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Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, simply known as Beyoncé (born 1981), is an American singer-songwriter and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child, and rose to fame in the late 1990s as lead singer of R&B girl-group Destiny's Child. Managed by her father Mathew Knowles, the group became one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. Their hiatus saw the release of Knowles' debut album Dangerously in Love (2003), which established her as a viable solo artist worldwide; it sold 11 million copies, earned five Grammy Awards and featured the Billboard number one singles "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy".
Following the disbandment of Destiny's Child in 2005, she released her second solo album, B'Day (2006), which contained hits "Irreplaceable" and "Beautiful Liar". Knowles also ventured into acting, with a Golden Globe nominated performance in Dreamgirls (2006), and starring roles in The Pink Panther (2006) and Obsessed (2009). Her marriage to rapper Jay-Z and portrayal of Etta James in Cadillac Records (2008) influenced her third album I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008), which saw the birth of her alter-ego Sasha Fierce and earned a record-setting six Grammy Awards in 2010, including Song of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". Knowles took a hiatus from music in 2010, took over management of her career and explored 1970s funk, 1980s pop and 1990s soul. As a result, her subsequent album, 4 (2011) deviated towards a more experimental sound and her fifth studio album Beyoncé (2013) explored "post-dubstep tinted future R&B."
A self-described "modern-day feminist", Knowles' songs are often characterized by themes of love, relationships and monogamy, as well as female sexuality and empowerment. On stage, her dynamic, highly-choreographed performances have led to critics hailing her as one of the best entertainers in contemporary popular music. Throughout a career spanning 15 years, she has won 17 Grammy Awards and sold over 118 million records as a solo artist and 60 million with Destiny's Child, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. The Recording Industry Association of America recognized Knowles as the Top Certified Artist in America during the 2000s decade. In 2009, Billboard named her the Top Radio Songs Artist of the Decade, the Top Female Artist of the 2000s and their Artist of the Millennium. In 2013, she was also included in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
In The New Yorker music critic Jody Rosen described Knowles as "the most important and compelling popular musician of the twenty-first century". Knowles has continuously drawn comparison to Michael Jackson for her powerful stage presence and impact on the music industry, also being referred to as the "heir-apparent to Michael Jackson's legacy".
Knowles' work has influenced numerous artists including Adele, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, Leona Lewis, Misha B, Nicole Scherzinger, Rita Ora, Jessie J, and Azealia Banks. American indie rock band White Rabbits also cited her an inspiration for their third album Milk Famous (2012), friend Gwyneth Paltrow studied Knowles at her live concerts while learning to become a musical performer for the 2010 film Country Strong. Nicki Minaj has stated that seeing Knowles' Pepsi commercial influenced her decision to appear in the company's 2012 global campaign.
Beyoncé's name is a tribute to her mother's maiden name.
At age seven, Knowles won a school talent show, singing John Lennon's "Imagine" to beat 15 and 16-year-olds.
In 1996, at age fifteen, Beyoncé got a contract with Columbia Records with the Girl's Tyme.
At age ninteen Knowles experienced depression following the split with Luckett and Roberson (other member of Destiny's Child) after being publicly blamed by the media, critics, and blogs for its cause. Her long-standing boyfriend also 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. Knowles 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. Knowles would later speak of her mother as the person who helped her fight it.
On April 4, 2008, Knowles married Jay-Z. Knowles is believed to have first started a relationship with Jay-Z after a collaboration on "'03 Bonnie & Clyde", which appeared on his seventh album The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse. Knowles appeared as Jay-Z's girlfriend in the music video for the song, which would further fuel speculation of their relationship. On April 4, 2008, Knowles and Jay-Z were married without publicity.
In 2011, documents obtained by WikiLeaks revealed that Knowles was one of many entertainers who had received extravagant sums to perform for the family of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Rolling Stone reported that the music industry was urging them to return the money they earned for the concerts; a spokesperson for Knowles later confirmed to The Huffington Post that she donated the money to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
Following the death of Osama bin Laden, Knowles 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.
On January 7, 2012, Knowles gave birth to a daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York under heavy security. Two days later, Jay-Z released "Glory", a song dedicated to their child.
Knowles and husband Jay-Z are friends with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Knowles 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.
Forbes magazine began reporting on Knowles' earnings in 2008, calculating that the $80 million earned between June 2007 to June 2008, for her music, tour, films and clothing line made her the world's best-paid music personality at the time, above Madonna and Celine Dion.
Knowles' vocal range spans 3.6 octaves. She has been identified as the centerpiece of Destiny's Child. The Daily Mail calls Knowles' voice "versatile", capable of exploring power ballads, soul, rock belting, operatic flourishes, and hip hop.
Knowles names Michael Jackson as her major musical influence and idol. She admires Diana Ross as an "all-around entertainer" and Whitney Houston whom she said "inspired me to get up there and do what she did."
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