With the release of her double album, I Am...Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé debuts "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)", which inspires countless choreography copycats. "The double album allows me to take more risks and really step out of myself," she says of her No.1 album, "or shall I say, step more into myself, and reveal a side of me that only people who know me see."
Beyoncé portrays music legend Etta James in Cadillac Records, a film that chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists. "This is the first time I felt that naked and vulnerable acting," she tells Essence. "After I finished the scene, me, my mom, my acting coach, [my cousin and executive assistant] Angie, we were all just jumping up and down, like, 'Oh my God, that was it!'"
Beyoncé takes home six of the 10 Grammys she is nominated for – including song of the year for "Single Ladies" and best female pop vocal for "Halo" – becoming the only female artist to win six trophies in one night.
After a six-month hiatus from the spotlight, Beyoncé releases her fourth solo album aptly titled, 4. "I wanted this record to come from a raw place," she tells W of her new release, which quickly tops the albums charts. "It's very much the sort of album a pop star makes when she doesn't feel like she has anything to prove," Rolling Stone lauds of the singer's new sound.
Talk about a showstopper: Beyoncé turns up at the MTV VMAs posing for photos cradling a visible baby bump. "I have a surprise!" teased the singer, whose rep confirms the pop star and husband Jay-Z are expecting their first child. Later, during her performance of "Love on Top," she declares, "I want you to feel the love that's growing inside of me."
Beyoncé and Jay-Z welcome a daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, in New York City. "Her birth was emotional and extremely peaceful, we are in heaven," the new parents say in a statement. "She was delivered naturally at a healthy 7 lbs. and it was the best experience of both of our lives." The proud father also releases a personal ode to his baby girl, a song titled "Glory" in which he raps, "My greatest creation was you."
After numerous appearances on PEOPLE's Most Beautiful list, Beyoncé, 30, nabs the coveted cover. "I feel more beautiful than I've ever felt because I've given birth," says PEOPLE's 2012 World's Most Beautiful Woman, who counts being a mother to Blue Ivy as her highest honor. "I have never felt so connected, never felt like I had such a purpose on this earth."
The singer courts controversy after delivering a rousing rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" during President Obama's second inauguration ceremony, when a spokesperson for the Marine Corps Band alleges Beyoncé lip-synced to a pre-recorded version of the national anthem. While the singer doesn't comment, a media officer from the Pentagon defends her, saying, "No one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded."
Beyoncé rocks the Superdome in New Orleans as the halftime performer for Super Bowl XLVII, singing hit songs "Halo" and "Single Ladies," as well as bringing Destiny's Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams on stage for a medley of the band's biggest hits. The energetic performance silences critics of her inauguration performance, with PEOPLE's music critic Chuck Arnold calling the singer, "a live singer in full command."
Only a week after the Super Bowl, the singer adds another accomplishment to her checklist when her song, "Love on Top," wins the Grammy Award for best traditional R&B performance.
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