Knowles is the older of two daughters born to Mathew Knowles and Tina Beyincé in Houston, Texas. Her parents decided on her first name as a tribute to her mother's maiden name. Her maternal grandparents, Lumis Beyincé and Agnéz Deréon (a seamstress), were French-speaking Louisiana Creoles. She is the older sister of Solange Knowles, cousin to Angela Beyincé (her personal assistant and song co-writer), and aunt to Solange's son Daniel Julez Santana-Smith. By age seven, she was attending dance school and was a soloist in the church choir. Her dance instructor took an interest in Knowles and took her star student to various competitions, Knowles went on to win over thirty local singing and dancing competitions.
Knowles and her childhood best friend LaTavia Roberson along with Kelly Rowland and LeToya Luckett formed a quartet that would perform in their backyards and in Tina Knowles' hair salon. After singing at local events, they got their break when they entered Star Search. The group, then named "Girl's Tyme", were disappointed after losing the competition. Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé's father decided to help the girls reach their dreams of becoming singers. He quit his six-figure salary job as a multi-million dollar equipment salesman at Xerox to manage the group. This decision by Mathew eventually affected the whole family. Their income had been cut in half, causing the family to move into two different apartments. When the group was signed to Columbia Records in 1996, it gave the entire family a second chance at making things work.