Friday, February 5, 2010

Beyonce sings herself into the record books

Beyonce wins for best female pop vocal performance for "Halo" at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles January 31, 2010. Photo/REUTERS

Beyonce wins for best female pop vocal performance for "Halo" at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles January 31, 2010. Photo/REUTERS 

By TIM KAMUZU BANDA

As she walked onto the podium to receive her sixth Grammy Award on Sunday, singer Beyonce Knowles was also walking in the record books. No female artiste in the world had ever bagged six awards on one Grammy night until Beyonce came along. Consequently, she has been dubbed the best female singer in the world this decade.

Even in winning the six accolades and end up in the record books, Beyonce was just breaking another of her record. She held the records of winning five awards in one night with five other singers in the Grammy Awards. This was considered the world’s greatest honour in music.

The album that has delivered the wins for Beyonce, 'I am …Sasha Fierce’, which, even before the nominations was touted a masterpiece by music critics, grabbed the best contemporary R&B album award. The single, Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), went on to win song of the year, best vocal performance and best R&B song. The other singles, At Last and Halo, were also winners.

Beyonce was born in Texas, US, in 1981. Attending a performing arts school gave her a firm foundation as a performing artiste. He star started rising as a child, as she excelled in singing and dancing competitions at a very early age.

Her father Mathew Knowles was a professional record manager, and together with the mother Tina, a stylist, he played a crucial role in getting their daughter to pursue music. Beyonce thrust to fame with her friends Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, Letoya Luckett and Michelle Williams, with whom she formed the group, Destiny’s Child.

However, it took them four years on the road as just another group before they were signed by Columbia Records in 1997. That very year, they recorded a single, Killing Time, for the film, Men in Black. The film, featuring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, went on to be a huge success, and so did the Destiny’s Child music career.

Their second album

Their second album, Writing on the Wall, which contained songs such as Bills, Bills and Say My Name, cemented their place as the top girls group in the US. However, internal wrangles saw two of the members drop, leaving only Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle by the time they were releasing their third album, Survivor.

Throughout their career, the group released four studio albums and achieved four US No. 1 singles. They had sold more than 50 million records worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling recording artistes in the US. American Billboard magazine ranks the group one of the greatest musical trios of all time, and inducted the group in 2008 into the All-Time Hot 100 Artistes.

By 2002, the trio were all working on solo projects, and this saw Beyonce record her first solo album, Dangerously in Love, in 2003. This outshone the other two. Notably, one of the songs, Crazy in Love, featured rapper Jay-Z with whom she went on to have an affair.

During Destiny’s Child’s turmoil in 2000, Knowles had admitted in December 2006 that she had experienced depression from an accumulation of struggles — the publicised split of LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson being publicly attacked by the media and critics and blogs for causing the split-up with longstanding boy-friend, Jay-Z, that she had dated from age 12 to 19.

In 2005, rumours began to spread about the couple’s marriage. Beyonce closed the speculation, stating that she and Jay-Z were not even engaged. However, on April 4, 2008, she and Jay-Z were married in New York City.

Beyonce finally revealed their marriage through an opening montage video at the listening party for I Am... Sasha Fierce in Manhattan’s Sony Club. I am…Sasha Fierce is her third solo album after Destiny’s Child’s break-up. The other, Dangerously in Love, became the most successful album in 2003. Another, B’ Day, also topped charts when it was released.

Beyonce has also found some fame on the screen, starting 2001 when she appeared in the musical film carmen, The Hip Opera. Her first lead role, however, came in 2006 in Dream Girls, which won her two Golden Globe nominations. The songbird has also spread her wings into business, running a family fashion line, House of Dereon.

Superstardom comes with endorsement, and Beyonce has had her fair share, including endorsing multinational brands such as Pepsi, L’Oreal, Armani and Tommy Hilfiger. In 2009, Forbes listed Beyonce 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 No. 1 on the list of top best paid celebs under 30 with more than $87 million (about Sh6.5 billion) in earnings between 2008 and 2009.

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