June 16, 2006

Beyonce readies “B-Day” celebration

By Tamara Conniff

NEW YORK (Billboard) - When it came time to begin work on
her second solo album, Beyonce didn't even tell her manager,
who also happens to be her father, that she'd booked studio

The album, dubbed "B-Day," is due September 5 via Sony
Urban/Columbia. First single "Deja Vu" features Jay-Z.

Beyonce arranged, wrote and produced all the songs with her
dream team of Sean Garrett, Rich Harrison, Rodney Jerkins, the
Neptunes and Swizz Beatz. She may have chosen the five hottest
producers in the business, each with a discography of hits that
reads like the track listing to a "NOW" compilation. But it did
not stop her from shrewdly playing each producer off the other.

"I called up Sean, Rich and Rodney. I got them each a room
at Sony Studios, and we went to work." Beyonce laughed at the
memory. She says she would leave Harrison's room and go check
on Garrett and say, "Wow, Rich has some great beats. It was
healthy competition," she told Billboard.

Her last solo album, 2003's "Dangerously in Love," was
about the joys of love, but with "B'Day," Beyonce wanted to
focus on a different side of the emotion. The artist, who is in
a long-term relationship with Jay-Z, said her love life is
rather "boring," but she likes it that way -- "I'm happy in my
life." So for this album, she channeled her acting chops and
the feeling of being jilted by a lover to write an album that
"speaks for every woman."

"This is about female empowerment," she said. "This album
is different, it's conceptual, and I do things with my voice
that I haven't done before."

Among the key tracks are potential singles "Ring the Alarm"
and "Freekum Dress." The former, produced by Swizz Beatz, shows
a harder edge to Beyonce's sound. Of the latter, Beyonce said,
"You know, when your man starts taking you for granted and you
put on that one dress that makes him go, 'Wow,' and not want
you to leave the house."

Beyonce is also gearing up for the December release of the
film "Dreamgirls," in which she stars with Eddie Murphy and
Jamie Foxx. A world tour is due to begin in spring 2007, during
which she will be backed by an all-female band chosen via a
nationwide audition.