Happy Birthday, Beyonce! A Look Through the Years
The superstar mom turns 31 on Sept 4! Take a look back at her rise to fame.(27 Photos)
Happy Birthday Beyonce!
As the superstar mom turns 31 on Sept 4, we look back at her rise to fame and road to motherhood.
Most Beautiful Woman
On April 25, People magazine announced that the Grammy-winning superstar is their pick for the 2012 World's Most Beautiful Woman. "I feel more beautiful than I've ever felt because I've given birth," said the new mom, who welcomed Blue Ivy in January. "I have never felt so connected, never felt like I had such a purpose on this earth."
You know you’ve got a bright future ahead of you when you’re a 7-year-old beating 15- and 16-year-olds at a talent competition. That was the case for Beyoncé, who won her first singing prize -- and a standing ovation -- by belting out John Lennon's “Imagine.” And long before she was Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé knew how to give a crowd its money’s worth: she would charge her parents’ friends five dollars to watch her perform at their home. (Worth it!) At 12, she sang in the choir at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Houston.
Beyoncé and five other Houston natives formed Gyrls Time, a “hip-hop rapping” group that held practices on the deck of the Knowles’ house and at Beyonce’s mother’s hair salon. It became even more of a family affair when Beyoncé’s dad, Mathew Knowles, left his job to manage the girls full-time. They competed on Star Search in 1993 wearing coordinated lime and purple raincoats and high-tops, yet lost to a band called Skeleton Crew (who certainly didn’t turn into Beyoncé-like stars). By 1998, the group released its first album with Columbia Records, but not before cutting out members and changing its name to Destiny’s Child, after a Book of Isaiah passage; the new and improved Destiny’s Child won three Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards in 1998 (here, they are pictured at the event).JEFF KRAVITZ/FILMMAGIC
It’s hard to even read the song titles without humming them: in 1999, “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “Say My Name” became the monster hits of Destiny Child’s second album, The Writing’s on The Wall. The album was also a critical success, earning Beyoncé and company two Grammy Awards in 2001 (they are pictured at the ceremony). But who that “company” was abruptly changed, with two bandmates replaced by two new members, and then one of the new additions was pushed out, leaving only Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams. Beyoncé’s dad-manager assured the press, “Destiny's Child is going to be fine” with or without the departing members, and they certainly were: their next album, Survivor, earned them another Grammy in 2002 and a new entry in the dictionary: “Bootylicious.”JEFF KRAVITZ/FILMMAGIC
Beyoncé made her first solo venture as Foxxy Cleopatra in 2002’s Austin Powers in Goldmember, showing off her abs -- and her sense of humor. She also contributed two songs for the soundtrack, including The Neptunes-produced “Work It Out.” She then starred in another big comedy, The Pink Panther, saying, “Thank God I'm able to play the straight person because I could never be the comedian… I just wanted to laugh all the time.”NEW LINE CINEMA
How can you tell when two musicians have started dating, even if they won’t publicly confirm it? Beyoncé and Jay-Z (pictured on TRL on Nov. 2, 2002) popped up as guest stars on each other’s tracks, of course. First, Beyoncé collaborated on Jay-Z’s song “03 Bonnie & Clyde,” and also played the infamous on-the-run couple in the video; he returned the favour by lending vocals to her song, “Crazy in Love” in 2003. A runaway couple who’s crazy in love? And you’re sure you don’t have something to tell us?KMAZUR/WIREIMAGE
Going solo is always scary, but it becomes a little less so when you immediately prove you’ve got the chops. That’s what Beyoncé did in June 2003, when she released her first solo album, Dangerously in Love, and it sold a massive 317,000 copies in its first week, with the title track soaring to number one on the charts. A few months later, the critics started to prove that they liked it, too -- that August, the album garnered Beyoncé three statuettes at the MTV's Video Music Awards. During the 2004 Grammys, Beyoncé proved that she was solid gold -- she collected a record-tying five awards and blew the audience away when she kicked off the show with The Purple One himself, Prince.FRANK MICELOTTA/GETTY IMAGES
Even though all three of the Destiny’s Child singers (pictured on Nov. 16, 2004, performing on Good Morning America) had been successful at performing on their own, they reunited for a final album together -- November 2004’s poignantly titled, Destiny Fulfilled. Kelly Rowland explained, "It was a no-brainer that all of us wanted to do another DC record. That's where we started” -- and it would also be where they finished. After going on a world tour to promote the album, they announced in June 2005 that the group would be breaking up "to pursue our personal goals and solo efforts in earnest." There were no hard feelings, as the trio solemnly swore in a statement announcing the split, "No matter what happens, we will always love each other as friends and sisters and will always support each other as artists."DEBRA L. ROTHENBERG/FILMMAGIC
A Passion for Fashion
Beyoncé's mom Tina Knowles had long designed the outrageous stage costumes for Destiny’s Child. In November 2005, the two (pictured at a fashion event at Macy's on Sept. 28, 2006) collaborated on a mass-market fashion line, House of Deréon, which was named after Beyoncé's grandmother Agnes Dereon, who had worked as a seamstress. Beyoncé's described the line as "affordable couture", to Women's Wear Daily, and explained, "The whole theme (of the line) is taking nothing and turning it into something because that's what my grandmother did with all kinds of fabrics. She just turned everything into masterpieces, and that's what my mother does."TASOS KATOPODIS/INFGOFF.COM
In 2006, Beyoncé starred in Dreamgirls, alongside Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose. The supporting role required her to drop 20 pounds and sing her heart out, but she wouldn't be taking center stage on screen. Did the diva mind? "I knew that the character I played wasn't the star," she told reporters in December 2006. "I'm already a star. I already have nine Grammys. Everyone knows I can sing. I did this because I wanted people to know that I can act and that I can play someone so different from myself." Even though the movie proved to be an Oscar-winning role of a lifetime for Hudson, Beyoncé was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2007 for her role in the movie.PARAMOUNT PICTURES
What’s the world’s best birthday present? Forget jewelry or a nice dinner -- how about a number-one record! That’s the gift Beyoncé gave herself when she released her second solo album, appropriately titled “B’Day,” for her 25th birthday on Sept. 4, 2006. Her fans gave her another present -- the album instantly rose to the top of the Billboard charts. At the 2007 Grammys, Beyoncé (pictured at her album release/birthday party at New York's 40/40 Club on Aug. 31, 2006) was nominated four times, and took home the award for Best Contemporary R&B album for “B’Day.”SCOTT WINTROW/GETTY IMAGES
Performing at a concert in Orlando, FL, on July 24, 2007, Beyoncé slipped and fell down a flight of stairs -- head first -- during a spirited performance of "Ring the Alarm." Like a true star, Beyoncé (pictured a few days later on TRL) didn't let the tumble keep her down. "(It) was a mere spot on an otherwise sensational, flawless show," said her rep the day after the spill. "It was a case of her coat's hem getting caught on her shoes, but Miss Knowles picked herself right up, without missing a beat, showing to all that she is the best." Beyoncé asked her fans to not post the video on YouTube -- of course, they did anyway.SCOTT GRIES/GETTY IMAGES
He Put a Ring On It
On April 4, 2008, after six years of dating, Beyoncé and Jay-Z (pictured a month later at the 40/40 Club in New York City) celebrated their love with a top-secret wedding. With 26-year-old Beyoncé in a voluminous white gown and 38-year-old Jay-Z in a black tuxedo, they exchanged vows in front of 40 close friends and family members, and didn’t opt for a bridal party. But not everything was scaled down: they partied in a tent that stood inside Jay-Z’s 13,500-sq.-ft. New York City penthouse, decorated with 70,000 white orchids flown in from Thailand. "It was a very emotional wedding -- lots of crying -- and really very spiritual," said a guest to People. But they couldn’t keep their Big Day a secret forever: although they still had not confirmed their nuptials, Beyonce was spotted wearing her ring -- an 18-carat, $5-million stunner -- in September 2008.JAMIE MCCARTHY/WIREIMAGE
In November 2008, Beyoncé (pictured performing at the American Music Awards that month) introduced the album I Am…Sasha Fierce, by posting a message for her fans on her website saying, “I have worked on this album for close to one year. I have taken the time so I can create my sound. Something that says who I am at this stage in my life. I have poured my heart and soul into it. It is my baby.” Beyoncé winnowed the album down from a whopping 70 songs -- luckily, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” made the cut, spawning internet copycats and Justin Timberlake dancing the iconic routine on Saturday Night Live. The album received 10 Grammy nominations in 2009, tying Beyonce with Lauren Hill as the female with most Grammy nominations in one year; she won six of them, creating a new record for the most Grammys won on a single night by a female artist.JEFF KRAVTIZ/FILMMAGIC
Talk about Bootylicious! Beyoncé gained 15 lbs. to play the role of blues singer Etta James in Cadillac Records in 2008. "It was way easier -- and tastier -- than having to lose so much weight for Dreamgirls," she told InStyle. For the December 2008 film, which also starred Adrien Brody and Jeffrey Wright, Beyoncé went blonde -- and really pushed herself to the limit on set. "Etta expressed herself; she was bold," Beyoncé told Essence. “This is the first time I felt that naked and vulnerable acting."COURTESY OF SONY BMG FILM
A Historic Performance
There was a point in time where you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing one of Beyoncé’s public performances, like when she sang "Ave Maria" at Rockefeller Center's tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 4, 2008. It was only topped by Beyoncé performing the Etta James classic “At Last” in February 2009 for Barack and Michelle Obama’s official first dance at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. "I could not be more honoured and excited that they have asked me to be part of this moment in history,” Beyoncé told Entertainment Tonight. "To sing 'At Last' while they have their first dance is a dream come true."DAVID HUME KENNERLY/GETTY IMAGES
Beyoncé has certainly lit up the silver screen before, playing singers in her past two hits -- but could she pull off a thriller? In April 2009, Beyoncé starred in the movie Obsessed, which topped the weekend box-office chart and brought in $28.5 million. In the film, Beyoncé has to go head-to-head with a psycho (Ali Larter) who's trying to kill her and steal her husband. "I did the stunts," Beyoncé revealed to Access Hollywood. "Anything I knew I could physically do, I did. They had a stunt double there, they offered -- but I wanted to do (the stunts) because I'm crazy. I felt so empowered."COURTESY OF SCREEN GEMS
Beyoncé always keeps it classy -- her friends, not so much. Nominated for a whopping nine MTV Video Music Awards in 2009, Beyoncé was favoured to win Best Female Video for “Single Ladies,” but the award instead went to Taylor Swift -- and Kanye West interrupted her speech to say Beyoncé should’ve won! Later in the night, Beyoncé won Video of the Year and gave up her moment in the spotlight so that Swift could finish her acceptance speech. Beyoncé passed the mic on after saying: "I remember being 17-years-old, up for my first MTV award with Destiny's Child and it was one of the most exciting moments of my life, so I would like for Taylor to come out and have her moment." Later, Swift gushed to reporters, “It was so wonderful and gracious of her. She's always been a great person and I thought I couldn't love Beyoncé more and tonight happened and it was just wonderful."CHRISTOPHER POLK/GETTY IMAGES
Gaga for Collaborations
Tied as the most-nominated pop stars at the VMA’s, you might think Beyoncé and Lady Gaga would be competitive -- instead, they decided to partner up. In November 2009, Gaga joined Beyoncé in “Video Phone” (pictured on the left) and co-starred in its stylish, retro video. In February, Beyoncé returned the favour by guesting on Gaga’s song “Telephone,” (pictured on the right) which received a Grammy nomination in 2010. Regarding the perfect pairing, Gaga told MTV, "You know she is such a beautiful person, and I gotta tell you, I just adore her. I had kind of lost faith a little bit in meeting artists in the business -- and then I met Beyoncé."
"I definitely want to have a child," Beyonce told Allure in its February 2010 issue -- and she and her loved ones subsequently spent the next month shooting down reports that she and Jay-Z were expecting. Maybe Beyonce was still scared from watching her sister Solange give birth to her nephew Daniel in 2004 (they are pictured together Feb. 11, 2007). "I was there in the delivery room and it kind of traumatized me," she told Ellen DeGeneres in November 2008. Luckily, the singer (who's now expecting her first child) quickly got over her fears!KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE
BFFs With Gwyneth
Talk about a power couple: Jay-Z and Beyoncé may have nothing on Beyoncé and Gwyneth Paltrow! At the 2011 Grammys in February, the unlikely besties held hands and even wore matching hairdos. “Beyoncé is the most talented human being on the planet…it’s mind-blowing,” Paltrow gushed to Harper's Bazaar U.K. in its March 2011 issue. She and husband Chris Martin were some of the few celebrity guests invited to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s wedding.KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE
A Family Affair
It’s tricky to mix business and family, as Beyoncé did by hiring her dad, Mathew Knowles, as her longtime manager (pictured together in 2005). But in March 2011, Beyoncé dumped him. Was it professional or personal? The rumor is that he lost his job -- at least in part -- because he split with Beyoncé’s mom, Tina, after nearly 30 years when the media started buzzing that he was having an affair with actress Alexsandra Wright (a paternity test later proved he fathered her child). When she let her father go, Beyoncé released a statement saying: “I am grateful for everything he has taught me. He is my father for life and I love my dad dearly" -- even if she no longer wanted to employ him.GETTY IMAGES
Dressed and Stressed
At the May 2011 Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Gala to celebrate Alexander McQueen, Beyoncé rocked a super-tight, beaded black and gold Emilio Pucci mermaid-style gown. It was gorgeous, but so constricting that she couldn't work the red carpet -- which resulted in heckling by the photogs -- and she had to be escorted up the red staircase by Jay-Z and another man, since she could only take baby steps.DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/FILMMAGIC
On June 28, Beyonce released her fourth album, 4. The 12-track record debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and met a mostly positive critical reception. The first few singles include "Run the World (Girls)," "Best Thing I Never Had" and "1+1" -- and the songs (as well as their accompanying music videos) have won over audiences. So, what does the record sound like? "I listened to a lot of Jackson 5 and New Edition, but also Adele, Florence and the Machine and Prince," Beyonce told MTV. "Add in my hip-hop influences, and you can hear how broad it is."COURTESY OF BEYONCEONLINE.COM
The superstar shocked fans when she debuted a sizeable baby bump on the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28. "I have a surprise," Beyonce told photographers as she cradled her tummy. She later took the stage to sing "Love on Top" and ended the performance by whipping open her sparkly blazer to reveal her bump. The crowd went wild, but the best reaction came from hubby Jay-Z, who was grinning from ear to ear.JASON MERRITT/GETTY IMAGES
On Jan. 7, 2012, Beyonce and Jay-Z became the proud parents to a darling little girl. Baby Blue Ivy's arrival immediately set the Twitterverse buzzing with well-wishes from famous friends. Beyonce's sister Solange Knowles called the baby "the most beautiful girl in the world," while pal Rihanna tweeted: "Welcome to the world princess Carter! Love, Aunty Rih." Beyonce and Jay-Z confirmed Blue's name and birthdate in a joint statement. "Her birth was emotional and extremely peaceful -- we are in heaven," the parents gushed. "It was the best experience of both of our lives."
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