Beyoncé – The Most Popular Female Entertainer of Our Generation

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It’s not an overstatement to say that Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is one of the most popular and bestselling musicians of our generation. She has sold more than 100 million records as a solo artist, and another 60 million records as the lead singer of the mega-popular R&B group Destiny’s Child. As a solo artist, Beyoncé has 6 studio albums that debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts.

And the critical acclaim has been just as great, with Beyoncé winning 22 Grammy Awards and becoming the most-nominated female performer in the history of the Grammys. Not only that, but also Beyoncé is now married to Jay-Z, making them perhaps the preeminent power couple in the entertainment industry. As of May 2017, her total net worth is estimated to be $350 million.

Beyoncé, the early years

So it might be surprising to learn that Beyoncé’s early years were not always so easy. She was born in September 1981 in Houston, Texas to Tina Knowles, a hairdresser and salon owner, and Mathew Knowles, a Xerox salesman. She spent her earliest years singing and performing, showing clear signs of being a musical prodigy. At the age of seven, for example, Beyoncé won a talent show where she was competing with girls twice her age. She also performed in the school choir, attended a music magnet school in the Houston area, and attended a special high school for the performing and visual arts.

But it was a chance encounter when she was only eight that changed her life forever. She was auditioning for a role in an all-girl entertainment group with her childhood friend Kelly Rowland, where she met the other girls who would form the group Girl’s Tyme. That group, as you might have guessed, became the template for the mega-famous Destiny’s Child. They even appeared on the national TV talent show “Star Search” together, but failed to win.

And it was in 1995, when Beyoncé was just 14, that her father took over management of the group. He quit his full-time job as a salesman and committed to making this all-girl group into a singing sensation. By 1996, the group had a contract with Columbia Records, and the rest is history.

Beyoncé becomes the lead signer and creative force of Destiny’s Child

In 1996, Girl’s Tyme officially changed its name to Destiny’s Child, and the group really took off. In 1997, the group released “Killing Time,” their debut song for a major label, which later appeared on the 1997 soundtrack for the movie “Men In Black.” And then came the group’s self-titled debut album and the first major hit, “No, No, No.” The group won some critical acclaim and posted moderate sales numbers for that first album.

The group soon followed up with a huge multi-platinum second album, The Writing’s On the Wall. That smash album contained some of the most popular songs recorded by Destiny’s Child, including “Bills, Bills, Bills”, “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” and “Say My Name.”  That last song – “Say My Name” – turned the band into a Grammy-winning sensation.

But it also led to some heartache, because the band was having a hard time sticking together. The band partially split up, and the media tabloids blamed Beyoncé. When two of the original girls were replaced by Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams, it was time to really turn up the heat and produce another great album. That led to the group’s most popular single ever, “Independent Women Part I,” which appeared on the soundtrack to the film “Charlie’s Angels” (2000).

But it was clear that the group was starting to split apart – and that was happening at the same time as the group was preparing to release its third studio album. At the same time, Beyoncé was making her name in the movie industry. In 2001, she appeared in the MTV made-for-TV film, “Carmen: A Hip Hopera,” which was loosely based on the famous French opera “Carmen.” In 2001, Destiny’s Child released their third album (Survivor), and it was a huge hit, with songs like “Bootylicious” and “Survivor.” The group released a holiday album at the end of 2001, but that was largely the end of Destiny’s Child for a few years.

Beyoncé, as the real star of the group, went on to appear in movies like “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (where she played Foxxy Cleopatra) and “The Fighting Temptations” (2003), where she starred alongside Cuba Gooding, Jr. It was now time for Beyoncé to really become a solo entertainment star.

Beyoncé Becomes a Mainstream Recording Star

It didn’t take long for Beyoncé to establish herself as one of the most popular singing sensations in the world. If she was known primarily as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child from 1996-2002, it was time for her to show the world what she could offer. Her first solo album, Dangerously in Love, was released in the summer of 2003, after initial solo debuts from two of her group mates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. But any guesses as to who sold more album copies?

Dangerously in Love ended up selling 11 million copies worldwide, and songs like “Crazy in Love” (featuring Jay-Z) became instant sensations. In fact, “Crazy in Love” became her first #1 single as a solo recording artist. She won all types of Grammy nominations for her work, and a total of 4 songs from that album cracked the Top 5 on the Billboard charts. The success from that album was incredible – it led to massively popular tours, a Super Bowl performance and, yes, the reunion of Destiny’s Child to create one more studio album, Destiny Fulfilled.

In 2006, on her 25th birthday, Beyoncé released her second solo album, B’Day, which easily became another album to debut at #1 on the Billboard charts. The album had several songs that were huge commercial successes (such as “Irreplaceable” and “Ring the Alarm”), and Beyoncé continued to work on film deals. She starred in the comedy “The Pink Panther” (2006) and the music industry drama “Dreamgirls,” where she played a pop singer based on Diana Ross.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z Become the Power Couple of the Entertainment Industry

In 2008, Beyoncé finally got married to Jay-Z, and that one event helped to catapult her to even more fame. She was a huge crossover star with so many different audiences, and the celebrity tabloids couldn’t get enough of this power couple.

In the period from 2008-2013, Beyoncé would go on to produce three more chart-topping Billboard albums, including I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008), 4 (2011) and Beyoncé (2013). The song that really made Beyoncé an undeniable global star was “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” which appeared on her I Am… Sasha Fierce album. Music video parodies of that song became, according to many, one of the first true dance crazes of the Internet era, with versions showing up everywhere you looked online.

It was during this time period that Beyoncé became involved in even more film roles. She appeared in the 2008 music biopic “Cadillac Records” and later in the thriller “Obsessed.”

And, of course, Beyoncé continued to produce some of the most popular music anywhere. On her 2011 studio album 4, for example, she sang “Run the World (Girls),” which became a major anthem for girls everywhere. That album ended up going platinum.

Her fifth studio album, Beyoncé, was a breakthrough in how it was released in 2013. It went straight to the iTunes Store without any marketing or promotion. Word of the new album spread virally across the Internet, quickly turning it into another #1 album,. That album featured one of her most famous songs, “Drunk in Love,” in which Jay-Z again appeared.

By this time, Beyoncé had had her first child (Blue Ivy) with Jay-Z, and her music began to explore new themes, such as motherhood and depression. That only made her more popular. At the 2015 Grammy Awards, Beyoncé was seemingly everywhere – she was nominated for 6 awards, and ended up winning 3 Grammys.

Beyoncé Establishes Herself As an Iconic Star of the Industry

In February 2016, Beyoncé was back with even more musical hits. She released the mega-popular song “Formation” and performed at the Super Bowl. Then, in April 2016, Beyoncé released her sixth studio album, “Lemonade,” which went straight to #1 on the Billboard charts. It was accompanied by the 1-hour HBO film, “Lemonade.”

That album was incredibly successful, with all 12 songs on the album charting simultaneously in the Top 100, making her the first female musical performer ever to achieve that feat. The album became a streaming sensation with over 100 million streams, and it also sold over 1.5 million copies. The album became her most critically acclaimed ever, and it was time for music critics – and not just her adoring fans – to gush over her rare talents.

Beyoncé Prepares For Her Next Era of Stardom

By 2017, it was clear that Beyoncé was the most popular female recording star anywhere in the world. Even though Adele ended up edging out Beyoncé for “Album of the Year” at the Grammys in 2017, even Adele admitted publicly that Lemonade was just “monumental,” incapable of being matched by any other performer.

Going forward, it looks like Beyoncé is already lining up new creative projects for 2017-2018 and beyond. For example, she will headline the Coachella festival in 2018, making her only the second female headliner of the festival ever. And now that Jay-Z and Beyoncé have had twins in June 2008, it will be interesting to see how that influences Beyoncé’s music going forward, as well as her ability to go on world tours.

But the key point is that, just 20 years after forming Destiny’s Child, and just 10 years after launching her own brilliant solo career, Beyoncé is now one of the most recognizable, most popular and most successful female recording stars of all-time.

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