Whether you now know her as Bey, Queen B, or Sasha Fierce, you may not know how this global superstar and ambassador for female empowerment started out.
Beyoncé established herself as a singing talent while – ironically – enrolled in a dance class in her youth. She joined a girl group at the age of 8 then known as ‘Girl’s Tyme’ alongside her close childhood friend Kelly Rowland, which eventually morphed into ‘Destiny’s Child’ under the management of her father. The group sealed a life-changing deal with Columbia Records in 1997.
The journey of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles wasn’t without difficulty, but the unwavering support of her family and tutors allowed her to tap into her enormous potential.
It may come as a surprise to find out that Beyoncé was rather a shy girl in her early years growing up in Houston, Texas. To encourage her to open up and make friends beyond her sister Solange, her parents essentially pushed her to sign up to a dance class, where her prodigious vocal abilities were first discovered. So great was her talent that her family even started charging $5 a head for private living room performances!
Before long she was performing in local competitions, and aligning her education with her passion by attending schools that could nurture her talent, from Parker Elementary School (specializing in music) at age 9 to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts at 16. Throughout this time she was actively engaged in honing her craft and was even a soloist in her local church choir for two years in her teens. Her family was very much unanimously committed to making their daughter’s dreams come to fruition.
The Formation of Destiny’s Child
After successfully auditioning for ‘Girl’s Tyme’ at age 8 with Kelly Rowland to form a singing, rapping and dancing group of five, they were discovered by an R&B producer and placed on the nation’s largest televised talent show at the time, ‘Star Search’. They failed to win the show (something which Beyoncé in hindsight blames on the song choice they made), and a few years later in 1995, her father Mathew Knowles quit his job as a medical equipment salesman to manage both his daughter and the group itself. This was a financially trying time for the family, whose income was now slashed in half. Beyoncé’s parents were even forced to live in different accommodation over this period.
In the same year under Mathew’s management, the girls had thought they’d secured a record deal with Atlanta Records but were abruptly axed by the company while recording an album. It’s thought that the disheartening strain this (and similar) events put on the family led to the separation of young Beyoncé’s parents. However, it’s a good thing they persevered as the following year fresh opportunities started appearing, with the potential to catapult the girls into stardom.
1996 culminated in the group, at last, getting a contract with Columbia Records as well as switching to the name Destiny’s Child; the Knowles family even reunited! Everything else that follows is history – their debut single and first major hit (selling over a million copies) “No, No, No” released in late 1997, and in early 1998 their self-titled debut album dropped to firmly establish the original quartet (Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, LeToya Luckett) as a new, dominant force in the music industry.