Becoming ... Beyoncé

See how the R&B diva went from Star Search wannabe to superstardom. By Serena Kappes

01 of 12

DANGEROUS CURVES

DANGEROUS CURVES
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Beyoncé (performing in April) coined the term "bootylicious," now in the Oxford English Dictionary – an apt description of her own curvaceous figure. "It can be an effort not to make her look too sexy," says mom Tina Knowles, who designs many of her outfits. To stay fit, Beyoncé runs and works out at the gym. Her vices? French fries and popcorn shrimp.

02 of 12

SMELL OF SUCCESS

SMELL OF SUCCESS
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Beyoncé strolls with Tommy Hilfiger at the June 21 London launch of their new fragrance, True Star. "There's not many women in the world who can say they have their own fragrance, and not many black women, so this is wonderful," she says. The singer also plans to launch a clothing line with her mother.

03 of 12

BRIGHT FUTURE

BRIGHT FUTURE
CTSY. KNOWLES FAMILY

By 3, Beyoncé (whose unusual moniker comes from her mother's maiden name) already had a winning smile. Four years later, the Houston native began taking dance classes. By age 10, she had formed her first vocal group, Girls Tyme, and competed on Star Search.

04 of 12

STAGE PRESENCE

STAGE PRESENCE
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Childhood friends Beyoncé, LaTavia Roberson, Kelly Rowland and LeToya Luckett (from left, in 1999) became Destiny's Child in the early '90s. But after Luckett and Roberson fired Beyoncé's dad, Mathew, as their manager, they were ousted from the group in 1999 and a lawsuit ensued. "For a month I stayed in bed. I was hurt, on the verge of a nervous breakdown," Beyoncé told Teen People.

05 of 12

INDEPENDENT WOMEN

INDEPENDENT WOMEN
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After taking a hiatus to pursue solo projects (including Beyoncé's triple-platinum 2003 album Dangerously in Love), Destiny's Child – now featuring (from left) Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé and Michelle Williams (in 2001) – went back into the studio in June to record a new album. "We're still together and very happy," says Rowland.

06 of 12

SECRET LOVE

SECRET LOVE
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Beyoncé and rapper Jay-Z (right, partying with P. Diddy at a fashion event June 7) have kept their romance quiet, despite turning up together all over the world since beginning their relationship in 2002. "I don't say if he's my boyfriend or not," Beyoncé insisted in 2003.

07 of 12

SISTER OF THE BRIDE

SISTER OF THE BRIDE
CTSY. KNOWLES FAMILY

Wedding bells rang for Beyoncé's sister Solange, 17, and college football player Daniel Smith, 19, at the Old Bahama Resort on Feb. 27 (from left, cousin Angela Beyince, Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé, Smith, Solange, mom Tina and dad Mathew). Bridesmaid Beyoncé "made a joke about her baby sister beating her to the altar," a waiter at the event told PEOPLE.

08 of 12

LADIES IN CHARGE

LADIES IN CHARGE
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Beyoncé became part of another powerful trio when she headed out on the road with Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott on the 24-city Ladies First tour earlier this year. "I've known Beyoncé since we were 13," says Keys (backstage at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center on March 23). "We've seen each other's careers grow."

09 of 12

TROPHY GIRL

TROPHY GIRL

"He's a great manager but a greater dad," says Beyoncé (dressed up for a beauty pageant at age 8) of her father. Says Mathew of his famous daughter: "The first time I saw her onstage, at a school talent show, she was just a different person. Tina and I looked at each other like, Wow! Where did that come from?"

10 of 12

WHAT A PAIR

WHAT A PAIR
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It was a double dose of Beyoncé when the singer attended the unveiling of her $85,000 wax likeness at Madame Tussaud's in New York City on May 26. Her figure is dressed in a copy of the orange-and-pink Versace dress she wore in her "Crazy in Love" video. "She knows how to laugh and be a regular person," says mom Tina.

11 of 12

SCREEN DREAMS

SCREEN DREAMS
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Beyoncé – who has appeared in several movies, including 2002's Austin Powers in Goldmember and 2003's The Fighting Temptations – next costars in The Pink Panther with Steve Martin (left, on the movie's set in May). But, she told Time, "I need to wait a couple more movies to make sure I know what I'm doing before I take over."

12 of 12

SMOOTH SAILING

SMOOTH SAILING
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Of her career goals, Beyoncé (with Jay-Z in Saint-Tropez in August 2003) once said, "I wanna have an Oscar and a Grammy." (For the latter, she's covered: She already has eight Grammys.) Says mom Tina: "Beyoncé is involved in every aspect of her career. She's calling the shots."

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