Beyoncé

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter was born September 4, 1981 and is an American singer, songwriter and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child. She rose to fame in the late 1990s as lead singer of the R&B girl-group Destiny’s Child. Managed by her father, Mathew Knowles, the group became one of the best-selling girl groups in history. Their hiatus saw Beyoncé’s theatrical film debut in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) and the release of her first solo album, Dangerously in Love (2003). The album established her as a solo artist worldwide.

Following the break-up of Destiny’s Child in 2006, she released her second solo album, B’Day, Beyoncé also continued her acting career with starring roles in The Pink Panther (2006), Dreamgirls (2006), and Obsessed (2009). Her marriage to rapper Jay-Z and her portrayal of Etta James in Cadillac Records (2008) influenced her third album, I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008), which saw the introduction of her alter-ego, Sasha Fierce.
She took a hiatus from music in 2010 and took over management of her career.

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles was born 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 backup dancer for Destiny’s Child. Mathew is African American, while Tina is of Louisiana Creole descent (African, Native American, and French). Through her mother, Beyoncé is a descendant of Acadian leader Joseph Broussard.

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. She was also a member of the choir at St. John’s United Methodist Church as a soloist for two years. 

When Beyoncé was eight, she and childhood friend Kelly Rowland met LaTavia Roberson while at an audition for an all-girl entertainment group. They were placed into a group called Girl’s Tyme with three other girls, 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.

The group changed their name to Destiny’s Child in 1996, based upon a passage in the Book of Isaiah. 

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 then dismissed, leaving just Beyoncé, Rowland, and Williams. 

Beyoncé names Michael Jackson as her major musical influence. Aged five, Beyoncé attended her first ever concert where Jackson performed and she claims to have realized her purpose. She admires Diana Ross as an “all-around entertainer”. Beyoncé was heavily influenced by Tina Turner and Whitney Houston. She credits Mariah Carey’s singing and her song “Vision of Love” as influencing her to begin practicing vocal runs as a child. Her other musical influences include Aaliyah, Prince, Lauryn Hill, Donna Summer, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson. 

Beyoncé has stated that she is personally inspired by Michelle Obama and has described Oprah Winfrey as the definition of inspiration and a strong woman. She has also discussed how Jay-Z is a continuing inspiration to her, both with what she describes as his lyrical genius and in the obstacles he has overcome in his life. Beyoncé has expressed admiration for the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. In February 2013, Beyoncé said that Madonna inspired her to take control of her own career. 

Described as being sexy, seductive and provocative when performing on stage, Beyoncé has said that she originally created the alter ego “Sasha Fierce” to keep that stage persona separate from who she really is. She described Sasha as being too aggressive, too strong, too sassy and too sexy, stating that she is not like her in real life at all. Sasha was conceived during the making of “Crazy in Love”, and Beyoncé introduced her with the release of her 2008 album I Am … Sasha Fierce. In February 2010, she announced in an interview that she was comfortable enough with herself to no longer need Sasha Fierce. 

The Beyhive is the name given to Beyoncé’s fan base. Fans were previously titled “The Beyontourage”, (a portmanteau of Beyoncé and entourage). The name Bey Hive derives from the word beehive, purposely misspelled to resemble her first name, and was penned by fans after petitions on Twitter and online news reports during competitions. 

Beyoncé started a relationship with Jay-Z after their collaboration on “ ’03 Bonnie & Clyde”, which appeared on his seventh album The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse (2002). Beyoncé appeared as Jay-Z’s girlfriend in the music video for the song, fuelling speculation about their relationship. On April 4, 2008, Beyoncé and Jay-Z married without publicity. They are known for their private relationship, although they have appeared to become more relaxed in recent years. Both have acknowledged difficulty that arose in their marriage after Jay-Z had an affair. 

Beyoncé suffered a miscarriage around 2010 or 2011, describing it as “the saddest thing” she had ever endured. She returned to the studio and wrote music in order to cope with the loss. In April 2011, Beyoncé and Jay-Z traveled to Paris to shoot the cover for an album and she unexpectedly became pregnant in Paris. In August, the couple attended the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, at which Beyoncé performed “Love on Top” and ended the performance by revealing she was pregnant. Her appearance helped that year’s MTV Video Music Awards become the most-watched broadcast in MTV history. On January 7, 2012, Beyoncé gave birth to a daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

On February 1, 2017 she revealed on her Instagram account that she was expecting twins. On July 13, 2017, Beyoncé uploaded the first image of herself and the twins onto her Instagram account, confirming their birth date as a month prior, on June 13, 2017 and the names Rumi and Sir Carter. The twins were born at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in California. Rumi, the daughter, was born before Sir, the son. 

Beyoncé performed “America the Beautiful” at the 2009 presidential inauguration, as well as “At Last” during the first inaugural dance at the Neighborhood Ball two days later. They held a fundraiser at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club in Manhattan for Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign which raised $4 million. In the 2012 Presidential election, Beyoncé voted for Obama. She performed the American national anthem at his second inauguration in January 2013. The Washington Post reported in May 2015, that Beyoncé attended a major celebrity fundraiser for 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. She also headlined for Hillary Clinton in a 2016 concert held the weekend before Election Day. In this performance, Beyoncé and her entourage of backup dancers wore pantsuits; a clear allusion to Clinton’s frequent dress-of-choice. The backup dancers also wore “I’m with her” tee shirts, the campaign slogan for Clinton. In a brief speech at this performance Beyoncé said that she wanted her daughter to grow up seeing a woman lead their country and knowing that her possibilities are limitless. 

In 2013, Beyoncé stated in an interview with Vogue that she considered herself to be “a modern-day feminist”. She would later align herself more publicly with the movement, sampling “We should all be feminists”, a speech delivered by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at a TEDx talk in April 2013, in her song “Flawless”, released later that year. 

In 2014 she performed live at the MTV Video Awards in front a giant backdrop reading “FEMINIST.” Her self-identification as a feminist in response incited a circulation of opinions and debate about whether her feminism is aligned with older, more established feminist ideals. 

She has also contributed to the Ban Bossy campaign, which uses television and social media to encourage leadership in girls. Following Beyoncé’s public identification as a feminist, the sexualized nature of her performances and the fact that she championed her marriage was questioned. 

Beyoncé publicly endorsed same sex marriage on March 26, 2013, after the Supreme Court debate on California’s Proposition 8. Beyoncé spoke against North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, a bill passed (and later repealed) that discriminated against the LGBT community in public places in a statement during her concert in Raleigh as part of the Formation World Tour in 2016. She has also condemned police brutality against black Americans. Beyoncé and Jay-Z attended a rally in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The film for her sixth album Lemonade included the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, holding pictures of their sons in the video for “Freedom”.

In February 2017, Beyoncé spoke out against the withdrawal of protections for transgender students in public schools by Donald Trump’s presidential administration. Posting a link to the 100 Days of Kindness campaign on her Facebook page, Beyoncé voiced her support for transgender youth and joined a roster of celebrities who spoke out against Trump’s decision.

In November 2017, Beyoncé presented Colin Kaepernick with the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, stating that Colin took action with no fear of consequence. 

In 2010, Beyoncé founded her own entertainment company Parkwood Entertainment which formed as an imprint based from Columbia Records, the company began as a production unit for videos and films in 2008. Parkwood Entertainment is named after a street in Houston, Texas where Beyoncé once lived. With headquarters in New York City, the company serves as an umbrella for the entertainer’s various brands in music, movies, videos, and fashion. The staff of Parkwood Entertainment have experiences in arts and entertainment, from filmmaking and video production to web and fashion design. In addition to departments in marketing, digital, creative, publicity, fashion design and merchandising, the company houses a state-of-the-art editing suite, where Beyoncé works on content for her worldwide tours, music videos, and television specials. Parkwood Entertainment’s first production was the musical biopic Cadillac Records (2008), in which Beyoncé starred and co-produced. The company has also distributed Beyoncé’s albums such as her self-titled fifth studio album (2013), Lemonade (2016) and The Carters, Everything is Love (2018). Beyoncé has also signed other artists to Parkwood such as Chloe x Halle.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Beyoncé and Rowland founded the Survivor Foundation to provide transitional housing for victims in the Houston area, to which Beyoncé contributed an initial $250,000. The foundation has since expanded to work with other charities in the city, and also provided relief following Hurricane Ike three years later. 

Beyoncé participated in George Clooney and Wyclef Jean’s Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief telethon and was named the official face of the limited edition CFDA “Fashion For Haiti” T-shirt, made by Theory which raised a total of $1 million. On March 5, 2010, Beyoncé and her mother Tina opened the Beyoncé Cosmetology Center at the Brooklyn Phoenix House, offering a seven-month cosmetology training course for men and women. In April 2011, Beyoncé joined forces with US First Lady Michelle Obama and the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation, to help boost the latter’s campaign against child obesity by reworking her single “Get Me Bodied”. Following the death of Osama bin Laden, Beyoncé released her cover of the Lee Greenwood song “God Bless the USA”, as a charity single to help raise funds for the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund.

In December 2012, Beyoncé along with a variety of other celebrities teamed up and produced a video campaign for “Demand A Plan”, a bipartisan effort by a group of 950 US mayors and others designed to influence the federal government into rethinking its gun control laws, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Beyoncé became an ambassador for the 2012 World Humanitarian Day campaign donating her song “I Was Here” and its music video, shot in the UN, to the campaign. In 2013, it was announced that Beyoncé would work with Salma Hayek and Frida Giannini on a Gucci “Chime for Change” campaign that aims to spread female empowerment. The campaign, which aired on February 28, was set to her new music. A concert for the cause took place on June 1, 2013 in London and included other acts like Ellie Goulding, Florence and the Machine, and Rita Ora. In advance of the concert, she appeared in a campaign video released on May 15, 2013, where she, along with Cameron Diaz, John Legend and Kylie Minogue, described inspiration from their mothers, while a number of other artists celebrated personal inspiration from other women, leading to a call for submission of photos of women of viewers’ inspiration from which a selection was shown at the concert. Beyoncé said about her mother Tina Knowles that her gift was “finding the best qualities in every human being.” With help of the crowdfunding platform Catapult, visitors of the concert could choose between several projects promoting education of women and girls. Beyoncé is also taking part in “Miss a Meal”, a food-donation campaign, and supporting Goodwill charity through online charity auctions at Charitybuzz that support job creation throughout Europe and the U.S. In December 2016, Beyoncé was named the Most Charitable Celebrity of the year.