Beyoncé is, without a question, a once-in-a-generation talent. Blessed with a wonderful singing voice, incredible athleticism, striking beauty and, most importantly, an unrivaled competitive spirit, she has established herself as a star of both stage and screen. In honor of her 30th birthday today, we decided to take a look back at the thirty most important moments in Beyoncé’s life that made her the person she is today. Enjoy!
DATE: September 4, 1981
EVENT: Thirty years ago today, Houston resident and aspiring music manager Matthew Knowles and his costume designer wife Tina welcomed a bouncing baby girl into the world, one they named Beyoncé Giselle Knowles. If this had never happened, well, you wouldn’t be reading this list, that’s for sure!
EVENT: At the tender age of 7, Beyoncé competed in her very first talent show. She sang a stirring rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which earned her a standing ovation, a first place prize, and the seething jealousy of the 15- and 16-year-olds she competed against.
EVENT: Gaining confidence after her talent show victory, Beyoncé and five other girls were recruited to join a Houston-based group called Girl’s Tyme. It was during this time that she met her future Destiny’s Child group members Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, and LeToya Luckett (who joined in 1993). After gaining local acclaim, things turned sour after the group unsuccessfully tried out for Star Search. This would mark the first of many times that personality clashes would lead to fractures in Beyoncé’s personal and professional life.
EVENT: After the Star Search incident, Girl’s Tyme changed their focus significantly. Instead of positioning themselves as a rap/dance act, they focused on singing and cut the number of girls in their troupe from six to four. Matthew Knowles quit his job as a Xerox sales executive, which put significant strain on his family both personally and financially. However, things were looking up; after performing as a local opening act for R&B stars like SWV and Dru Hill, the group got signed to Elektra Records under the name Destiny.
EVENT: Beyoncé suffered another professional setback when, after just a few months, the group was dropped by Elektra. She and LaTavia cut a video for a song called “One Time,” but it wasn’t enough to convince the label executives that the group had a future. This event had repurcussions in the Knowles home, too; it led to the brief separation of Matthew and Tina.
EVENT: Taking a cue from the Book of Isaiah (at least, according to Wikipedia; we scouted through the Book of Isaiah and couldn’t find the mention ourselves, but we’re not exactly Bible scholars…), the group rebranded themselves as Destiny’s Child. Grammatical issues aside—after all, shouldn’t they technically have been called Destiny’s Children???—the name turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the group landed themselves a deal with Columbia Records. It didn’t take long for this new relationship to bear fruit; their self-recorded single “Killing Time” found its way onto the Men In Black soundtrack, which sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. alone.
DATE: November 11, 1997
EVENT: As a means of testing the commercial waters with their latest roster addition, Columbia released Destiny Child’s first single, “No No No.” The group’s sound (and, no doubt, their looks) caught the eye of Wyclef Jean, who was riding high in the music industry at the time in both critical and commercial circles. By contributing a remix and a few toss-on verses to “No No No (Part 2),” he more or less gave the group his seal of approval, which sprung the group into the mainstream. The song hit #1 on the Billboard R&B Charts, and would make it all the way to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The table was now set for big things to happen…
DATE: February 17, 1998
EVENT: Despite the heat of “No No No,” Destiny’s Child debut album entered the Billboard charts at a disappointing #67. The album would eventually sell over one million units, but Beyoncé told the Guardian in 2006 that she thought the record was a bit of a disappointment. “[Our debut album] was a neo-soul record and we were 15 years old. It was way too mature for us.”
DATE: July 20, 1999
EVENT: After learning their lesson with their debut album, the group decided to take a more fun approach to music with their second album. The lead single, “Bills Bills Bills,” hit huge (Interesting side note: It was written by future Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss); after being released on June 15, the song became their first-ever #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and set the table for what would happen just one week later…
DATE: July 27, 1999
EVENT: Destiny’s Child’s second full length, The Writing’s On The Wall, hit stores. It debuted in the Billboard Top Ten and sold a respectable 163,000 copies, but the real story was how the LP continued to sell and sell and sell throughout the year and well into 2000. Bolstered by the success of singles “Jumpin Jumpin” and “Say My Name,” the album would eventually sell over 13 million copies worldwide. Despite surface appearances, all was not well in the world of Destiny’s Child…
DATE: December 1999
EVENT: Feeling that their manager Matthew Knowles was freezing them out of profits, Destiny’s Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson attempted to secure themselves new management. Bad idea jeans! When the video for “Say My Name” debuted two months later in February of 2000, the two were SHOCKED to discover that they had been replaced by gospel singer Michelle Williams and aspiring actress/singer Farrah Franklin, an annoucement that Beyoncé made live on TRL. A lawsuit was eventually raised, and the two received an out-of-court monetary settlement to resolve the matter. Beyoncé managed to escape the incident relatively unscathed, reputation-wise, but it helped firm her position as a performer whose ambition to succeed knew no bounds.
DATE: July 2000
EVENT: While out on tour as Christina Aguilera’s opening act, Farrah Franklin is dumped from the group after just five months. In stark contrast to the issue with Roberson and Luckett, Beyoncé had no issues speaking out in public against Franklin. “Destiny’s Child is going to be fine,” she told MTV. “We’ve done three or four shows already without Farrah and they’ve been phenomenal.” Lesson learned? Don’t cross Beyoncé!
DATE: Summer 2000
EVENT: Beyoncé often catches flack for being a robotic performer, but all of the Destiny’s Child drama really weighed on her. She told Access Hollywood in 2006 that she went into a deep depression around this time, not just because of the axings within her group, but also because she split with the boyfriend she had been dating since age 13. She describes this as her “lonely period,” but being the driven person that she is, she would not let it effect her career.
DATE: September 14, 2000
EVENT: Destiny’s Child already had a number of successful singles under their belt at this point, but when “Independent Women (Part One” was released in September of 2000, they straight BLEW UP. The song was attached to the very popular Charlie’s Angels reboot, and thanks to killer hooks, great production and a big budget video, is became the most successful single of Destiny’s Child’s career. It spent eleven consecutive weeks (!) at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 between November 2000 and February 2001, and solidified Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams as one of the most successful female groups of all-time.
DATE: February 21, 2001
EVENT: At the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards, the overwhelming commercial success of Destiny’s Child was rewarded when the group won their first ever Grammy. “Say My Name” bested their mentor Wyclef Jean’s duet with Mary J. Blige, “911,” and took home the Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
DATE: May 1, 2001
EVENT: If this was, indeed, Beyoncé’s “lonely period,” you wouldn’t know it by looking back at the history books. Destiny’s Child released their third studio album, “Survivor,” on the first day of May and it was an unequivocal smash right out of the gate. It sold 663,000 copies during its first week of release and debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. In addition to “Independent Women (Part One)”, follow-up singles “Bootylicious” and “Survivor” also became chart toppers. While this period will be looked back on by people like us as the highwater mark for Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé’s star was only just beginning to rise…
DATE: May 8, 2001
EVENT: While it just so happened that Beyoncé made her name as a “singer,” with the benefit of hindsight, it seems pretty obvs that her goal was always to become something more than that: She wanted to be a “star.” The first public evidence of this was her appearance in the MTV made-for-TV movie, Carmen: A Hip Hopera. While it would later become clear that Beyoncé’s talents were better suited for music than movies, the exposure she got here would go on to land her an even bigger role just a year later.
DATE: July 26, 2002
EVENT: After touring the world with Destiny’s Child and taking home another fistful of Grammys, Beyoncé set her sights on conquering Hollywood. She scored the lead female role in the third Austin Powers movie, Goldmember, and recorded the first solo song of her career for the soundtrack, “Work It Out.” The film was a huge success, earning some $300 million worldwide, but Beyoncé started receiving some of the first negative reviews of her life for her wooden performance as Foxxy Cleopatra. Would she let that get her down? If you answered “yes,” you obviously haven’t been paying attention up to this point.
DATE: October 10, 2002
EVENT: Beyoné had managed to keep her love life out of the tabloids up to this point, but that soon changed when she guested on hip hop megastar Jay-Z‘s single, “’03 Bonnie And Clyde.” The song would be the first of many artistic collaborations with the man that would one day become her husband. (It wasn’t until 2006ish, though, that the two acknowledged the rumors that they were an item.)
DATE: December 18, 2002
EVENT: After you’ve conquered radio and the silver screen, the next logical step is to cash in on her fame. Beyoncé did exactly that when she signed an endorsement deal with Pepsi. She appeared alongside Britney Spears, Pink and Enrique Igleasias in a big budget Gladiator knock-off that would go on to be a Super Bowl commercial and earn Queen Bey millions and millions of dollars.
DATE: May 20, 2003
EVENT: Believe it or not, there was a period of time where people questioned whether Beyoncé had what it took to star as a solo artist outside of Destiny’s Child! Kelly Rowland scored a #1 hit in June of 2002 with Nelly, while Beyoncé’s debut album as a solo artist saw its release date continually pushed back by her label. However, when the retro-funk stomper “Crazy In Love” hit radio in May of 2003, all those initial doubts were erased. It was, without a doubt, that year’s Song Of The Summer, it collected a boatload of trophies, and solidified the artistic partnership between Bey and Jay.
DATE: February 8, 2004
EVENT: Beyoncé and Prince opened the 46th Annual Grammy Awards with a searing performance that many consider to be one of the best in that show’s long and proud history. Beyoncé would end up taking home five Grammys that night, some for her single “Crazy In Love,” and others for her debut solo album, Dangerously In Love.
DATE: November 15, 2005
EVENT: Beyoncé had gone through an amicable breakup with her other members of Destiny’s Child earlier in the year. The quality of Destiny Fulfilled, the group’s last album, was spotty; some of that might be due to the fact that Bey was instead concentrating on expanding her empire. Along with her mom Tina, she launched her own fashion line, House of Deréon, in November of 2005 on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Although it’s never been perceived as a huge artistic success in the fashion world, it’s definitely a cash cow for the Knowles family; in 2009 alone, the House of Dereon added nearly $90 million to Bey’s pocketbook.
DATE: September 5, 2006
EVENT: Bey’s second solo album, B’Day, came out the day after her 25th birthday. After the album’s first two singles, “Deja Vu” and “Ring The Alarm,” failed to catch fire, her soaring ballad “Irreplaceable” (penned by Ne-Yo) demonstrated that Bey had staying power. “Irreplaceable” would go on to spend ten consecutive weeks at #1, eclipsing the success of “Crazy In Love.”
DATE: December 15, 2006
EVENT: It’s not quite the “final” nail in Beyoncé’s acting career, but her appearance in Dreamgirls proved once and for all that acting is not exactly her forte. Her performance wasn’t exactly savaged by critics, but she was outshone by lower-billed American Idol reject Jennifer Hudson, who went on to win an Oscar for her work.
DATE: April 4, 2008
EVENT: Beyoncé and Jay-Z had been publicly outed as a couple in 2006, but rumors continued to swirl about their relationship. However, the two tied the knot in an intimate, lavish (and, for months, totally secret and publicly unacknowledged) ceremony in New York City. Attendees included Bey’s close friends Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams and, for some reason, Gwyneth Paltrow.
DATE: November 15, 2008
EVENT: I Am … Sasha Fierce, an ambitious double album, was released on November 14, 2008. In order to promote the LP, Beyoncé appeared on Saturday Night Live as a musical performer and sang her new single, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).” In one of the most memorable sketches in that show’s history, Beyonce parodied her incredible video for the song alongside a leotard-clad Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg and Bobby Moynihan.
DATE: September 13, 2009
EVENT: Beyoncé was indirectly involved in one of the most controversial events in VMA history. While Taylor Swift was accepting an award for Best Female Video of the year, an inebriated Kanye West burst on stage and interrupted her speech, complaining that Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video was one of the “best all-time.” Bey looked shocked and stunned in the moment, but later proved herself to be a class act when, at the tail end of the show, she invited Taylor Swift on stage after winning Video Of The Year for “Single Ladies” to finish her speech.
DATE: March 28, 2011
EVENT: In a sad turn of events, Beyoncé was forced to fire her father Matthew Knowles as her manager, after a number of financial improprieties were revealed to have occurred under his watch. Since Bey tends to keep her private life private, we don’t imagine that tons of details will emerge about what ultimately went down, but for Bey to split w/her pops, we can only assume that whatever happened must’ve been serious.
DATE: August 28, 2011
EVENT: By all accounts, Beyoncé was having a rough summer up to this point. Her fourth solo album, 4, was the subject of some very public gossip regarding its quality and recording process, and ultimately went on to stiff on the charts (at least in comparison to her other efforts). However, like she has managed to do throughout the course of her life when controversy reared its head, she figured out a way to come out on top. At the conclusion of her knockout performance of “Love On Top,” she opened up her jacket, suggestively rubbed her belly and burst out with the biggest smile we’ve ever seen. Yep, the rumors were true: She’s pregnant!