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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Ed Sheeran – British Singer, Songwriter – Biography

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In just a few short years, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has emerged as one of the hottest new performers out of the UK.  Still only 26 years old, he has produced three chart-topping albums, toured with Taylor Swift, and become one of the most followed British celebrities on social media. It seems like every new artistic project he takes on becomes instantly successful.

Early life of Ed Sheeran

Edward Sheeran was born in 1991 in Halifax, West Yorkshire and grew up in Framlingham, Suffolk. As a young child, he listened to the records of Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, dreaming of becoming a big-time performer. With his parents, he went to live concerts of Clapton, Dylan and Paul McCartney, and each time, they helped to form his future musical style. As a teenager, he acted, played guitar, wrote songs, and develop a real appreciation for music.

His first collection of work was Spinning Man, which was released in 2004 when he was just thirteen. He moved to London in 2008, and that’s where he started to become known as an up-and-coming talent. He released another EP, You Need Me, before getting noticed by other acts.

He was also active online, where other artists learned about him and his music. In late 2009, he began attending the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, Surrey. And in early 2010, he released his critically acclaimed EP Loose Change, which featured the debut single that everyone is still talking about, “The A Team.”

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That was 2010, when he was still only 19 years old, but he was determined to really hit it big, so he decided to take his musical act across the Atlantic to Los Angeles. He had no contacts in the U.S. music industry, but was soon discovered by the likes of celebrity Jamie Foxx. He also became a YouTube sensation, and his fans included big-time celebrities like Elton John.

In 2010, Sheeran released two more EPs, Ed Sheeran: Live At the Bedford and Songs I Wrote With Amy. It was clear that he was building a lot of momentum for his career, and that led to the release of yet another independent EP, No. 5 Collaborations Project.

What was so amazing about this EP is that it went straight to #2 on iTunes despite not having any promotion behind it. He also wasn’t yet signed to a label! So you could say that it was his talent alone that made him a singing sensation – the more people who heard him sing, the more people who fell in love with his music. It was clear what was going to happen next – he was going to be signed to a major label, and he would produce a full studio album.

Ed Sheeran enters the pop music mainstream

In April 2011, Ed Sheeran released his song “The A Team” as a digital download in the UK after performing the song on a music TV show. There was so much acclaim around the song that it quickly became the bestselling debut single of the year. It became a Top 10 hit around the world, even in places like New Zealand and Japan.  Sheeran then released three more singles, all of which promptly became Top 10 hits.

Based on all this initial success, it was finally time to release a full studio album – + – with the help of his new record label, Asylum Records. The album + became a bestseller in the UK, and also topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States.

And that success created even more opportunities for Sheeran – he performed “The A Team” for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, and he also performed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, further raising his profile in the world.

Then came another breakthrough – and that was his collaboration with Taylor Swift, who contacted Sheeran about touring together. From March to September 2013, Sheeran was the opening act for Taylor Swift’s Red Tour. And, along the way, he continued to pick up awards.

His song “The A Team” was nominated for “Song of the Year” at the 2013 Grammy Awards, and at the 2014 Grammy Awards, he was nominated for “Best New Artist.” By this time, he was now headlining major concert venues in New York, such as Madison Square Garden, and it was clear that he was a truly huge musical star in the making.

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Another big career move for Ed Sheeran

However, you can’t become a major music star with only album, and so it was time to start thinking about how to follow-up the phenomenal success of +. In March 2014, Sheeran began releasing new music that would become the basis for his second studio album, x. The first single for that album was “Take It Back,” and the second single was “Sing.” He also released an acoustic ballad, “One.”

Then, in June 2014, Sheeran released the full studio album. As might be expected by now, the album skyrocketed to #1 in both the UK and the US. And Sheeran embarked on another world tour to promote it. Then came the release of “Thinking Out Loud,” which officially became the album’s third single. It also was a spectacular success, and Sheeran became one of the top artists on both iTunes and Spotify.

That led to a lot of critical acclaim. For example, his album x picked up a huge nomination – “Album of the Year” – at the 2015 Grammy Awards.  In addition to picking up awards, Sheeran was also co-hosting big-time shows, like the 2015 Much Music Video Awards in Toronto.

And he even was an opening act for the Rolling Stones in June 2015.  His single “Thinking Out Loud” picked up two Grammy Awards in 2016, and his album x was officially the second-bestselling album of 2015, trailing only 25 by Adele.

A timeout from music and then a big return for Ed Sheeran

With all of that public success, and plenty of performing with some of the biggest musical acts in the world, it was time for Ed Sheeran to take a timeout from music and plan his next steps. That turned into a year-long hiatus from music.

But then something very amazing happened in December 2016 – Sheeran began leaking hints and clues about his new album. In January 2017, it was time to release the first new music from his third studio album, which was to be named ¸(“divide”).

The first two songs were “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” – and both were complete blockbuster smashes. In fact, “Shape of You” debuted at #1 and “Castle on the Hill” debuted at #2 –the first time that had happened in UK history. And it wasn’t just in the UK where Sheeran’s music was causing waves – “Shape of You” became a huge hit internationally.

In the U.S., “Shape of You” went straight to #1, while “Castle on the Hill” topped out at #6. He became the first-ever artist in the U.S. to have two songs debut at the same time in the Top 10.  Sheeran now plans to tour Europe, South America and North America to support this third studio album.

More superstardom ahead for Ed Sheeran

So what’s next for this talented UK musician? In addition to being a phenomenally successful and popular singer-songwriter, it now looks like Sheeran is becoming a big-time record producer. He launched his own label, Gingerbread Man Records, in August 2015. Since then, the label has launched two up-and-coming stars, Jamie Lawson and Foy Vance.

And Sheeran is also becoming more and more involved in charitable ventures. He’s particularly involved with philanthropies and charities in his home county of Suffolk in the UK. He has also performed concerts in support of victims of Africa’s deadly Ebola virus.

And don’t forget about Sheeran’s potential future career in acting. He’s already appeared in a few soap operas – in New Zealand, the U.S. and Australia. And, most interestingly, he’s now preparing for a role in a medieval-themed drama (“The Bastard Executioner”) appearing on FX. According to Sheeran, this was a purposeful attempt to play against type – he didn’t want to be someone who just appeared in soap operas or romantic comedies.

In terms of his personal life, it appears that Sheeran may be getting married soon. In May 2017, details started to emerge about his engagement with Cherry Seaborn. (In hindsight, that might be why Sheeran decided to take a year off from music!)

What’s clear now is that Ed Sheeran is truly one of the music industry’s brightest stars. At the age of 26, it seems like he is on top of the world. Every new single he releases goes straight to #1, and he is touring and performing with some of the biggest names.

How many other people have performed with Elton John, the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift in a 24-month period? Going forward, the musical world is waiting expectantly for the release of new music from Sheeran’s third studio album. It’s clear that this album ¸ going to be a huge smash hit, just like + and x.

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