The Survivor Foundation extends the philanthropic mission of the "Knowles-Rowland Center For Youth", a multi-purpose community outreach facility in downtown Houston.


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