Before she paid the “Bills, Bills, Bills,” fell “Crazy In Love,” and put a ring on it, Beyoncé Knowles was an aspiring singer stuck in Houston, Texas.
Now married to music mogul Jay Z, Beyoncé is the third-most honored woman in Grammy Award history — claiming 17 wins — and a global symbol for female empowerment.
Her chart-topping solo singles include “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”, “Halo,” “If I Were A Boy,” “Irreplaceable,” “Naughty Girl,” and “Crazy In Love.”
In honour of the original Independent Woman’s 32nd birthday, get to know Beyoncé as the daughter, wife, mother, superstar, businesswoman, and free spirit that defined a generation of R&B and pop.
Born September 4, 1981, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles grew up in a wealthy suburb outside Houston. She calls her childhood home 'my foundation.'
Every year, her parents treated their daughters with a visit to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 'It was like the biggest family picnic,' she said. 'We'd eat fried Snickers.'
Her mother Tina owned a hair salon, Headliners, where Beyoncé swept hair off the floor and sang 'for tips to pay for my season pass to Six Flags,' said the roller-coaster fanatic.
Tina said a five-year age difference between Beyoncé and Solange didn't stop the sisters from putting on shows together and charging admission. 'They have always been very protective of each other and very close,' she said.
In the early '90s, she formed the group Gyrls Tyme with future Destiny's Child members LeToya Luckett, LaTavia Roberson, and cousin Kelly Rowland, among others.
They peaked on the talent show circuit in 1992, with a performance on the nationally televised game show 'Star Search.'
Beyoncé's father Mathew left his six-figure sales job at Xerox to manage the girls full time. He successfully negotiated a deal for them with Columbia Records in 1997.
Destiny's Child made their record debut with the song 'Killing Time' on the 'Men in Black' soundtrack, and sold over one million copies of their self-titled album in 1997.
Between 1997 and 2005 -- and after undergoing several member shifts -- Destiny's Child reigned as the world's top-selling female vocal group, achieving combined sales of more than 60 million records.
The ''ndependent Woman' embarked on a solo career in 2003, releasing her first album 'Dangerously in Love' and picking up five Grammy Awards.
Beyoncé began dating hip-hop mogul Jay-Z at age 20. The couple lit up the stage performing 'Crazy in Love' at the MTV Video Music Awards.
She launched an acting career, appearing alongside Mike Meyers in 'Austin Powers in Goldmember,' Steve Martin in 'Pink Panther,' and Jennifer Hudson and Jamie Foxx in 'Dreamgirls.'
Her second studio album 'B'Day' featured hits 'Irreplaceable,' 'Déjá Vu,' and 'Beautiful Liar.' The album dropped on her birthday.
In 2008, Jay Z put a ring on it in an ultra-private wedding ceremony, surrounded by 40 close friends and family members in Hov's New York City penthouse.
The couple tattooed the Roman numeral IV on their left-hand ring fingers. Beyoncé's birthday is September 4, Jay Z's is December 4, and the couple were married on April 4.
Mrs. Carter released the epic girl-power anthem 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),' off her third consecutive number-one album, 'I am… Sasha Fierce.'
During her 2009 I AM…World Tour, she planned 'tour field trips' for the band and crew: 'Egypt was the best. When I visited the pyramids, I started singing 'Ave Maria' inside. I've never heard acoustics so clear.'
Beyoncé and Jay Z suffered a miscarriage around this time. She described hearing her first child's heartbeat as 'the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life.'
Beyoncé always felt destined to be a mum, and is very close with her nephew Julez. She took him on a trip to France because he speaks the language fluently, and babysits on the weekends.
She kept a video diary on her MacBook to 'figure out life': 'Thank god for my computer. Sometimes when there's no one to talk to, I talk out loud so I can get all of my thoughts out.'
After 15 years of being managed by dad Mathew, Beyoncé decided to take the business reigns: 'I needed boundaries, and I think my dad needed boundaries.'
After the split, she spent nine months travelling the world and writing her first magazine cover story for Essence.
The career hiatus reignited her creativity, and the fourth studio album '4' spawned the diverse singles 'Run the World (Girls),' 'Best Thing I Never Had,' 'Love On Top,' and 'Party.'
In January 2012, Beyoncé and Jay Z welcomed baby girl Blue Ivy, theoretically named for dad's 'Blueprint' album trilogy and the couple's obsession with the number four.
'(Having a daughter) just gives you purpose,' Beyoncé said. 'I realised why I was born and more than anything, all of the things I want to pass onto my child. The best way of doing that is not by preaching or telling her, but showing her by example.'
In February, Beyoncé's HBO special, 'Life Is but a Dream' drew 1.8 million viewers, making it the largest audience for an HBO documentary since Spike Lee's piece in 2006.
Beyoncé hopes to further her acting career before settling into full-time motherhood: 'I don't think it is possible, (but) I would love to have an Oscar. That is the most ambitious thing -- I have time for that.'
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