Beyoncé's first solo set, "Dangerously in Love," arrived in 2003. Its popularity was powered by her stiletto-heeled gyrations in the video for the lead single, "Crazy in Love."
That first solo album extolled the joys of love, but the singer/songwriter's second solo release, the 2006 set "B'Day," centered on the theme of female empowerment. With her single "Irreplaceable," Beyoncé introduced into the popular lexicon the memorable phrase, "To the left, to the left," which translates to "I can find someone else. I don't have to stay in this dead-end relationship."
"I have to commend Beyoncé's vision for doing that song and including it on the record," says Mikkel S. Eriksen, one-half of the production duo Stargate. "It was a big risk because the song sounded very different from what was going on at the time and with the other material on the album. I don't think any of us knew it would be one of the biggest records of her career."
Producer Rodney Jerkins, who worked with Destiny's Child on the hit "Say My Name," witnessed Beyoncé's ability to multitask without dropping the ball while recording the "B'Day" album.
The singer had four studio rooms going simultaneously during a recording session in New York: Jerkins was in one while producers Sean Garrett and Swizz Beatz were housed in two other rooms. Beyoncé was in a fourth room cutting background vocals.
As Jerkins recalls, among the songs she was working on were "Déjà Vu," "Ring the Alarm" and "Upgrade You."
"It freaked me out," he recalls. "It wasn't the fact that she had four rooms going but that she was able to pull off the personality and emotion on each song, going from a ballad to a ghetto hood beat. Songs are like mini-movies to me, and no one can act in four movies at a time. But if you listen to those songs, you can hear the tonality and what she had to do to attack it. Not too many people can wake up and do that -- and do that consistently."
"What people may not know about her is that besides being such an accomplished performer, she's a great producer," adds Big Jon Platt, president of West Coast creative for EMI Music Publishing. "She also has some of the best A&R instincts I've ever come across."
Beyoncé's creative instincts and multitasking skills provide the underpinnings for her other pursuits, including acting, business ventures and philanthropy.
She made her acting debut in the 2001 made-for-TV production "Carmen: A Hip Hopera" for MTV. That was followed in 2002 by her first feature film, co-starring as Foxxy Cleopatra opposite Mike Myers in "Austin Powers in Goldmember." Since then she's appeared in five more feature films: "The Fighting Temptations" in 2003; "The Pink Panther" in 2006, with Steve Martin; the hit musical "Dreamgirls" in 2006, with Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy; "Cadillac Records" in 2008, in the role of Etta James; and her most recent, "Obsessed," released earlier this year.
On the latter two films, Beyoncé also served as executive producer through her own company, Parkwood Films, named after the street she grew up on in Houston.
Beyoncé previously displayed her business skills in 2004 when she and her mother Tina established the production company Beyond Productions. A year later, the pair launched their first fashion collection, named House of Dereon in honor of the singer's maternal grandmother, Agnez Dereon. Since then, two other collections have been spun off: the junior lifestyle line called Dereon and the young girl's division Dereon Girls.
Beyoncé's endorsement opportunities include alliances with Pepsi and L'Oreal along with Tommy Hilfiger's True Star fragrance and Emporio Armani's Diamonds. Those fragrance forays set the stage for the development of Beyoncé's own Coty fragrance, which will be unveiled in early 2010.