Beyonce Knowles

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At the tender age of 11, Beyoncé Knowles gave a detailed list of her goals, forever preserved on home video. Instead of the typical tween dreams, the talented youngster expressed loftier aims.

One day she wanted to make a gold album, record a platinum follow-up disc, and write and produce the third. So much for lifetime achievements the little girl, born on September 4, 1981, grew up to do all three before she reached 21.

She was born in Texas to Matthew Knowles, a former salesman, and his salon owner wife Tina.  Her unique name is a tribute to her mother's maiden name because Tina was afraid it would die out.

Their daughter didn't always seem destined for stardom. Her first project in the Eighties, Girls Tyme, went nowhere, and after a few other incarnations, the girl group became Destiny's Child.

Beyoncé was crushed when they lost US talent show Star Search in 1992, and were dropped by their record label in 1995, before they'd even released an album. Dad Matthew, who managed the group, was forced to sell the family home in 1996 to keep them going.

"People thought we were through," she says. Destiny's Child then signed with Columbia, however, delivering a million-selling debut disc in 1997. When a second hit album followed, Beyonce's star continued to rise.

Though the spotlight on the 5ft 6in singer was said to be causing tension in the group, the trio's members see it differently. "Beyoncé has truly been an inspiration," says bandmate Michelle Williams. When Beyonce won the 2001 ASCAP Pop Songwriter Of The Year Award, she became the first African-American woman - and the second woman ever - to receive that honour. She launched her long-awaited solo album Dangerously In Love in 2003 to rave reviews.

The bootylicious diva has also inspired young girls with everything from her vocal style to her hair. Her sultry hourglass figure was often shown off in barely-there designs, an imaged which didn't  feel was at odds with her religious upbringing. "I think you can be a sexy woman," she declared, "and still love God."

Awkward and shy growing up, Beyoncé used to get teased about her ears, she says, because "they were bigger than my head". Even when the former "chubby kid" was regarded as one of the world's sexiest women, she still saw flaws.

"Every day I find something wrong," she said. "I have many insecurities. They keep you humble."
 
Studio execs were calling her "the next Diana Ross", and she won over the director of her big screen debut. "She could keep up with Mike and make him laugh," said Jay Roach, director of Mike Myers' Goldmember. "I thought, 'Man, she's gonna be a huge star'."

Studio bosses had noticed Beyoncé after her first film project, the MTV hip hop production of Carmen. And on the set of Goldmember she proved she's quite a charmer in person as well.

"Everybody fell in love with her," says the star of the flick Mike. "On her last day, everyone was sad to see her go because she's so nice and funny and silly… and 'bootylicious'."

Several film roles followed, including the lead part in Oscar-winning film Dreamgirls, and a critically acclaimed turn as Etta James in micic bio-pic Cadillac Records. She also tried her hand at serious drama, as the wife of a man who is stalked in 2009 flick Obsessed.

For many years, Beyoncé did her best to keep her private life out of the headlines. In 2002, she quietly begun dating hip hop star Jay Z. Six years later, the couple discreetly tied the knot on April 22, 2008, though neither party spoke about the marriage in public. She finally debuted her wedding ring five months later.

The union cemented their status as the king and queen of music. Both cabinets full of trophies - Beyoncé has 17 Grammys, while her husband has 19. In 2014, the singer was named the world's most powerful celebrity, with Jay coming in fifth.

However, the star is adamant that their relationship is about so much more than a brand. "What Jay and I have is real. It"s not about interviews or getting the right photo op. It"s real," she said, finally opening up about her marriage.

On January 7, 2012 the couple became parents when Queen Bey gave birth to their little princess Blue Ivy Carter.
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