Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter (born September 4, 1981), commonly known as Beyoncé, is an American R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she enrolled in various performing arts schools there, and was first exposed to singing and dancing competitions as a child.
Her father Matthew Knowles is African-American and her mom Tina Knowles is Louisiana Creole. Knowles rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny's Child. Although the group experienced periods of public turmoil, including lawsuits and lineup changes, Destiny's Child dominated the music industry and was eventually recognized as the world's best-selling female group of all time.
In June 2003, after a series of commercial successes with the group, Beyoncé released her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, which became one of the most successful albums of that year. It also spawned the number-one singles "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy", earning Knowles five Grammy Awards in a single night in 2004. The formal disbandment of Destiny's Child facilitated her continued success as a solo artist. She released her second album, B'Day in 2006, which spawned the UK number-one singles "Déjà Vu" and "Beautiful Liar", as well as the worldwide hit, "Irreplaceable".
The success of her solo albums established her as one of the most marketable artists in the industry. Knowles branched out to movies, starring in such Hollywood films as the 2006 comedy The Pink Panther and the musical film Dreamgirls. The latter earned her two Golden Globe Award nominations: one for acting and another for the Dreamgirls soundtrack song, "Listen".
She has launched her family's own company and products, including House of Deréon. She has also signed lucrative commercial deals, including one with Pepsi. These business ventures have benefited her charity works. Aside from co-producing songs, Knowles is recognized as one of the most successful female song-writers. Her involvement on her career, alongside her fashion and image, however, are often a subject of public scrutiny. She has been with long-time boyfriend Jay-Z since 2002, though they have been discreet to the media about their relationship. After much speculation, they married on April 4, 2008.
Knowles was born on September 4, 1981 in Houston, Texas to Mathew Knowles, a successful African American record manager and Tina Beyincé, an American costume designer and hair stylist of Louisiana Creole descent. Knowles was baptized after her mother's maiden name, as a tribute to herself and because only a few of the Beyincé males carry that name and it, according to her, would eventually become extinct. Her maternal grandparents, Lumis Albert Beyincé and Agnéz Deréon, were French-speaking Louisiana Creoles. She is the older sister of Solange Knowles, 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 was discovered when her dance instructor began humming a song and she finished it, hitting the high-pitched notes. Although Beyoncé was considered a shy girl, her interest in music and performing unexpectedly began 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 entered to 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' cousin, Kelly Rowland, were placed into a group that would perform rapping and dancing. Originally named Gyrl's Time, 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 the confidence after knowing that then-pop stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake had also experienced the same fate.
To manage the group, Mathew Knowles (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.