Beyoncé Giselle Knowles (born September 4, 1981), often known by the mononym Beyoncé (pronounced /biˈjɒnseɪ/ bee-YON-say), is an American recording artist, actress and fashion designer. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she enrolled in various performing arts schools and was first exposed to singing and dancing competitions as a child. Knowles rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny's Child, one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time.
During the hiatus of Destiny's Child, Knowles released her debut solo album Dangerously in Love in 2003, which spawned the number one hits "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy" and became one of the most successful albums of that year, earning her a then record-tying five Grammy Awards. Following the group's disbandment in 2005, Knowles released her second solo album, B'Day in 2006. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and included the hits "Irreplaceable" and "Beautiful Liar". Her third solo album I Am... Sasha Fierce was released in 2008, and included the anthemic "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", which achieved fame for its intricate choreography, prompting a legion of imitations and parodies from men and women all around the world. The album earned Knowles six Grammys at the 52nd Grammy Awards, breaking the record for most Grammy Awards won by a female artist in one night. www.wdalaw.com Apart from her work in music, Knowles has also been involved in acting. She made her debut in 2001, in the musical film Carmen: A Hip Hopera, and also starred in the film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical, Dreamgirls (2006), which earned her two Golden Globe nominations. In 2004, Knowles and her mother introduced their family's fashion line, House of Deréon, and has also endorsed brands such as Pepsi, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and L'Oréal. In June 2010, Knowles was ranked second on Forbes list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential celebrities in the world, and first on its list of the Most Powerful and Influential musicians in the world.
Knowles has earned numerous awards and accolades. She is one of the most honored artists by the Grammys, and third among female artists, with a total of 16 Grammy Awards — 13 as a solo artist and 3 as a member of Destiny's Child. In 2007, she became the first female artist to be awarded the International Artist Award at the American Music Awards. Knowles was ranked the 4th Artist of the 2000s decade by Billboard and was listed the most successful female artist of the decade, as well as the top radio artist of the decade. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), listed Knowles as the top certified artist of the decade. To date, she has sold 75 million records worldwide making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
1981-1996: Early life and career beginnings
Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Mathew Knowles, a professional record manager, and Tina Knowles (née Beyoncé), a costume designer and hair stylist. Knowles' father is African American and her mother is of Creole (African, Native American, and French) descent. Knowles was baptized after her mother's maiden name, as a tribute to her mother She is the elder sister of Solange, a singer-songwriter and actress.
Knowles was schooled at St. Mary's Elementary School in Texas, where she enrolled in dance classes, including ballet and jazz. Her talent in singing was discovered when her dance instructor began humming a song and she finished it, hitting the high-pitched notes. Knowles' interest in music and performing began after participating in a school talent show. She sang John Lennon's Imagine and won the competition. At age seven, Knowles started gaining attention from the press, having been mentioned in the Houston Chronicle as a nominee for the local performing arts award The Sammy. In the fall of 1990, Knowles enrolled in Parker Elementary School, a music magnet school in Houston, where she would perform on-stage with the school's choir. She also attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and later went to Alief Elsik High School, located in the Houston suburban munincipality, Alief. Knowles was a soloist in the choir of her church, in St. John's United Methodist Church. She only lasted in the choir for two years.
At the age of eight, Knowles met LaTavia Roberson while in an audition for an all-girl entertainment group. They, along with Knowles' friend Kelly Rowland, were placed into a group that performed rapping and dancing. Originally named Girl's Tyme, they were eventually cut down to six members. West coast R&B producer Arne Frager flew into Houston to see them. He eventually brought them to his studio, The Plant Recording Studios, in Northern California, with Knowles' vocals being featured. As part of efforts to sign Girl's Tyme to a major label record deal, Frager's strategy was to début them in Star Search, the biggest talent show on national TV that time. Girl's Tyme participated in the competition but lost it because the song they performed was not good, Knowles herself admitted. Knowles had her first "professional setback" after that defeat but regained confidence after learning that pop stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake had also the same experience To manage the group, Knowles' father (who was at that time a medical-equipment salesman) resigned in 1995 from his job. He dedicated his time and established a "boot camp" for their training. The move reduced Knowles' family's income by half and her parents were forced to move into separated apartments. Not long after the inclusion of Rowland, Mathew cut the original lineup to four, with LeToya Luckett joining in 1993. Rehearsing in Tina's Headliners Salon and their backyards, the group continued performing as an opening act for other established R&B girl groups of the time; Tina contributed to the cause by designing their costumes, which she continued to do throughout the Destiny's Child era. With the continued support of Mathew, they auditioned before record labels and were finally signed to Elektra Records. They moved to Atlanta to work on their first recording, only to be cut by the record company in 1995. They would return home to start over again. This would put a strain on the Knowles, and Beyoncé's parents separated briefly when she was 14. In 1996, the family reunited, and to coincide with that, the girls got a contract with Columbia Records.
1997–2001: Destiny's Child era and depression
Main article: Destiny's Child
Destiny's Child star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The group changed its name to Destiny's Child in 1993, based on a passage in the Book of Isaiah. Together, they performed in local events and, after four years on the road, the group was signed to Columbia Records in late 1997. That same year, Destiny's Child recorded their major label début song, "Killing Time", for the soundtrack to the 1997 film, Men in Black. The following year, the group released their self-titled debut album, scoring their first major hit "No, No, No". The album established the group as a viable act in the music industry, amassing moderate sales and winning the group three Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards for "Best R&B/Soul Single" for "No, No, No", "Best R&B/Soul Album of the Year" and "Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist". The group released their multi-platinum second album The Writing's on the Wall in 1999. The record features some of the group's most widely known songs such as "Bills, Bills, Bills", the group's first number-one single, "Jumpin' Jumpin'", and "Say My Name", which became their most-successful song at the time, and would remain one of their signature songs. "Say My Name" won the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and the Best R&B Song at the 43rd Grammy Awards. The Writing's on the Wall sold more than eight million copies. During this time, Knowles recorded a duet with Marc Nelson on the song "After All Is Said and Done" for the soundtrack to the 1999 film, The Best Man.
Luckett and Roberson filed a lawsuit against the group for breach of contract. Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin appeared on the video of "Say My Name", implying that Luckett and Roberson had already been replaced. Eventually, Luckett and Roberson left the group. Franklin would eventually fade from the group after five months, as evidenced by her absences during promotional appearances and concerts. She attributed her departure to negative vibes in the group resulting from the strife. During this time, Knowles had experienced depression from an accumulation of struggles: the publicized split of Luckett and Roberson, being publicly attacked by the media, critics and blogs for causing the split-up, and a longstanding boyfriend (that she had dated from age 12 to 19 years) leaving her. The depression was so severe it had lasted for a couple of years, while she had 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. All of these events had made her question herself and who her friends were, describing the situation she said, "Now that I was famous, I was afraid I'd never find somebody again to love me for me. I was afraid of making new friends." She remembers her mother, Tina Knowles, for finally saying to help her out of her depression, "Why do you think a person wouldn't love you? Don't you know how smart and sweet and beautiful you are?"
After settling on their final lineup, the trio recorded "Independent Women Part I", which appeared on the soundtrack to the 2000 film, Charlie's Angels. It became their best-charting single, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for eleven consecutive weeks. Later that year, Luckett and Roberson withdrew their case against their now-former band mates, while maintaining the suit against Mathew, which ended in both sides agreeing to stop public disparaging. In early 2001, while Destiny's Child was completing their third album, Knowles landed a major role in the MTV made-for-television film, Carmen: A Hip Hopera, starring alongside American actor Mekhi Phifer. Set in Philadelphia, the film is a modern interpretation of the 19th century opera Carmen by French composer Georges Bizet. Luckett and Roberson refiled their lawsuit after Destiny's Child's third album, Survivor was released in May 2001, claiming that the songs were aimed at them. The album débuted at number one on U.S. Billboard 200 with 663,000 units sold. To date, Survivor has sold over ten million copies worldwide, over forty percent of which were sold in the U.S. alone. The album spawned other number-one hits, "Bootylicious" and the title track, "Survivor", the latter of which earned the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. After releasing their holiday album, 8 Days of Christmas, the group announced a hiatus to pursue solo careers.
2002-2004: Solo career, films, and Dangerously in Love
In 2002, Knowles co-starred in the comedy film Austin Powers in Goldmember, playing Foxxy Cleopatra, opposite of Mike Myers. Knowles recorded her first solo single, "Work It Out", for the film's soundtrack. The following year, Knowles starred opposite Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the romantic comedy film, The Fighting Temptations, and recorded numerous songs for the film's soundtrack, including "Fighting Temptation" and a cover version of "Fever". During this time, Knowles was featured on her then-boyfriend Jay-Z's hit single, "'03 Bonnie & Clyde". She also recorded a version of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" and released it in March 2003. Luther Vandross and Knowles remade the duet "The Closer I Get to You", which was originally recorded by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway in 1977. Their version won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals the following year, and Vandross' "Dance with My Father", which also featured Knowles, won the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
After Williams and Rowland released their solo efforts, Knowles released her début solo album, Dangerously in Love, in June 2003. Featuring many musical collaborators, the album contained a combination of uptempo and slow jam songs. Dangerously in Love debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and certified platinum four times by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Australia. It remains as Knowles' best-selling album to date, with sales of 4.7 million copies in the United States, as of July 2009. Worldwide, the album has sold more than six million copies.
Dangerously in Love yielded two number one singles. "Crazy in Love", featuring Jay-Z, was released as the album's lead single, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight consecutive weeks, as well as topping many charts worldwide. The song's music video won three awards at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in the categories of Best Female Video, Best R&B Video, and Best Choreography. The second single, "Baby Boy" featuring dancehall singer Sean Paul, spent nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, one week longer than "Crazy in Love". In support of the album, Knowles embarked on her first solo concert tour, the Dangerously in Love Tour, in November 2003. The tour only reached Europe, before Knowles joined Alicia Keys, Missy Elliott, and Tamia for the Verizon Ladies First Tour in March 2004. At the 46th Grammy Awards, Knowles received a then record-tying five Grammy Awards, which included the Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Dangerously in Love 2", Best R&B Song for "Crazy in Love", and an additional two awards with Luther Vandross. Knowles shared this distinction with four other female artists: Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse, up until 2010, when she won six Grammy Awards in one night.
2004–2007: Destiny's Child reunion, films, and B'Day
In 2004, Knowles planned to release a follow-up to Dangerously in Love, which would feature some of the left-over recordings. However, her musical aspirations were put on hiatus due to conflicting schedules, including her recording with Destiny's Child for what would be their final album. After a three-year journey that involved concentration on individual solo projects, Knowles rejoined Rowland and Williams for their final album, Destiny Fulfilled in November 2004. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200, and reached the top-ten in eight charts worldwide. The album spawned three hit singles, "Lose My Breath", "Soldier" and "Cater 2 U". In support of the album, Destiny's Child embarked on the 2005 Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It world tour, which began in April 2005; culminating in September of that year. During the Barcelona, Spain stop of their tour, Rowland announced they would disband after the end of their final North American leg in September 2005. In October 2005, Destiny's Child released a compilation album, #1's, which included all of their number-one hits and most of their well-known songs. It also included three new tracks, including "Check on It" featuring Slim Thug. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Knowles her third number one on the chart as a solo artist. #1's debuted at number one on Billboard 200 and certified platinum by the RIAA. In March 2006, Destiny's Child reunited to accept a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In late 2005, Knowles once again put her second solo album on hold, after landing a role in Dreamgirls, the film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical about a 1960s singing group, loosely based on Motown all-female group, The Supremes. Released in December 2006, Dreamgirls starred Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson. Knowles recorded several songs for the film's soundtrack, including the original song, "Listen". In the film, she portrays the Diana Ross-based character, Deena Jones. In 2007, Knowles received two Golden Globe Award nominations for the film; Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and Best Original Song for "Listen". Continuing her film career, Knowles co-starred in the film, The Pink Panther, playing the role of Xania, an international pop star, opposite Steve Martin, who plays Inspector Clouseau. Released on February 10, 2006, the film débuted at number one at the box office, doing $21.7 million in ticket sales in its first week of release.
Much of the theme and musical style of Knowles' second album were inspired by her role in Dreamgirls. She worked on the album with previous musical collaborators, Rich Harrison, Rodney Jerkins and Sean Garrett, at the Sony Music Studios in New York City. She co-wrote and co-produced nearly all songs included on the album, which was completed in just three weeks. The album titled, B'Day was released in the United States on September 5, 2006, to coincide with the celebration of her twenty-fifth birthday. It débuted at number one on the Billboard 200, giving Knowles her second consecutive number one album in the US. It also peaked in the top-ten in eighteen charts worldwide. To date, the album has sold more than six million copies worldwide. It earned Knowles the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 49th Grammy Awards.
Its lead single, "Déjà Vu" featuring Jay-Z, topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Dance Club Songs charts in the United States. and became Knowles' second UK solo number-one single. The album's second international single, "Irreplaceable", topped the charts in five countries, while reaching the top-five in the UK, Canada and Netherlands. The song received a nomination for Record of the Year at the 50th Grammy Awards. On April 3, 2007, Knowles re-released B'Day, as a deluxe edition, featuring five new tracks and Spanish-language versions of "Irreplaceable", and "Listen". Her following single, "Beautiful Liar" with Colombian singer Shakira, was the first single released from the deluxe edition. The song became another number one hit for Knowles, topping eleven charts worldwide. It won the award for Most Earthshattering Collaboration at the 2007 MTV Video Music Award. In support of the album, Knowles embarked on her second solo concert tour, The Beyoncé Experience, visiting over ninety venues worldwide, which was made into the concert DVD, The Beyoncé Experience Live!.
2008–2010: Marriage to Jay-Z, I Am... Sasha Fierce, and films
In 2002, Knowles began dating American rapper Jay-Z, with whom she has collaborated with several times. Rumors began to circulate about their relationship after Knowles was featured on his song, "'03 Bonnie & Clyde". In spite of persistent rumors about their relationship, they remained discreet about it. They married on April 4, 2008 in New York City. Knowles did not publicly début her wedding ring until the Fashion Rocks concert on September 5, 2008, in New York City. Before they were married, Knowles and Jay-Z were listed as the Most Powerful Couple for Time magazine's 100 Most Influential people of 2006. In January 2009, Forbes ranked them as Hollywood's top-earning couple, with a combined total of $162 million. They also made it to the top of the list the following year, with a combined total of $122 million between June 2008 and June 2009.
Knowles released her third studio album, I Am... Sasha Fierce on November 18, 2008. Upon its release, it received generally mixed to positive reviews from most music critics; according to the music review aggregation of Metacritic, the album received an average score of 62/100. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, giving Knowles her third consecutive number one album in the US. Eventually, she became the third female artist of the 2000s decade to have her first three albums debut at the top spot of the chart. To date, I Am... Sasha Fierce has sold six million copies worldwide.
Knowles performing "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" during her I Am... Tour in 2009
The album was proceeded with the release of its two lead singles, "If I Were a Boy" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". The first single, "If I Were a Boy" topped eight charts worldwide, including the United Kingdom and reached the top-ten in many other charts. "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, giving Knowles' her fifth number-one single, and was also successful in other international markets, peaking in top-ten positions around the world. The song's music video has achieved fame for its intricate choreography, which has been credited as having started the "first major dance craze of both the new millennium and the Internet". This prompted a legion of imitations and parodies from men and women all around the world, including celebrities such as pop singers Justin Timberlake and Joe Jonas, U.S. President Barack Obama and actor Tom Hanks. It received nine nominations at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and ultimately won the award for Video of the Year, and an additional two awards, though its loss in the Best Female Video category to Taylor Swift's "You Belong with Me" led to a controversy during the ceremony.
In December 2008, Knowles starred in the musical biopic Cadillac Records as Etta James. She performed James' classic hit "At Last" at the Lincoln Memorial festivities in honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama and his wife Michelle's first dance as President and First lady of America, on January 20, 2009. During this time, Knowles released the fourth single off I Am... Sasha Fierce, "Halo". The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Knowles' twelfth top-ten single on the chart as a solo artist. With this feat, Knowles achieved the most top tens on the Hot 100 among any other female artists in the 2000s. In support of the album, Knowles embarked on her third concert tour, the I Am... Tour, which began in March 2009; culminating in February 2010. In April 2009, Knowles starred opposite Ali Larter and Idris Elba in a thriller film called, Obsessed. The film proved to be a commercial success, and grossed $11.1 million on its first day of release, and ended its opening weekend at number one, with a total of $28.5 million. "Video Phone" featuring pop singer Lady Gaga received two nominations at the 2010 BET Awards for "Video of the Year" and "Best Collaboration", winning the former category on April 27, 2010. It also received five nominations at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, in the categories of "Best Choreography", "Best Collaboration", "Best Pop Video", "Best Female Video" and "Best Art Direction".
Knowles received ten nominations at the 52nd Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for I Am... Sasha Fierce, Record of the Year for "Halo", and Song of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", among others. This tied her with Lauryn Hill for most Grammy nominations in a single year by a female artist. Knowles ultimately set the record for the most Grammy awards won on a single night by a female artist, when she won six awards from her ten nominations; Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Halo", Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "At Last".
In January 2010, Knowles was interviewed by USA Today and announced plans to take a break from music in 2010. She stated, "it's definitely time to take a break, to recharge my batteries. ... I'd like to take about six months and not go into the studio. I need to just live life, to be inspired by things again." During this time, a 60 Minutes segment aired, revealing Knowles was homeschooled as a child and prays before every performance. In February 2010, she featured on Lady Gaga's song, "Telephone". The song reached number one on the US Pop Songs chart, thus becoming the sixth number-one on the chart for both Knowles and Gaga. With this, they both tied with Mariah Carey for most number-ones since the Nielsen BDS-based Top 40 airplay chart launched in 1992. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
2010-present: Untitled fourth studio album
In late 2009, producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins confirmed on his twitter account, that he is working on tracks for Knowles' fourth studio album. Other songwriters and producers also working on the album, include Jim Jonsin, Ne-Yo Sean Garrett The Dream, Symbolyc One Diplo, Switch and Derek E. Miller. In July 2010, it was revealed that Knowles had expressed interest in recording a song for the album that was written by Irish band, The Script. She heard a song the band recorded for their second album, when it was passed around their record company, Sony Music. While on the set of filming a television commercial for Vizio, Knowles was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight and confirmed reports that she had begun working on the album. "I'm actually in the studio now writing songs and producing ... I have a lot of live instruments that I'm putting into the tracks to try to change the sound and make my own genre of music. So, I'll be shooting videos and everybody will be watching them on their Vizio televisions soon." When asked to clarify what she meant by creating her own genre, in an interview with MTV during the New York screening of her I Am... World Tour DVD release, Knowles replied "Well, I wouldn't say I'm inventing a new genre ... I'm mixing every type of genre that I love and I'm inspired by every type of genre. ... It's not R&B. It's not typically pop. It's not rock. It's just everything I love all mixed together in my own little gumbo of music." She also revealed that Fela Kuti, The Stylistics, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson's Off the Wall have inspired the album. Rap-Up magazine have confirmed the album will be released in 2011. According to Billboard, Beyoncé will perform a 90-minute headline set at the Glastonbury 2011 Festival on June 26th.
Aside from music, Knowles will be making a return to acting, starring in a remake of A Star Is Born, to be directed and produced by Clint Eastwood for Warner Bros. The remake will be the fourth telling of the "A Star Is Born" tale, the most memorable in recent years being the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
Music and voice
"Trust in Me"
While predominately R&B, Knowles' music explores various styles. The Daily Mail calls Knowles' voice "versatile", capable of exploring power ballads, soul, rock belting, operatic florishes, and hip hop.
Knowles' prominent use of melisma and other vocal ornamentation earns her both praise and criticism from critics and fans.
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Knowles' music is generally contemporary R&B, but she also incorporates pop, funk, hip hop, and soul into her songs. While she almost exclusively releases English songs, Knowles recorded several Spanish records for the re-release of B'Day. Prior to recording the Spanish titles on the album's re-release, Knowles was coached phonetically by American record producer, Rudy Perez. She also recorded a Spanish song during her time in Destiny's Child, and received favorable responses from their Latin fans. Knowles learned Spanish in school when she was young, but can now only speak a few words of the language.
Since Destiny's Child, Knowles has artistically been involved in her career. She received co-writing credits for most of the songs recorded by the group, as well as her solo efforts. Known for writing personally driven and female-empowerment themed compositions, Knowles has stated that having Jay-Z in her life has changed a few of her thoughts about how men and women relate to one another, which helped her transition from writing songs such as "Independent Women" and "Survivor" to man-tending anthems such as, "Cater 2 U" in which she sings about bringing him slippers and drawing his bath. Some of her songs are autobiographical, which she has admitted are taken from personal experiences, as well as her friends'. Knowles has also received co-producing credits for most of the records in which she has been involved, especially during her solo efforts. However, she does not formulate beats herself, but typically comes up with melodies and ideas during production, sharing them with producers. Knowles was recognized as a songwriter during the run of Destiny's Child in the 1990s and early to mid-2000s. She won the Pop Songwriter of the Year award at the 2001 American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Pop Music Awards, becoming the first African-American female and second female songwriter of all time to accomplish the feat. Knowles received three songwriting credits in a single year for co-writing "Irreplaceable", "Grillz" and "Check on It", the only woman to achieve since Carole King in 1971 and Mariah Carey in 1991. In terms of credits, she is tied with Diane Warren at third with nine number-one singles.
Knowles possesses a mezzo-soprano vocal range that spans more than three octaves. She has often been identified as the centerpiece of Destiny's Child. Jon Pareles of The New York Times commented that she has the voice that defines the group, writing that her voice is "velvety yet tart, with an insistent flutter and reserves of soul belting". Other critics praise her range and power. In reviewing her second album B'Day, Jody Rosen of Entertainment Weekly wrote "Beyoncé Knowles is a storm system disguised as a singer. On her second solo album, B'Day, the songs arrive in huge gusts of rhythm and emotion, with Beyoncé's voice rippling over clattery beats; you'd have to search far and wide—perhaps in the halls of the Metropolitan Opera — to find a vocalist who sings with more sheer force...No one—not R. Kelly, not Usher, to say nothing of her rival pop divas—can match Beyoncé's genius for dragging her vocal lines against a hip-hop beat." Chris Richards of The Washington Post wrote, "Even when she's coasting, she soars above her imitators. It's all in her voice—a superhuman instrument capable of punctuating any beat with goose-bump-inducing whispers or full-bore diva-roars. Smitten, scorned, amorous, antagonistic—Beyoncé sings from all of these vantage points with undeniable virtuosity." Cove magazine ranked Knowles seventh on their list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists", giving her 48 out of 50 points based on several criteria ranging from her vocal ability to range to harmony.
Knowles has often been criticized for oversinging. A prominent employer of melisma, she earns frequent comparison to such artists as Mariah Carey, whose vocal embellishments have been known to detract from the melody of their songs. Editors from Eye Weekly wrote, "There’s no question that Beyoncé is one of the best singers in pop, maybe one of the best alive...[However] as judicious as her singing can be, the effect in sum is still like being hit in the head with a fist in a velvet glove."
Stage and alter ego
In 2006, Knowles introduced her all-female tour band Suga Mama, which includes bassists, drummers, guitarists, horn players, keyboardists and percussionists. They made their début appearance at the 2006 BET Awards and re-appeared in the music videos for "Irreplaceable" and "Green Light". The band has supported Knowles in live performances, including her 2007 concert tour, The Beyoncé Experience, and her 2009 I Am... Tour. Renee Michelle Harris of the South Florida Times wrote, Knowles "owns the stage with her trademark swagger and intensity... showcasing her powerful vocals without missing a note, often while engaged in vigorous, perfectly executed dance moves...no one, not Britney, not Ciara and not Rihanna can offer what she does—a complete package of voice, moves and presence." Babara Ellen of The Guardian wrote, "whether charismatic and soulful, or teasing and flirty, Beyoncé is, above all, in charge. Probably the most "in charge" of any female artist I've seen onstage". In reviewing her I Am... Tour, Alice Jones of The Independent wrote, "Watching Beyoncé sing and strut her stuff can feel at best overawing, at worst, alienating. She takes her role as entertainer so seriously she's almost too good." Tamara Hardingham-Gill of the Daily Mail wrote, "many industry experts have been tipping Beyoncé as the next Michael Jackson. While it’s far too early for such comparisons, she certainly proved that she is one of the most exciting and talented performers around and may well go down in history as such".
"Dangerously in Love" (live)
Knowles has received widespread praise for her live vocal performances.
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Although Knowles has been criticized for lip-synching in some of her live performances, reviewers have praised her live vocal performances. In reviewing one of her performances, Jim Farber of The Daily News wrote "Beyoncé showed off pipes of steely power. As the song's signature horn riff pumped away, she soared over the melody with athletic ease. The way Beyoncé used her body intensified the sense of triumph. With her hair teased into Medusa-like tresses, a pelvis in perpetual churn and legs long enough to make Tina Turner proud, Beyoncé's presence punctuated her singing like an exclamation point." Stephanie Classen of the Star Phoenix declares "Beyoncé is no ordinary performer... from note one, the 27-year-old powerhouse rose above all the gimmicks, mastering the show like a sexy alien overlord princess. Nothing but extraterrestrial origins could explain that voice....[Beyoncé] could perform circles around any other pop star today." Editors from Newsday wrote, "she proves that hot choreography and strong vocals don't have to be mutually exclusive... No worries of lip-synching here."
Known for being sexy, seductive and provocative when performing on stage, Knowles has stated that's her alter ego, Sasha Fierce. She described Sasha as being "too aggressive, too strong, too sassy [and] too sexy", stating "I'm not like her in real life at all ... I'm not flirtatious and super-confident and fearless like her. What I feel onstage I don't feel anywhere else. It's an out-of-body experience. I created my stage persona to protect myself so that when I go home I don't have to think about what it is I do. Sasha isn't me. The people around me know who I really am." Although Sasha was born during the making of her 2003 hit single, "Crazy in Love", Knowles introduced her alter ego with the release of her third album, I Am... Sasha Fierce in 2008. In February 2010, Knowles announced in an interview with Allure magazine that "Sasha Fierce is done. I killed her". She then went on saying that she is comfortable enough with herself to be all of those things without an alias, stating "I don't need Sasha Fierce anymore, because I've grown and now I'm able to merge the two."