Influential Black Leaders - Beyoncé
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter (/biːˈjɒnseɪ/ bee-YON-say; née Knowles; born September 4, 1981)is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actress and filmmaker. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child. She rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of Destiny's Child, one of the best-selling girl groups of all time.
During Destiny's Child's hiatus, Beyoncé made her theatrical film debut with a role in the US box-office number-one Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) and began her solo music career. She became the first music act to debut at number one with their first six solo studio albums on the Billboard 200. Her debut album Dangerously in Love (2003) featured four Billboard Hot 100 top five songs, including the number-one singles "Crazy in Love" featuring rapper Jay-Z and "Baby Boy" featuring singer-rapper Sean Paul. Following the disbandment of Destiny's Child in 2006, she released her second solo album, B'Day, which contained her first US number-one solo single "Irreplaceable", and "Beautiful Liar", which topped the charts in most countries. Beyoncé continued her acting career with starring roles in The Pink Panther (2006), Dreamgirls (2006), and Obsessed (2009). Her marriage to Jay-Z and her portrayal of Etta James in Cadillac Records (2008) influenced her third album, I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008), which earned a record-setting six Grammy Awards in 2010. It spawned the UK number-one single "If I Were a Boy", the US number-one single "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and the top five single "Halo".
After splitting from her manager and father Mathew Knowles in 2010, Beyoncé released the album 4 (2011); it was influenced by 1970s funk, 1980s pop, and 1990s soul. She achieved back-to-back widespread critical acclaim for her sonically experimental visual albums, Beyoncé (2013) and Lemonade (2016); the latter was the world's best-selling album of 2016 and the most acclaimed album of her career, exploring themes of infidelity and womanism. In 2018, she released Everything Is Love, a collaborative album with her husband, Jay-Z, as the Carters. As a featured artist, Beyoncé topped the Billboard Hot 100 with the remixes of "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran in 2017 and "Savage" by Megan Thee Stallion in 2020. The same year, she made her directorial and screenwriting debut with the musical film and visual album Black Is King, which received widespread critical acclaim after premiering on Disney+.
Beyoncé is one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 100 million records worldwide. Her success during the 2000s was recognized with the Recording Industry Association of America's Top Certified Artist of the Decade, as well as Billboard magazine's Top Radio Songs Artist and the Top Female Artist of the Decade. Beyoncé is the most nominated woman in the Grammy Award's history and has the 2nd most wins for a woman with a total of 24 She is also the most awarded artist at the MTV Video Music Awards, with 24 wins, including the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. In 2014, she became the highest-earning black musician in history and was listed among Time's 100 most influential people in the world for a second year in a row. Forbes ranked her as the most powerful female in entertainment on their 2015 and 2017 lists. She occupied the sixth place for Time's Person of the Year in 2016, and in 2020, was named one of the 100 women who defined the last century by the same publication. Beyoncé was also included on Encyclopædia Britannica's 100 Women list in 2019, for her contributions to the entertainment industry.
Songwriting credits and controversy
Beyoncé has received co-writing credits for most of the songs recorded with Destiny's Child and nearly all the original songs she has recorded solo, but no sole writing credit. Her early songs were personally driven and female-empowerment themed compositions like "Independent Women" and "Survivor", but after the start of her relationship with Jay-Z, she transitioned to more man-tending anthems such as "Cater 2 U". Beyoncé also received co-producing credits for Dangerously in Love, although she did not formulate beats herself and instead came up with melodies and ideas during production, sharing them with producers.
In 2001, she became the first black woman and second female lyricist to win the Pop Songwriter of the Year award at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards. Beyoncé was the third woman to have writing credits on three number-one songs ("Irreplaceable", "Grillz" and "Check on It") in the same year, after Carole King in 1971 and Mariah Carey in 1991. She is tied with American lyricist Diane Warren at third with nine song-writing credits on number-one singles. (The latter wrote her 9/11-motivated song "I Was Here" for 4.) In May 2011, Billboard magazine listed Beyoncé at number 17 on their list of the Top 20 Hot 100 Songwriters, for having co-written eight singles that hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She was one of only three women on that list, along with Alicia Keys and Taylor Swift.
Beyoncé has long received criticism, including from journalists and musicians, for the extensive writing credits on her songs. The controversy surrounding her songwriting credits began with interviews in which she attributed herself as the songwriter for songs in which she was a co-writer or for which her contributions were marginal. In a cover story for Vanity Fair in 2005, she claimed to have "written" several number-one songs for Destiny's Child, contrary to the credits, which list her as a co-writer among others. In a 2007 interview with Barbara Walters, she claimed to have conceived the musical idea for the Destiny's Child hit "Bootylicious", which provoked the song's producer Rob Fusari to call her father and then-manager Mathew Knowles in protest over the claim. As Fusari tells Billboard, "[Knowles] explained to me, in a nice way, he said, 'People don't want to hear about Rob Fusari, producer from Livingston, N.J. No offense, but that's not what sells records. What sells records is people believing that the artist is everything.'" However, in an interview for Entertainment Weekly in 2016, Fusari said Beyoncé "had the 'Bootylicious' concept in her head. That was totally her. She knew what she wanted to say. It was very urban pop angle that they were taking on the record."
In 2007, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ruled out Beyoncé as a songwriter on "Listen" (from Dreamgirls) for its Oscar nomination in the Best Original Song category. Responding to a then-new three-writer limit, the Academy deemed her contribution the least significant for inclusion. In 2009, Ryan Tedder's original demo for "Halo" leaked on the Internet, revealan identical resemblance to Beyoncé's recording, for which she received a writing credit. When interviewed by The Guardian, Tedder explained that Beyoncé had edited the bridge of the song vocally and thus earned the credit, although he vaguely questioned the ethics of her possible "demand" for a writing credit in other instances. In 2014, the popular industry songwriter Linda Perry responded to a question about Beyoncé receiving a co-writing credit for changing one lyric to a song: "Well haha um that's not songwriting but some of these artists believe if it wasn't for them your song would never get out there so they take a cut just because they are who they are. But everyone knows the real truth about Beyoncé. She is talented but in a completely different way."Perry's remarks were echoed by Frank Ocean, who acknowledged the trend of recording artists forcing writing credits while jokingly suggesting Beyoncé had an exceptional status.
Reflecting on the controversy, Sunday Independent columnist Alexis Kritselis wrote in 2014, "It seems as though our love for all things Beyoncé has blinded us to the very real claims of theft and plagiarism that have plagued her career for years", and that, "because of her power and influence in the music industry, it may be hard for some songwriters to 'just say no' to Beyoncé." While reporting on her controversial writing record, pop culture critics such as Roger Friedman and The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon said the trend has redefined popular conceptions of songwriting, with Fallon saying, "the village of authors and composers that populate Lemonade, [Kanye West']s Life of Pablo, [Rihanna's] Anti, or [Drake's] Views—all of which are still reflective of an artist's voice and vision ... speaks to the truth of the way the industry's top artists create their music today: by committee." James S. Murphy of Vanity Fair suggests Beyoncé is among the major artists like Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday who are "celebrated [not] because [they] write such good parts, but because [they] create them out of the words that are given".
Beyoncé names Michael Jackson as her major musical influence. Aged five, Beyoncé attended her first ever concert where Jackson performed and she claims to have realized her purpose. When she presented him with a tribute award at the World Music Awards in 2006, Beyoncé said, "if it wasn't for Michael Jackson, I would never ever have performed." She admires Diana Ross as an "all-around entertainer". Beyoncé was heavily influe by Tina Turner, who she said "Tina Turner is someone that I admire, because she made her strength feminine and sexy". and Whitney Houston, who she said "inspired me to get up there and do what she did." She credits Mariah Carey's singing and her song "Vision of Love" as influencing her to begin practicing vocal runs as a child. Her other musical influences include Prince, Lauryn Hill, Sade Adu, Donna Summer, Mary J. Blige, Anita Baker, and Rachelle Ferrell.
The feminism and female empowerment themes on Beyoncé's second solo album B'Day were inspired by her role in Dreamgirls and by singer Josephine Baker. Beyoncé paid homage to Baker by performing "Déjà Vu" at the 2006 Fashion Rocks concert wearing Baker's trademark mini-hula skirt embellished with fake bananas. Beyoncé's third solo album, I Am... Sasha Fierce, was inspired by Jay-Z and especially by Etta James, whose "boldness" inspired Beyoncé to explore other musical genres and styles. Her fourth solo album, 4, was inspired by Fela Kuti, 1990s R&B, Earth, Wind & Fire, DeBarge, Lionel Richie, Teena Marie, The Jackson 5, New Edition, Adele, Florence and the Machine, and Prince.
Beyoncé has stated that she is personally inspired by Michelle Obama (the 44th First Lady of the United States), saying "she proves you can do it all, and has described Oprah Winfrey as "the definition of inspiration and a strong woman. "She has also discussed how Jay-Z is a continuing inspiration to her, both with what she describes as his lyrical genius and in the obstacles he has overcome in his life. Beyoncé has expressed admiration for the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, posting in a letter "what I find in the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, I search for in every day in music ... he is lyrical and raw". In February 2013, Beyoncé said that Madonna inspired her to take control of her own career. She commented, "I think about Madonna and how she took all of the great things she achieved and started the label and developed other artists. But there are not enough of those women."Beyoncé also cited Cher as a fashion inspiration.