Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, simply known as Beyoncé (// bee-YON-say; born September 4, 1981), is an American singer, songwriter and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child, and rose to fame in the late 1990s as lead singer of R&B girl-group Destiny's Child. Managed by her father Mathew Knowles, the group became one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. Their hiatus saw the release of Knowles' debut album Dangerously in Love (2003), which established the singer as a viable solo artist worldwide; it sold 11 million copies, earned five Grammy Awards and featured the Billboard number one singles "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy".
Following the disbandment of Destiny's Child in 2005, she released her second solo album B'Day (2006), which contained hits "Irreplaceable" and "Beautiful Liar". Knowles also ventured into acting, with a Golden Globe nominated performance in Dreamgirls (2006), and starring roles in The Pink Panther (2006) and Obsessed (2009). Her marriage to rapper Jay-Z and portrayal of Etta James in Cadillac Records (2008) influenced her third album I Am... Sasha Fierce (2008), which saw the birth of her alter-ego Sasha Fierce and earned a record-setting six Grammy Awards in 2010, including Song of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". Knowles took a hiatus from music in 2010, took over management of her career and explored 1970s R&B, rock and roll, and African and funk styles. As a result, her fourth album, 4 (2011), deviated towards a more traditional R&B sound.
A self-described "modern-day feminist", Knowles' songs are often characterized by themes of love, relationships and monogamy, as well as female sexuality and empowerment. On stage, her dynamic, highly-choreographed performances have led to critics hailing her as one of the best entertainers in contemporary popular music. Throughout a career spanning 15 years, she has won 17 Grammy Awards and sold over 118 million records as a solo artist and 60 million with Destiny's Child, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. The Recording Industry Association of America recognized Knowles as the top certified artist in America during the 2000s decade. In 2009, Billboard named her the Top Radio Songs Artist of the Decade, the Top Female Artist of the 2000s and their Artist of the Millennium. In 2013, she was also included in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Beyoncé has released several music videos, working with many directors, as well as co-producing some of them. She took her first lead role in the film for Carmen: A Hip Hopera. Beyoncé's first solo music video was the soundtrack single, "Work It Out", for a film "Austin Powers in Goldmember" she had a lead role in. The music video contained clips of the film as well as a 70's disco theme with Knowles debuting a curly afro. After the parting of Destiny's Child, Knowles debuted her first official music video as a solo artist for "Crazy in Love" featuring long time boyfriend Jay-Z. The song spent 9 weeks on the top of the billboards and the video topped charts all around the world for its iconic simple theme and fierce walking tracks. Other videos released from Dangerously in Love included cameo appearances by Sean Paul & Usher.
"Rather Die Young" is a song recorded by American singer Beyoncé for her fourth studio album, 4 (2011). Composed by Knowles, Jeff Bhasker, Luke Steele, the song's development was motivated by the fact that Knowles wanted a song that would help people through both their painful and happy moments. "Rather Die Young" is an R&B-soul power ballad that is instrumentally complete with synthesizers, a piano, a strummy guitar, and heavy drums, which were inspired by the work of the American band Earth, Wind & Fire. Lyrically, the song talks about the inability to fight what the heart wants. The female protagonist sings to an indifferent love interest, whom she likens to American actor James Dean and tells him that she prefers to die rather than live without him.
"Rather Die Young" was generally well received by contemporary music critics who described it as a dark, yet enchanting ballad. They highlighted Knowles' vocal power and the song's melody. Critics also noted that the ballad was heavily influenced by the 1980s R&B and soul music, adding that it has a Philadelphia soul vibe. However, some of them commented that it was barely distinguishable among the other songs on 4, criticizing its chorus which, according to them, forms the major part of the song. Following the release of 4, "Rather Die Young" charted at number 37 on the South Korea Gaon International Singles Chart, based on downloads alone. The song was part of Knowles' set list for her 4 Intimate Nights with Beyoncé shows, held at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.
Lincoln Memorial Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2009, inaugural opening ceremonies
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