Knowles' work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including 16 Grammy Awards, 11 MTV Video Music Awards, four American Music Awards, a Billboard Millennium Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with Destiny's Child. In 2009, Billboard named her the Top Radio Songs Artist of the 2000s decade, and ranked her as the 4th overall Artist of the Decade (and as the First Female Artist of that period). The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), also recognized Knowles as the Top Certified Artist of the 2000s. In the US, Knowles has sold over 11.2 million albums as of May 2010, and more than 30.4 million digital singles as of January 2012. She has sold 75 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Knowles appeared on VH1's 2010 list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", and ranked third on their "100 Greatest Women in Music" list in 2012. In April 2008, Knowles married American rapper Jay-Z, and gave birth to their first child, Blue Ivy Carter, in January 2012.
Knowles was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Mathew Knowles, a professional record manager, and Tina Knowles (née Beyincé), a costume designer and hair stylist. Knowles' father is African American. Her mother, a Louisiana Creole, has African, French, Native American, and Irish ancestry; she is a descendant of Acadian leader Joseph Broussard. Knowles was baptized after her mother's maiden name, as a tribute to her mother. She is the elder sister of Solange Knowles, a singer, songwriter and actress.
Knowles was educated at St. Mary's Elementary School in Texas, where she enrolled in dance classes, including ballet and jazz. Her talent in singing was discovered when her dance instructor began humming a song and she finished it, hitting the high-pitched notes. Knowles' interest in music and performing began after participating in a school talent show. She sang John Lennon's "Imagine" and won the competition. At age seven, Knowles started gaining attention from the press, having been mentioned in the Houston Chronicle as a nominee for the local performing arts award The Sammy.