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Beyoncé: A Life in Pictures

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Grammy-winning singer, Hollywood starlet, fashion designer and mother Beyoncé is a performer that certainly looms large on the cultural landscape. To celebrate Queen Bey, join Stylist in looking back at her phenomenal career...

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Words by Dipal Acharya, Lauren Smith and Sharon Forrester

Picture credit: Rex Features and Getty Images

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé Giselle Knowles was born on 4 September 1981 in Houston, Texas. Daughter of Matthew and Tina Knowles, was the couple’s first child and was christened after her mother’s maiden name (Beyincé).

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    From a young age, Beyoncé showed an aptitude for dancing and singing. Her parents nurtured her talent by enrolling her in a variety of dance classes – including ballet, tap and jazz – as well as encouraging her to sing in her local church choir.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    In 1990, Beyoncé answered a casting call for singers for a young girl-group, becoming part of the band Girl’s Tyme. Although the group regularly performed local gigs in Houston, they were hungry to sign a record deal. Beyoncé’s father quit his day-job in 1993 to manage the band full-time.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    After four years of work, the risk paid off. The band renamed themselves Destiny’s Child (after a passage in the Book of Isaiah) and landed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1997. Marketed as a young sexy R’n’B group, the band released their debut single No, No, No, followed by their eponymous album Destiny's Child which spent six weeks on top of the US Billboard chart and sold three million copies worldwide.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    At the end of 1999, however, cracks began to form with the band's management team and former members LaTavia Roberson and LaToya Luckett were soon replaced by two new faces - Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. On the band's split and reformation, Beyoncé said, "It was definitely difficult because I was so young [...] and the group was like family."

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    The line-up was not permanent though - by August 2000, Farrah Franklin had left the group, despite somewhat confusingly appearing in the music video for Say My Name, the standout single from the band's second album The Writing's On The Wall.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Despite increased scrutiny of the constantly reshuffling line-up, Destiny's Child silenced their critics with the release of their third album - the aptly named Survivor. The album included chart-topping hits such as Bootylicious, a cover of the BeeGees' Emotion and Independent Women (which featured on the Charlie's Angels movie soundtrack).

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    The hard work soon paid off as the band were awarded five Grammies off the back of the Survivor album. It also marked a watershed for Beyoncé personally, as she faced a private battle with depression in the wake of the band's split and reformation.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    The trio soon decided to take a well earned break following their chart and award success. In 2002, Beyoncé expanded her CV into the world of cinema, when she played the role of Foxxy Brown in Austin Powers in Goldmember.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    In 2002, Beyoncé was also approached to collaborate with rapper Jay-Z on the single 03 Bonnie and Clyde. It would be the start of a lasting professional and private relationship, with the pair going to co-produce tracks on Beyoncé's rumoured first solo album.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Riding the wave of a successful year in music and film, Beyoncé also found time to star opposite oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. in The Fighting Temptations. Although the film, billed as a musical drama, received mixed reviews, Gooding Jr. said that he particularly enjoyed his romantic scenes with Knowles.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé finally released her eagerly anticipated first solo album, Dangerously in Love, in June 2003. With the singer's signature mix of ballads and urban anthems, the record eventually went on be certified as four-times platinum.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Soon after, in July 2003, Beyoncé became the first female artist to top album and singles charts - for the track Crazy in Love simultaneously in the USA and United Kingdom. The record would also earn the singer five Grammies the following year.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    With an increased presence on the red carpet, it was only a matter of time before the singer became a fashion icon, pictured here with Mariah Carey and Donatella Versace at Milan Fashion Week in October 2003.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    In 2003, Beyoncé was approached to host an hour-long documentary celebrating Nelson Mandela's 85th birthday. The documentary - entitled Staying Alive - gave Beyoncé the opportunity to meet one of her icons, pictured here with the leader in November 2003, describing him as "one of the most important men in history".

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Despite a blossoming solo career - pictured here picking up a Brit award for 'Best International Female Artist - Beyoncé rejoined Destiny's Child in 2004 to produce their fourth and final album, Destiny Fulfilled. The album went on to sell over three million copies and was swiftly followed by a world tour.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé did not neglect her passion for acting, however, starring in a remake of The Pink Panther franchise alongside comedian Steve Martin and Emily Mortimer. The film would go on to be the highest grossing film in newly-made film series.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    It was for her role in the 2006 drama Dreamgirls that Beyoncé finally earned critical recognition for her acting skills. Loosely based on the history of Diana Ross and The Supremes and co-starring Jennifer Hudson, the film went on to win three Golden Globes and two Oscars.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    The singer followed up on her solo music career with her second studio album, B'Day. Beyoncé deliberately postponed the release of the album, vowing not to work on it until she had finished filming Dreamgirls.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    By the time it was delivered, Beyoncé had co-written and co-produced all the tracks, including the smash-hits Deja Vu, Upgrade U and Irreplaceable. The album went on to sell 3.2 million copies and become platinum fourteen times worldwide.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    As the consummate professional, Beyoncé kept a strict tabs on details of her private life. Having dated Jay-Z for close to six years, however, rumours soon surfaced that the couple had married in a secret New York ceremony in April 2008. Although no photographs were leaked from the ceremony, Beyoncé gave fans a peek at her wedding dress in the video for her song I Was Here three years later.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    In the same year, Beyoncé released her critically acclaimed I Am ... Sasha Fierce album. Based around Beyoncé's fictional alter ego, the singer described Sasha Fierce as "the fun, more sensual, more aggressive, more outspoken side and more glamorous side that comes out when I'm working."

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Her risqué outfits and co-ordinated dance routines soon became hallmarks of the album, with one of it's most famous tracks - Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - becoming one of the most parodied tracks of the year. Here Justin Timberlake is pictured in a Beyoncé-inspired spoof for Saturday Night Live.

  • BBeyoncé: a life in pictures

    In 2008, Beyoncé joined the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Oprah Winfrey when she endorsed Barack Obama in his bid to become President of the United States.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Her support was duly recognised when Obama requested for Beyoncé to sing at both his inauguration ceremony and inauguration ball. For the latter, Beyoncé chose Etta James' classic song At Last, giving a moving rendition that eventually racked up over 8 million hit on YouTube.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    In 2010, Beyoncé well and truly cemented her status as global icon. From her perfume and fashion-lines - pictured here at the launch of Heat at Macy's New York - to her multi-grammy wins, she deservedly came in at number 19 on Time magazine's 100 list, describing her as "the star by which all others are judged."

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Despite keeping her personal life as private as possible, Beyoncé's close relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow and her family continued to dominate headlines - with the pair photographed here at the Costume Institute Gala in New York in May.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    In July of the same year, Beyoncé delighted fans as the closing act for Glastonbury 2011. Despite the controversy surrounding the star's suitability for the annual festival, Beyoncé delivered what would go down as one of her most memorable sets to date.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Wearing a tangerine-coloured Lanvin gown, Beyoncé dealt yet another surprise to her fans in August, announcing at the MTV Video Music Awards that she was expecting her first child with husband Jay-Z. The shock news eventually ended up breaking the Twitter records for greatest number of tweets per second.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé, the consummate professional, showed that despite being pregnant she had no intention of slowing down. Following the announcement, the star has launched her clothing label, the House of Deréon, in the United Kingdom - as well as shooting three new music videos for her current album, 4.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    On the 7th January 2012, Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z welcomed their first child - a baby girl named Blue Ivy Carter - in to the world. Delivered by a caesarean section at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, the singer's close friend Gwyneth Paltrow confirmed the baby's name as Blue Ivy Carter on twitter. The couple confirmed it as "the best experience of both of our lives".

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Just days after his wife gave birth, Jay Z released a song called Glory dedicated to Blue Ivy Carter. On the track, Jay Z raps "my greatest creation was you", with the sound of baby cries in the background.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé was back in shape after her baby in no time - and donned a Givenchy dress to the Costume Institute Gala in May.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    On April 5, day after her four year wedding anniversary to Jay Z, Bey launched her own Tumblr http://iam.beyonce.com/ offering fans an intimate glimpse into her life with Jay Z and their new baby. She wrote "I Am… This is my life, today, over the years - through my eyes. My family, my travels, my love. This is where I share with you, This will continue to grow as I do. Love Beyonce".

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé filmed an on-stage performance of song I Was Here at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations for World Humanitarian Day, 19 August, to shine a spotlight on humanitarian work and encourage people around the world to get involved by doing something good for others.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé sang a rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner during President Obama's inauguration ceremony on January 21 2013. Unfortunately for the star, her performance courted controversy when it was later revealed that she had lip-synched to a pre-recorded track. Speaking about the incident at a press conference, Beyoncé said: "Due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk [...] I decided to sing along with my pre-recorded track, which is very common in the music industry. And I'm very proud of my performance."

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    In February 2013 Beyoncé wowed audiences - and silenced critics - with an amazing half-time performance during the Super Bowl in New Orleans. During the 14-minute medley of her greatest hits, Bey was joined by her Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Bey scooped her 17th Grammy award in February 2013, which she picked up in the Best Traditional R&B Performance category for Love On Top.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé followed up her Super Bowl performance with the release of her self-directed confessional documentary, Beyoncé: Life Is But A Dream, first broadcast in the US by HBO then in the UK on BBC 1.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Beyoncé and Jay-Z caused a furore when they decided to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary with a trip to Cuba: American residents are usually required to have a government-granted license to visit the country unless for academic, religious or cultural exchanges.

  • Beyoncé: a life in pictures

    Following an announcement in February, Beyoncé kicked off her fourth world tour, entitled The Mrs Carter Show, in Belgrade, Serbia.