Braxton, Brandy, Monica, etc tried but it’s Beyonce who becomes the new Diana Ross
With millions in album sales, Grammys, more than a half-dozen hit singles, a blockbuster movie and A-list endorsements, it's hard to imagine how Beyonce’s star could get much brighter.
Yet with the release of her debut cd "Dangerously in Love" last summer — Beyonce’s first solo disc apart from the megagroup Destiny's Child — the 21-year-old is moving into a celebrity stratosphere so luminous even she's a bit nervous about it. It is a level of crossover stardom not seen by an African-American female singer since Diana Ross
left The Supremes in the early 70’s.
In terms of sales and critical praise, Whitney Houston
had a fantastic debut herself in 1984 but she didn’t create the media frenzy that has followed Beyonce in the past year.
Toni Braxton, Brandy, Monica
and the late Aaliyah
all had crossover chart success at various times and were MTV-friendly but none of them had a hit that was an international smash like “Crazy In Love” nor could they sizzle in live performances the way Beyonce has in 2003.
You really have to go back to Diana Ross to find an African-American female singer who generates as much buzz as Beyonce.
"It's getting worse," says Beyonce in her husky, Southern-accented voice. "Sometimes, the more movies I do and the more TV shows that I do, the more people obviously know me, and after the L'Oreal commercial — after all these wonderful opportunities, people recognize me more, so it's harder for me to go anywhere," she says.
"It takes getting used to, everywhere you go somewhere, you have to sign autographs or look a certain way to get pictures."
She' even became a one-named wonder: she simply uses the name Beyonce (pronounced BEE-yon-SAY) now.
"I think she's become the superstar that we all expected she would be," says Rick Krim, a vice president of VH1, which featured Beyonce on its recent "Divas" concert; her powerhouse performance of the ballad "Dangerously in Love" brought down the house.
Krim says Beyonce is reaching the level of a Jennifer Lopez, whose celebrity cuts across several different genres, including film and music.
"When you combine the musical talents and the success, you can spread that success to other movies," he says. "I think it just broadens your appeal and takes you to a whole another level."
Beyonce's stardom has long eclipsed that of her two group mates, Michelle Williams
and Kelly Rowland
. Still, she insists that her solo career is just a brief diversion in the juggernaut that has become Destiny's Child
, one of the most successful girl groups of all time. Their hits include the songs "Survivor," "Independent Women, Part I," and "Bootylicious," which gave the world a new way to describe a sexy, curvaceous woman.
"I'm going to do another Destiny's Child album, regardless if I sell no-million, one million, five million or however million," she says. "The only way I won't do it unless Destiny's Child is no longer friends — no other reason, but because I love them and I love being in the group."
While Beyonce says the material on her solo album is in part based on her own life, she remains mum on her romance with rapper Jay-Z
"It's easier if you don't talk about it. I mean, people can say what they want. I'm not trying to deny anything — or confirm anything," she says. "I just want to feel like I've got something (private)."
With the focus getting even tighter on Beyonce, that may be a difficult task to keep up. But she'll keep trying.
"Those little things are important to me, and it's very important that I don't get so big that I can't do anything anymore," she says. "That's kind of a scary thing."