Thought by some to be the most beautiful woman in the world this amazingly talented young woman has packed a lifetime of achievement into the short years of her life since her birth in 1981.
Her talent was already evident during her years in school and she has grown from there. Her R&B group, Destiny’s Child was one of the most successful women’s groups of all time selling 60 million records and, following their break up in 2005 her solo career has been no less stellar leading to sales of over 118 million solo records. She is famous for her sumptuous and spectacular performances characterized by form fitting outfits and high energy.
She is one of the most recognized, decorated and influential female artists in the world with Time attributing her as being one of the top 100 most influential people in 2013 and 14 and Forbes stating that she was 2015’s most powerful female musician.
Here are 10 facts that you might not have known about this fascinating and talented woman.
Beyoncé Was Born In Texas And Got Her Unusual Name From Her Mother.
Beyoncé was born in Houston in 1981 and was named as a tribute to her mother; Beyoncé was taken from her mother’s maiden name which was Beyincé. Beyoncé has a complicated ancestry and family background. Her father, Mathew Knowles is African American by descent while her mother, Celestine Ann (Tina) Knowles is from a Louisiana Creole background with a combination of African, Native American, French, Cajun, Irish and Spanish blood. She is descended from Joseph Broussard, the man who led the Arcadians to Louisiana following their defeat by the British.
Beyoncé’s extraordinary talent was discovered by her primary school teachers when she was able to hit high notes in a song her dance teacher was humming. Beyoncé’s voice is amazingly powerful; she can cover up to 4 octaves with relative ease. She went on to win a school talent show at the tender age of 7 with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ leading her to beat children twice her age. By 1990 she had enrolled in the well-known Parker Elementary School before going on to other high profile performing arts schools. During this time she also sang as a soloist in the choir at her local Methodist church.
Over time her training has allowed her to add superb breath control to her vocal skills allowing her to hold a note for up to 14 seconds either with or without a vibrato quality to the note. She is also able to dance while singing, performing active routines without any detriment to vocal quality during performances.
Beyoncé Hit The Big Time With Destiny’s Child in 1997
Beyoncé’s first music group was formed with Kelley Rowland and four other girls came together to form an all girl group called Girl’s Tyme. They primarily performed rap and dance numbers in Houston talent shows. They came to the attention of the well known R&B producer Arne Frager who put them into the TV talent show, Star Search. The group did not perform well and failed to win the show because they made the wrong choice of song, opting to rap instead of sing.
The group were undeterred and Beyoncé’s father gave up his job to manage them with the girls taking time to practice at church, in their backyards and even in the salon that was owned by Beyoncé’s mother where they would collect both monetary tips from customers and critique of their performances which helped them improve. It was not long before they were performing as warmup acts for well-known R&B groups. The Knowles’ kept as much in the family as possible, not only did Beyoncé’s father manage the group but her mother designed all their performance clothes, makeup and hair. The strain of working together alongside monetary pressures caused her parents to split briefly but they reunited just before Destiny’s child scored their contract with Columbia Records in 1996 and their first album debuted in 1997. Since that time Beyoncé has been a household name.
The Name, Destiny’s Child Is Inspired By The Bible
Following their defeat on Star Search the group, now managed by Beyoncé’s father, a former salesman changed their members and name a number of times becoming in turn, Something Fresh, Cliché, The Dolls and simply, Destiny. Under the final name they signed with Elektra Records but were dumped before they could produce an album. It was only in 1996 that the group settled on the name of Destiny’s Child. The name was inspired by the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. The name change proved prophetic because a year later they had their song, ‘Killing Time’ included in the Men In Black soundtrack. Their debut album, Destiny’s Child achieved platinum status and won a number of awards including the Soul Train Lady Best R&B/Soul single for their first big single, ‘No, No, No’.
Their second album The Writing’s On The Wall is widely credited as being the real breakout work for the group. It went platinum many times over and included a number of their best known songs including ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’, ‘Jumpin’ Jumpin’ and ‘Say My Name’, their biggest hit of all time. The group’s success did not prevent band members from pursuing their own, individual, projects and a duet between Beyoncé and Marc Nelson of Boyz II Men called ‘After All Is Said And Done’ featured on the soundtrack of the film The Best Man.
Beyoncé Suffered From Depression In The Past And Has An Alter-Ego Called Sasha Fierce
Shortly after the success of The Writing’s On The Wall tensions began to show in the group. Two members, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett started to complain about the way that Beyoncé’s father managed the bad complaining that he prioritized her interests over and above those of the other band members. The band members agreed to replace them with two alternatives, Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams.
Upset with the split and saying that they had only meant to raise complaints not end up being forced out of the band (they found out that they had been fired while watching television, they were not told directly) LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Lucket issued court proceedings against Beyoncé’s father and the other band members. Beyoncé was widely blamed for the split in what became a long running and very unpleasant media battle. Her long term boyfriend dumped her at the same time as all this was going on and Farrah Franklin left shortly thereafter citing a poor and negative atmosphere in the group. The lawsuit was finally settled in 2000 but the episode had left its scars.
Beyoncé found it very difficult to leave her room, could not bring herself to eat and ended up suffering from a long lasting depression. She found it almost impossible to speak out about the depression because of the success her band were enjoying at that time with their first Grammy Award and a range of other accolades. Eventually she turned to her mother who helped her through the episode.
Beyoncé is naturally shy with a very different personality to her stage presence. Initially she found it very difficult to separate the two and so created an alter-ego called Sasha Fierce in order to allow her to maintain her own private identity. Sasha Fierce even appeared by name in one of Beyoncé’s albums I am Sasha Fierce but not long thereafter Beyoncé decided that she felt comfortable enough in her own skin to manage without her alter-ego and ‘killed’ her.
Beyoncé Is A Film Star And Catwalk Model As Well As A Singer
Beyoncé has starred in 10 films. Her first role was in Carmen: A Hip Hopera an MTV modern day version of the opera Carmen set in Philadelphia in 2001 but her first truly high profile role was in the following year’s Goldmember where she played the role of Foxxy Cleopatra. Her song, ‘Work It Out’ from the soundtrack to the movie was extremely successful as a single. Other high profile roles include a remake of The Pink Panther opposite Steve Martin and Dreamgirls a musical based on the band the Supremes. More recently she played a voice only role in the animated feature Epic. In addition to her screen performances she has walked the runway as a model. In 2010 she was one of the key models for Tom Ford’s spring/summer collection.
Her talents do not stop there. In addition to her performance career she has designed several fragrances Heat, Heat Rush and Pulse which are the world’s bestselling celebrity perfumes (despite the fact that she herself is allergic to perfume). She is also a part owner of the celebrity owned music streaming service Tidal. In 2005, together with her mother, she founded a fashion line named House of Deréon named for her grandmother who had been a seamstress. The clothing is available in department stores across the US and though C&A in Brazil. She is also due to launch an active wear range with UK retailer Topshop.
Beyoncé Married Jay Z In 2008, Their Daughter Was Born In 2012
Beyoncé met Jay Z Carter in 2002 when she worked with him on the track 03 Bonnie & Clyde for his album The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse. Their professional collaboration soon grew into friendship and then love and the two were often seen, very happily, together although they have always tried to keep much of the detail of their relationship as private as they possibly can. They finally tied the knot in 2008 in a quiet and private wedding at Jay Z’s apartment.
Although the couple were keen to start a family they very sadly suffered a miscarriage in 2010 which Beyoncé described as the ‘saddest thing’ she had ever gone through. Her work helped her cope with the loss of the baby and the following year, she became pregnant during a trip to Paris to shoot pictures for the cover of her latest album 4. The couple announced the pregnancy at the 2011 MTV music awards with Beyoncé making a statement about the ‘love growing inside of me’ and rubbing her belly. Her fans went wild and the announcement entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the event with the most tweets per second on Twitter.
The baby, a healthy girl called Blue Ivy, was born in January 2012 and her recorded cries were included in her father’s song Glory which was released just 2 days later. She is the youngest person ever to appear on a Billboard chart – perhaps she will follow in the footsteps of her mother!
The Couple Are Incredibly Wealthy
Beyoncé’s successful and stellar career and her many endorsement agreements have made her a very wealthy woman indeed. Forbes magazine began to focus on her net worth in 2008 when it was estimated that her earnings were in the region of $80 million for that year which made her the best paid musical personality at that time, even more successful, in monetary terms than both Madonna and Celine Dion. She does not earn quite that much every year, in 2012 her solo earnings were a ‘mere’ $40 million.
Jay Z ‘s successful career combined with his wife’s earnings make them an extremely wealthy couple. In 2012 they topped the list of the World’s Highest Paid Celebrity Couples when they earned a combined $78 million. By 2013 her endorsements of Pepsi and H&M were really paying off and she and Jay Z became the first billion dollar couple in the music industry. This earned her the ranking of the fourth most powerful celebrity and by the end of 2014 MTV announced that she was the highest paid black musician ever. As if this were not enough Beyoncé’s rise appears to be unstoppable and in 2014 she was ranked first on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list with earnings of $115 million in the previous year. Her net worth is currently believed to be (as of 2015) approximately $250 million.
Beyoncé Has Used Some Innovative And Risky Marketing Techniques For Her Albums
Whether or not the social media response to her pregnancy announcement in 2011 spurred her to realize that it is a powerful tool when used well or for some other reason Beyoncé took a risk when she launched her eponymous album Beyoncé in 2013.
Conventional wisdom in the music industry is to tease fans with promotional material in the lead up to the release of a new single or album. This, it is believed, will help drive interest pushing sales with it. Beyoncé, claiming to want to cut out the middle man and speak directly to her fans eschewed all traditional advice and instead released the news of her album by posting a very short video to Instragram entitled ‘Surprise!’. Social media took over the role of advertising executive on her behalf and within 12 hours the news had been tweeted 1.2 million times. This in turn was mentioned on the media and within a short while almost everyone had heard about the album.
The strategy was a risk and relied on Beyoncé being able to trust her team implicitly to ensure that there were no leaks about the content. This meant that the release of the 14 song album did indeed come as a complete surprise which captured the imagination of her fans. The strategy was ultimately extremely successful and, of course, completely free. Would it work again? Will Beyoncé repeat the trick? Who knows!
Beyoncé Claims To Be A ‘Modern Day Feminist’
The lyrics of Beyoncé’s songs revolve around themes of deep love, monogamy and relationships tied in which a big dash of sexuality and a nod towards female empowerment. When asked, however, she has refused to be branded as a ‘feminist’ on the basis that the word is ‘extreme’ perhaps worrying about being identified with the more hard core, men hating, ‘feminists’ that are sometimes seen in the spotlight. Those very same hard core feminists who complained vociferously about her naming one of her live tours ‘The Mrs. Carter Show’ a reference to her husband, Jay Z’s surname.
Instead she characterizes herself as a ‘modern day feminist’ saying that she does believe in equality and acknowledges that women have some way to go before that is truly achieved. Beyoncé has said that it is clear that women do not have access to the same opportunities or money as men and therefore have to work much harder. She thinks it is more about how women think than necessarily about the need for equal rights and has said that her goal is for women to ‘reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves’ she also adds that she loves her husband and is happy to be married to him.
In line with her view on the reshaping of perceptions she has contributed to the Ban Bossy campaign which aims to encourage people to stop using the word bossy as it has negative connotations when applied to girls.
Beyoncé Is A Committed Philanthropist
With all the money she has earned over the years Beyoncé has the capacity to do great good and it is a responsibility she does not shy away from. Following the dreadful effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 she founded, together with Kelly Rowland, the Survivor Foundation which helped to provide temporary housing for displaced victims in Houston. Beyoncé contributed a founding $250,000 and a percentage of all House of Deréon profits also goes to the foundation . The foundation has not limited it work to Katrina relief but also to survivors of Hurricane Ike and now works closely with a number of other charities in the city. In 2010, together with her mother, she established a center to provide cosmetolology training to men and women helping provide them with employable skills.
She has worked closely with George Clooney in his Hope For Haiti Now: A Global Benefit For Earthquake Relief and on the CFDA t shirt to raise funds for Haiti. She is good friends with President and Mrs Obama and has worked closely on the First Lady’s campaign against childhood obesity. More recently she has been an outspoken critic of gun control laws, female empowerment and education, food donations and job creation. She often releases music tracks for charitable causes that she supports in the hope that they will raise not only funds but also awareness of the underlying cause as well.
Her charitable efforts are not for show as she is also well known for having a very caring and human side, as evidenced by the fact that when some fans were injured at one of her concerts she very quietly and without publicity went to visit them in hospital to make sure that they were ok and getting better.
Beyoncé is clearly a fascinating woman. Her true talent manifested itself from a very early age and, while still a teenager, she was propelled into the starlight with the break out success of Destiny’s child. That success came with problems; she lost her first love and endured depression for many years as the result of a very public split in her group. Nevertheless she came back fighting and now, 18 years after her initial debut, she continues to impress with work that continues to be fresh and exciting.
He legion of fans (they call themselves the Bey-Hive) are so loyal and follow her work so closely that she now no longer needs to resort to traditional marketing practices to ensure that her new releases are run away successes. Through all this she continues to have a very close, loving and stable relationship with her husband Jay Z and their young daughter Blue Ivy.
Whether she calls herself a feminist or not she has become a feminist role model to millions of girls and young women around the world who seek to emulate her hard work ethic and her success.
What more surprises does Beyoncé have in store for us? Only now entering her mid 30’s it seems she will have plenty more to spring.