They say life begins at forty – and life has sure been fabulous during the four decades that Beyonce has been on this Earth so far.
The American superstar has been thrilling fans with her incredible voice and acting skills for more than half her life – while also commanding respect as a business woman and proud wife and mother.
With chart-topping albums, iconic singles and enough awards to fill rooms full of cabinets, Queen Bey has made a mark on the world that others wouldn’t achieve across an entire lifetime.
The singer will mark her big day on a Saturday – offering a chance to make an entire weekend of celebrations to turn 40 in style.
In homage to the one and only Beyonce here are a few of the highlights of her life and career so far…
A Star Is Born
Beyonce Giselle Knowles was born on Friday 4 September 1981 as the eldest daughter of her business woman mother Celestine ‘Tina’ Knowles and her music manager father, Mathew Knowles.
Bey was born in Houston, Texas, and was just a school girl when her singing voice began to draw attention to her.
Reports have stated Beyonce was just seven-years-old when she won her first singing contest against fellow competitors who were all in their mid-teens, and was eight-years-old when she was placed in a singing group alongside childhood friends Kelly Rowland and LaTavia Roberson.
The trio and three others performed around Texas under the name Girl’s Tyme – before, while Beyonce was aged 14, the group was cut to four singers and they finally landed a record deal with Columbia Records.
Alongside Kelly nad LaTavia, Beyonce was just 16-years-old when the group – now joined by LeToya Luckett and renamed Destiny’s Child, unleashed their debut single, No, No, No.
The song proved to be a hit – reaching number 5 in the UK and number 3 in the USA, and helping the group on their way towards global domination.
Second album, The Writing’s On The Wall, was released in July 1999 and included smash hits Bills, Bills, Bills, Say My Name and Jumpin’, Jumpin’.
During the release of the album’s singles, LaTavia and LeToya were removed from the group and replaced by soulfully voiced singer Michelle Williams – with the trip proving to be the winning formula for the band who went on to reach astronomical highs.
Third album, Survivor, topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and included the iconic single Bootylicious, while final album, Destiny Fulfilled, sold millions of copies worldwide and included the hits Lose My Breath and Soldier.
Music to Movies
While Destiny’s Child officially existed from 1990 until 2006, Beyonce side-stepped into the world of acting while the group were still riding high in the charts.
The star played Carmen Brown in the 2001 in made-for-TV romantic drama Carmen: A Hip Hopera alongside ER hunk Mekhi Phifer and a case of music icons including Wyclef Jean and Da Brat.
She made her big screen debut in 2002 comedy Austin Powers in Goldmember as FBI agent Foxxy Cleopatra – and went on to win praise for her serious performances as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls and Etta James in Cadillac Records.
While more recent film outings have seen Beyonce voice Nala in The Lion King and creating breathtaking films in support of her music for projects including Lemonade, Homecoming and Black Is King.
Before Destiny’s Child released their ‘final’ album, Destiny Fulfilled in 2004, Bey dipped her toe into the solo music pool with her debut album Dangerously In Love.
Lead single Crazy In Love – her duet with future husband, Jay Z – was a smash, topping the charts in the UK and USA, while the star has gone on to unleash an incredible 50 solo singles and six solo albums in the subsequent years.
Bey has duetted with Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Luther Vandross, Sean Paul, Shakira and more over the course of her solo career – marking herself as a music powerhouse among her contemporaries.
While she also redefined the way music was released – with the use of “shock release” albums which would drop without prior warning, to the absolute delight of fans.
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It’s not just music and acting that Beyonce has used to build her career, she has also made a name for herself in the world of fashion – both as a model and a designer and business owner.
Along with her mother, Tina, Beyonce created the House of Dereon fashion line in 2006 which offered high-end ready-to-wear designs – but the brand came to an end in 2012.
Bey has since enjoyed wider success with her sportswear brand Ivy Park – which was launched in 2016 and has seen the star collaborate with Adidas and collections completely sell out in as little as six minutes within launch.
Meanwhile, Bey has modelled for Armani and Tiffany & Co to be the face of fragrances and hugely expensive jewellery.
Mrs Carter and those cheating rumours
Beyonce and husband Shawn Carter – aka 51-year-old self-made billionaire businessman and rap icon Jay-Z – are one of the world’s most iconic couples.
The pair first started dating way back in 2002 when they collaborated on Jay’s single 03 Bonnie & Clyde – before amping up their romance by featuring in music videos and with Bey’s own single, Crazy In Love.
The couple tied-the-knot in 2008 in one of the most scaled back ceremonies two superstars could have – with a top secret wedding that was held in Jay’s New York City penthouse with just 40 guests in attendance.
The pair have kept their romantic lives relatively private – but did share videos and photos from their big day as party of their joint On The Run tour in 2014 giving fans rare insight in to their big day.
And while the duo are regarded as being one of the most rock solid couples in the world of celebrity, their romance has been tarnished with rumours of Jay having an affair.
Beyonce sent the rumour mill into overdrive when she referenced “Becky with the good hair” in her 2016 song Sorry, which debuted on her explosive album Lemonade.
The record was dropped unannounced with Beyonce giving no interviews, but the shock lyrics spoke for themselves.
Lemonade told the story of a woman realising her significant other was having a torrid affair before booting him out, getting revenge and ultimately learning how to forgive.
It is also speculated that the infamous ‘elevator incident’ which saw Beyonce casually standing back while her younger sister, Solange, lashed out at Jay in a lift in 2014 was also related to his infidelity.
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When Lemonade dropped and appeared to reveal almost all, fans went into overdrive trying to guess the identity of ‘Becky with the good hair.’
The mystery was dubbed the ‘2016 version of Who Shot JR’.
A number of women close to Jay Z even had to come out and clarify that they were not the lady with the enviably great hair Bey was singing about.
Designer Rachel Roy released a statement saying : “There is no validity to the idea that the song references me personally. There is no truth to the rumours.”
Shortly after Lemonade debuted, Rachel shared an Instagram post with the caption ‘good hair, don’t care.’
She swiftly took down the post before making her account private.
Rita Ora also found herself in the firing line.
She posted a Snapchat of her wearing a lemon bra with a ‘J’ necklace around her neck.
It later transpired the pendant was the letter ‘R’ in reverse.
Nevertheless, such was the Beyhive interest that Rita also spoke out to deny anything had happened with her former label boss.
“I have nothing but respect for Beyonce. Let’s continue enjoying Lemonade,” she tweeted.
Fans got to hear from Jay-Z himself the following hear when he realised his album 4:44.
The rapper made a series of thinly veiled apologises on the album but came clean during an interview with The New York Times.
“You have to survive. So you go into survival mode, and when you go into survival mode, what happens? You shut down all emotions,” Jay-Z told editor Dean Baquet, as he blamed his tough upbringing.
“So even with women, you gonna shut down emotionally, so you can’t connect. In my case, like, it’s deep. And then all the things happen from there: infidelity,” he admitted.
Beyonce may have given birth to some of the most iconic and timeless songs of the past 40 years, but she is also proud mother to three adorable kids.
The star and husband Jay welcomed their eldest daughter, Blue Ivy, on Saturday 7 January 2012 – with Beyonce’s fashion line, Ivy Park, named in honour of her child.
The singer thrilled fans five years later when she posed for an iconic photo shoot wearing a green veil and sat in front of a display of flowers to declare she was expecting not one but two babies.
The Instagram post became the most liked image at the time when it was shared in February 2017 – and babies Rumi and Sir arrived four months later, on Tuesday 13 June.
While Beyonce has left a legacy of music and acting performances that will continue to entertain millions for many years to come, she has also used her voice to try and make the world a better place.
She helped Barack Obama become the first person of colour to be President of the United States of America as she championed him fo this politics, held fundraisers for his election, and performed at his inauguration ceremony in 2013.
The star has also spotlighted the struggles people of colour endure in the USA and elsewhere in the world – notably lending her voice to support protests and campaigns around the world in 2020 in the wake of the death of George Floyd who died at the hands of police in May that year.
And during the Covid-19 health crisis, she made a surprise appearance during Lady Gaga’s One World: Together At Home concert to encourage people to take care during the pandemic, and to thank health workers for protecting the vulnerable and saving lives.