Happy birthday, Beyonce! The star celebrates her 40th birthday on Sept. 4, 2021, and in honor of the occasion, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at her life and career in photos. Keep reading to go on a journey back in time from Destiny's Child to superstardom…
Beyonce Giselle Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, on Sept. 4, 1981, and started taking dance classes in elementary school. She also started singing at a young age and worked hard to hone her craft as an entertainer. At 8, she auditioned for an all-girl group called Girl's Tyme alongside future bandmates Kelly Rowland and LaTavia Roberson and three other girls. Beyonce's dad, Mathew Knowles, went on to manage the group. He cut it down from six to four members and helped them eventually get signed to Columbia Records. They changed their name to Destiny's Child — they're seen performing here in 1998 — and the rest is music history…
Destiny's Child's first big hit? A song on the "Men in Black" soundtrack in 1997. Their self-titled debut album — which included their first hit single, "No, No, No" — soon followed in 1998. In September that same year, the group took home three Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. They were also nominated for one Soul Train Music Award in 1998. Members Kelly Rowland, Beyonce Knowles, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson attended the show together that year.
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Destiny's Child stayed very busy, releasing their second album, "The Writing's on the Wall," in 1999. The ladies picked up their first two Grammy nominations for the album track "Bills, Bills, Bills" at the 2000 show (seen here).
A breakup! Destiny's Child had a major shakeup in February 2000 when LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson were kicked out of the group and replaced by Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. Just five months later, there was another change: Farrah left the group. Destiny's Child continued on as a trio featuring Kelly Rowland, Beyonce Knowles and Michelle Williams. The ladies are seen here after a Nicole Miller fashion show in New York City in September 2000.
In 2001, Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams were nominated for five Grammys and took home two for their hit single "Say My Name." They're seen here posing with their hardware backstage at the award show that February. Less than three months later in May 2001, they released their third album, "Survivor" featuring singles like "Bootylicious," "Independent Women Part 1" and the title track. It did well commercially and critically, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
In October 2001, Destiny's Child released the holiday album "8 Days of Christmas." That December, they announced that they were taking time off from the group to focus on solo projects after putting out four albums in four years, but they remained close.
In February 2002, the song "Survivor" earned Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams a Grammy. The trio, who were on hiatus as they pursued solo work, came together that night to accept their prize. They're seen here at a 2002 Grammys afterparty with Bey's parents, Mathew and Tina Knowles.
From music to movies! July 2002 marked Beyonce's big-screen debut: She played Foxxy Cleopatra opposite Mike Myers in "Austin Powers in Goldmember." The film not only let her flex her acting skills but show off her vocal talents, as she contributed the song "Work It Out" to the soundtrack.
Beyonce lent her voice to rapper JAY-Z's "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" in October 2002. The musical pairing proved successful, and Jay in turn appeared on her debut solo album's first single, "Crazy in Love," which was released in May 2003. What they didn't want fans to know was that they'd quietly started dating in 2001 after a year and a half of talking on the phone. How'd they meet? Jay later confirmed they were introduced at MTV's March 2000 Spring Break festivities in Cancun, Mexico, and got to chatting while seated next to one another on the flight home. Bey and Jay are seen here performing "Crazy in Love" during the Third Annual BET Awards in Los Angeles in 2003.
In October 2003, Beyonce rubbed elbows with royalty! That month, the star attended a "Fashion Rocks" event in London, where she got the chance to meet Prince Charles.
Beyonce united with two fellow superstars in 2004 for a very memorable Pepsi commercial. The singer appeared alongside Britney Spears and Pink in the ad, which saw them dressed as gladiators singing Queen's "We Will Rock You" in a Roman arena. The trio are seen here at an event in January 2004 to launch the ad.
Beyonce's debut solo album, "Dangerously in Love," and its music earned her five Grammys in February 2004. Aside from collecting the most awards that night, the star also performed alongside Prince on the Grammys telecast.
In 2004, Beyonce attended the CFDA Fashion Awards alongside her mom, Tina Knowles — who also designed her dress for the occasion!
Beyonce and JAY-Z made their red carpet debut as a couple in August 2004 at the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami, where Bey took home the best female video prize for "Naughty Girl."
A Destiny's Child reunion! The group released their final studio album, "Destiny Fulfilled," in November 2004 and reunited for a world tour that ran until June 2005. Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland and Beyonce are seen here performing on "Good Morning America" in New York City the month their last album dropped.
Beyonce attended her very first Academy Awards alongside then-boyfriend JAY-Z in February 2005. She was on hand to perform some of the nominated songs that night including "Vois sur ton chemin (Look to Your Path)" from "The Chorus," "Learn to Be Lonely" from "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Believe" from "The Polar Express."
Moving on to fashion! House of Dereon, the clothing line created by Beyonce and mom Tina Knowles, launched in 2005. At first the items were sold at Destiny's Child shows, but the line would eventually expand. The mother-daughter duo are seen here at a House of Dereon auction benefiting the VH1 Save The Music Foundation in New York City that June.
Icons! Destiny's Child received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2006 — a few months after they released the compilation album "#1's."
December 2006 saw Beyonce return to Hollywood for "Dreamgirls," the big-screen version of the Broadway musical that went on to win two Academy Awards the following year. That wasn't the only movie Beyonce starred in that year — she also appeared in "The Pink Panther."
At the 2007 Grammy Awards, Beyonce performed her hit song from "Dreamgirls," "Listen," and took home a best contemporary R&B album prize for her second studio album, "B'Day."
You know you've made it when you have your own phone! Yep, back in October 2007, Samsung unveiled the "B Phone," a special edition Beyonce cell phone.
"I Am… Sasha Fierce" hit record store shelves in November 2008 and catapulted to the top of the charts thanks to Beyonce's smash hit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)." JAY-Z had already put a ring on the singer's finger: The couple quietly tied the knot back on April 4, 2008. Beyonce publicly opened up about the marriage to Seventeen magazine in their December issue that year.
Beyonce was on hand to sing "America the Beautiful" for President Barack Obama's inauguration in January 2009. She also sang the Etta James tune "At Last" later at his inaugural ball while the president and first lady Michelle Obama had their first dance.
In July 2009, Beyonce's latest venture into fashion hit shelves — Sasha Fierce for Dereon. The line sold at Macy's and Dillard's and included sportswear, outerwear, purses, shoes and more. She's seen here at the BET Awards a month before her line launched.
Though she didn't intend to get wrapped up in such a major pop culture moment, Beyonce was sucked into the drama at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009 when Kanye West disrespected a then-teenaged Taylor Swift in Bey's name. When Taylor won for best female video for "You Belong With Me," Kanye hopped on the stage, grabbed her mic away and announced his disapproval, telling the crowd he thought Bey should have won for "Single Ladies." "I'mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!" the rapper shouted. Beyonce showed total class later in the night when, after she won the video of the year award, instead of making her own acceptance speech, she invited Taylor on stage to finish the speech Kanye interrupted. "I'd like to give Taylor her moment," Beyonce said.
In January 2010, Beyonce attended the Grammy Awards with 10 nominations, tying with Lauryn Hill for the record of most nominations in a single year by a female artist. She won six that night, setting a record for the most wins in a single night by a female artist.
In August 2011, Beyonce made MTV Video Music Awards history with perhaps one of the coolest pregnancy announcements of all time. While performing her song "Love on Top," the star cradled her baby bump to show fans that she was expecting a child.
Baby makes three! Blue Ivy Carter joined the family in January 2012. Beyonce is seen here out with her daughter in New York City that March.
Beyonce returned to Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama's second inauguration in January 2013. This time, the powerhouse sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Time to hit the road! Beyonce went out on the "Mrs. Carter Show" world tour beginning in April 2013. It would be not only the most successful tour of her career but one of the most successful tours ever. She's seen here performing in Zagreb, Croatia.
In May 2014, Beyonce's sister Solange made headlines when video footage emerged showing the singer attacking brother-in-law JAY-Z in an elevator at a Met Gala afterparty while Beyonce looked on. Speculation about what sparked Solange's anger was rampant, but the trio wouldn't address it and attempted to tamp things down in a statement: "There has been a great deal of speculation about what triggered the unfortunate incident. But the most important thing is that our family has worked through it. Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred. They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in the public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward as a united family." The sisters are seen here a month later at a charity event in New York City.
Beyonce followed up her hit tour with another much-anticipated concert trek — the "On the Run" tour with hubby JAY-Z. The couple announced their new stadium tour in April 2014 and headed out on the road that June. They're seen here on stage in Cincinnati, Ohio.
At the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, Beyonce made headlines once again — this time for taking home the prestigious Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.
Beyonce's next single, "Formation," had a different kind of release — it appeared for free on the Tidal streaming platform. She performed it for the very first time live at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in February 2016 where she shared the stage with Coldplay and Bruno Mars. Two months later, she released the album "Lemonade" — which would become her most beloved album among critics and earn her nine Grammy noms — and an accompanying HBO film.
Dressing like Beyonce got a little easier in April 2016 after she launched her Ivy Park fashion line with Topshop.
Beyonce brought along a very special plus one to the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2016 — daughter Blue Ivy! The little one got dressed to the nines alongside her famous mom for the show.
2017 saw highs and lows for Beyonce fans. She showed off her baby bump during a Grammy Awards performance that February on the heels of an epic pregnancy announcement — she was expecting twins — and was later announced as the headliner of Coachella that same month. Unfortunately, she was later advised by her doctor not to perform at the desert music festival and pushed the performance a year. Twins Rumi and Sir Carter joined the family that June.
The twins stayed home and big sister Blue Ivy Carter tagged along with parents Beyonce and JAY-Z to the 2018 Grammys in New York City.
April 2018 saw Beyonce headline California's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. She made headlines as that year's most buzzed about performer. She followed that up with her and JAY-Z's wildly successful "On the Run II" tour, which ran until that October.
2019 was a big year for Beyonce on screen. She released "Homecoming," a documentary about her Coachella performance, in April and voiced Nala in the remake of "The Lion King" in July. She and daughter Blue Ivy Carter are seen here at the film's Los Angeles premiere.
Music royalty meets British royalty! Beyonce and JAY-Z spent time chatting with Prince Harry and wife Duchess Meghan at a charity premiere of Bey's film "The Lion King" in London in July 2019. Beyonce made headlines when she was captured on video hugging the American royal and calling Meghan "my princess."
July 2020 saw the release of Beyonce's "Black is King." The film and visual album debuted on Disney+ as a companion to "The Lion King: The Gift," which Beyonce released after "The Lion King" came out in 2019.
Four more! Beyonce took home four Grammy Awards at the 2021 ceremony, including best R&B performance for "Black Parade," best rap performance and best rap song for "Savage" with Megan Thee Stallion and best music video for "Brown Skin Girl." This brought her overall total to 28, making her the most awarded singer, most awarded female artist and second most awarded artist in Grammy history!
In June 2021 Beyonce was inducted into the Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame in Atlanta. The superstar, seen here that same month at a Brooklyn Nets game, was a member of the inaugural class alongside stars including Missy Elliot, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.