Beyoncé Giselle Knowles (born September 4, 1981), best known mononymously as Beyoncé (pronounced /biːˈɒnseɪ/), is an American R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, choreographer, video director, actress and model. 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 girl group Destiny's Child. Knowles has sold more than 50 million records worldwide with the group and over 75 million records in her total career.
In June 2003, during the hiatus of Destiny's Child, Knowles released her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, which became one of the most successful albums of that year, and signaled her viability as a solo artist. The album was a commercial and critical success, spawning the hits "Crazy in Love", "Baby Boy", and earning Knowles five Grammy Awards in 2004. The disbanding of Destiny's Child in 2005 facilitated her continued success: her sophomore solo album, B'Day, released in 2006, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, and produced the hits "Deja Vu", "Irreplaceable", and "Beautiful Liar". Her third solo album, I Am… Sasha Fierce, was released in November 2008, and included the hits "If I Were a Boy", "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", "Halo" and "Sweet Dreams". Knowles has attained five Hot 100 number one singles, becoming one of the two female artists with the most number ones attained within the 2000-2009 decade. She is also the female artist with the most cumulative weeks at number one this decade, with 37 total weeks at number one, the most top fives and the most top ten hits this decade with twelve, as well as the most top 40 hits of the decade with 17 top 40 hits.
The success of her solo albums has established Knowles as one of the most marketable artists in the music industry, and she has expanded her career to acting and product endorsement. She began her acting career in 2001, appearing in the musical film Carmen: A Hip Hopera. In 2006, she starred in the lead role in the film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls, for which she earned two Golden Globe nominations. Knowles launched her family's fashion line, House of Deréon, in 2004, and has been engaged to endorse such brands as Pepsi, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and L'Oréal. In 2009, Forbes listed Knowles fourth on its list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential Celebrities in the world, third on its list of the top-grossing musicians, and number one on the list of top Best-Paid Celebs Under 30 with over $87 million dollars in earnings between 2008 and 2009
Knowles has become known as a sex symbol. According to her, "I like to dress sexy and I carry myself like a lady," but she has said that the way she dresses on stage is "absolutely for the stage". As someone who is fond of fashion, Knowles combines its artistic elements with her music videos and performances. According to Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli, she uses different styles and tries to harmonize it with the music while performing. The B'Day Anthology showed many instances of fashion-oriented footage, depicting classic to contemporary wardrobe styles. People magazine recognized Knowles as the best-dressed celebrity in 2007. Knowles' mother wrote a 2002-published book, titled Destiny's Style: Bootylicious Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Secrets From Destiny's Child, an account of how fashion had an impact on Destiny's Child's success.
As one of the most media-exposed black artists in the United States, Knowles has often received criticism that some believe is due to racism and sexism. A fan of hers points out, "[Knowles] portrays herself as a sex symbol rather than an artist." Toure of the Rolling Stone stated that since the release of Dangerously in Love, "[Beyoncé] has become a crossover sex symbol a la Halle Berry ..." Her appearance in Vanity Fair magazine has also provoked speculations that her skin tone was digitally altered.
In 2007, Knowles was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, the first non-model and non-athlete woman to pose on the issue and the second African American model after Tyra Banks. In the same year, Knowles appeared on billboards and newspapers across the United States showing her holding an antiquated cigarette holder. Taken from the back cover of B'Day, the image provoked response from an anti-smoking group, stating that she did not need to add the cigarette holder "to make herself appear more sophisticated".
On April 24, 2009 Knowles appeared on Larry King Live where she gave herself a more political image talking about everything from singing at President Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009 to racism that she has faced as being an African-American. She said that Michelle Obama is "so chic" and even stated that her performance of "At Last" was the highlight of her career.