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Destiny's Child (also referred to as DC) was an American R&B girl group whose final line-up comprised lead singer Beyoncé Knowles alongside Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. Formed in 1997 in Houston, Texas, Destiny's Child members began their musical endeavors in their pre-teens under the name Girls' Tyme. After years of performing underground, they were signed to Columbia Records as Destiny's Child, comprising Knowles, Rowland, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett.
Destiny's Child was launched into mainstream recognition following the release of their best-selling second album, The Writing's on the Wall, which contained the number-one singles "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Say My Name". Despite critical and commercial success, the group was plagued by internal conflict and legal turmoil, as Roberson and Luckett attempted to split off the group's manager Mathew Knowles. They were soon replaced with Williams and Farrah Franklin; however, in 2000, Franklin also parted with the group, leaving them as a trio. Their third album, Survivor, which contains themes the public interpreted as a channel to the group's experience, contains the worldwide hits "Independent Women", "Survivor" and "Bootylicious". In 2002, they announced a hiatus and re-united two years later for the release of their fourth studio album, Destiny Fulfilled (2004).
Throughout their career, the group sold over 60 million records worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling recording artists in the United States Billboard magazine ranks the group as one of the greatest musical trios of all time, ranked the 9th Artist of the 00s, and had inducted the group in 2008 into the All time Hot 100 Artist at 68th place. In 2005, the World Music Awards recognized them as the World's Best-selling female group of all time.
19901997: Early beginnings and Girl's Tyme
In 1990, Beyoncé Knowles met rapper LaTavia Roberson while in an audition for a girl group. Based in Houston, Texas, they were joined to a group that performed rapping and dancing. Kelly Rowland, who relocated to Knowles' house because of family issues, joined them in 1991. Originally named Girl's Tyme, they were eventually cut down to six members including Támar Davis and sisters Nikki and Nina Taylor. With Knowles and Rowland, Girl's Tyme attracted nationwide attention: west-coast R&B producer Arne Frager flew to Houston to see them. He brought them to his studio, The Plant Recording Studios, in Northern California, with focus on Knowles' vocals because Frager thought she had personality and the ability to sing. With efforts to sign Girl's Tyme to a major record deal, Frager's strategy was to debut the group in Star Search, the biggest talent show on national TV at the time. However, they lost the competition because, according to Knowles, their choice of song was wrong; they were actually rapping instead of singing.
Because of the group's defeat, Knowles' father, Mathew, voluntarily dedicated his time to manage them. Mathew Knowles cut down the original lineup to four, with the removed of Davis and the Taylor sisters and the inclusion of LeToya Luckett in 1993. Aside from spending time at their church in Houston, Girl's Tyme practiced at their backyards and Headliners Salon, owned by Knowles' mother, Tina. The group would test routines in the salon, when it was on Montrose Boulevard in Houston, and sometimes would collect tips from the customers. Their try out would be critiqued by the people inside. During their school days, Girl's Tyme performed at local gigs. When summer came, Mathew Knowles established a "boot camp" to train them in dance and vocal lessons. After rigorous trainings, they began performing as opening acts for established R&B groups of that time such as SWV, Dru Hill and Immature. Tina Knowles designed the group's attires for their performances. When she was on the road with Girl's Tyme most of the time, she left her managerial function in the salon to her best friend, Vernell Jackson.
Over the course of the early years in their career, Girl's Tyme changed their name to Something Fresh, Cliché, the Dolls, and to Destiny. The group signed with Elektra Records with the name Destiny, but it was dropped several months later before it could release an album. The pursuit of a record deal affected the Knowles family: in 1995, Mathew Knowles resigned from his job as a medical-equipment salesman, a move that reduced Knowles' family's income by half, and her parents briefly separated due to the pressure. They finally changed their name to Destiny's Child in 1996, which was taken from a passage in the Book of Isaiah.
Matthew Knowles helped in negotiating a record deal with Columbia Records which signed the group in 1997. Prior to signing with Columbia, the group had recorded several tracks in Oakland, California produced by Dwayne Wiggins of Tony! Toni! Toné!, including "Killing Time", which upon the label's recognition that Destiny's Child had a "unique quality", was included in the soundtrack to the 1997 film Men in Black. The group released its debut single, "No, No, No", on November 11, 1997, in the United States.
19982000: Career breakthrough and lineup changes
Destiny's Child released their self-titled debut album in the United States on February 17, 1998, featuring productions by Rob Fusari, Jermaine Dupri, Wyclef Jean, Dwayne Wiggins and Corey Rooney. Destiny's Child peaked at number sixty-seven on the Billboard 200 and number fourteen on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It managed to sell over one million copies in the United States, earning a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The remix version to the album's lead single, "No, No, No", reached number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and number three on the Billboard Hot 100. Domestically, the single sold over one million copies and certified platinum by the RIAA. Its follow-up singles, "With Me Part 1" and "Get on the Bus" failed to reproduce the success of "No, No, No". In 1998, Destiny's Child garnered three Soul Train Lady of Soul awards Best New Artist for "No, No, No". Knowles considered their debut successful but not as huge because she claimed it a neo soul record and was way too mature for them.
After the success of their debut album, Destiny's Child re-entered the studio quickly, bringing in a new lineup of producers, including Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs and Rodney Jerkins. Coming up with The Writing's on the Wall, they released it on July 27, 1999 and it eventually became their breakthrough album. The Writing's on the Wall peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 and number two on R&B chart in early 2000. "Bills, Bills, Bills" was released in 1999 as the album's lead single and reached the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming their first US number-one single. The Writing's on the Wall has been credited to as Destiny's Child's breakthrough album, spurring their career and introducing them to wider audience. The said key to the breakthrough is the album's third single, "Say My Name", which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks. The successful release of the singles bolstered the album's sales, eventually selling over eight million copies in the United States, gaining eight-time platinum certification by the RIAA. The Writing's on the Wall sold more than fifteen million copies worldwide and was one of the top selling albums of 2000.
In December 1999, Luckett and Roberson attempted to split with their manager, claiming that he kept a disproportionate share of the group's profits and unfairly favored Knowles and Rowland. While they never intended to leave the group, when the video for "Say My Name" surfaced in February 2000, Roberson and Luckett found out that two new members were joining Knowles and Rowland. Prior to the video premiere, Knowles announced on TRL that original members Luckett and Roberson had left the group. The group had included Michelle Williams, a former backup singer to Monica, and Farrah Franklin, an aspiring singer-actress. Shortly after her stint with Monica, Williams was introduced to Destiny's Child by a choreographer friend, and was flown to Houston where she stayed with the Knowles family.
In March 2000, Roberson and Luckett took legal action suing both Mathew Knowles and their band mates for breach of partnership and fiduciary duties. Following the suit, both sides were disparaging each other in the media. Five months performing with Destiny's Child, Franklin left the group after, according to the group, being asked to leave due to missed promotional appearances and concerts. According to Williams, Franklin could not handle stress. Franklin, however, disclosed that she left because of the negativity surrounding the strife and her inability to assert any control in the decision making. Her departure was seen as less controversial. Williams, on the other hand, shared that her inclusion into the group resulted to "battling insecurity": "I was comparing myself to the other members, and the pressure was on me."
Towards the end of 2000, Roberson and Luckett dropped the portion of their lawsuit aimed at Rowland and Knowles in exchange for a settlement, though they retained one against their manager. As part of the agreement, both sides were prohibited from attacking each other publicly. Roberson and Luckett formed another girl group Anjel but were unsuccessful in record sales and publicity. Although affected by the turmoil, Destiny's Child's success continued. The following years of their career were seen as the group's most successful stretch, becoming a pop-cultural phenomenon. "Say My Name" became their second number-one and biggest single to date. The fourth single off The Writing's on the Wall, "Jumpin' Jumpin'", also became a top-ten hit. During this time, Destiny's Child began performing as an opening act at the concerts of pop singers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
With Williams in the new lineup, Destiny's Child recorded a theme song for the soundtrack to the film version of Charlie's Angels. Released as a single in October 2000, "Independent Women Part 1" spent eleven consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 from November 2000 to January 2001, the longest-running number-one single of Destiny's Child's career and of that year in the United States. The successful release of the single boosted the sales of the soundtrack album to Charlie's Angels to 1.5 million by 2001. In 2000, Destiny's Child won Soul Train's Sammy Davis Jr. Entertainer of the Year award.
20012003: Survivor, subsequent releases and hiatus
At the 2001 Billboard Music Awards, Destiny's Child won several accolades, including Artist of the Year and Duo/Group of the Year, and again won Artist of the Year among five awards they snagged in 2001. In September 2000, the group took home two at the sixth annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, including R&B/Soul Album of the Year, Group for The Writing's on the Wall. Destiny's Child recorded their third album, Survivor, in late 2000 until early 2001. In the production process, Knowles assumed more control in co-producing and co-writing almost the entire album. Survivor hit record stores in the spring of 2001 and entered the Billboard 200 at number one, selling over 663,000 copies in its first week sales. The first three singles, "Independent Women Part I", "Survivor" and "Bootylicious" reached the top three in the United States and were also successful in other countries; the first two were consecutive number-one singles in the United Kingdom. The album was certified four-time platinum in the United States and double platinum in Australia. To date, Survivor has sold over twelve million copies worldwide.
In October 2001, Destiny's Child released a holiday album, 8 Days of Christmas, which contained updated versions of several Christmas songs. The album managed to reach number thirty-four on the Billboard 200. In February 2001, Destiny's Child won two Grammy awards for "Say My Name": Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and Best R&B Song. They also earned an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo. Also in 2001, Destiny's Child sang backup vocals for Solange Knowles,who was the lead, on the theme song to the animated Disney Channel series The Proud Family. In March 2002, a remix compilation titled This Is the Remix was released to win fans over before a new studio album would be released. The remix album reached number 29 in the United States. The album has sold over 1 million copies worldwide and lists in the List of best-selling remix album of all time. The lead single and Grammy-winning song "Survivor" was by some interpreted as a response to the strife between the band members, although Knowles claimed it was not directed at anybody. Seeing it as a breach of the agreement that barred each party from public disparagement, Roberson and Luckett once again filed a lawsuit against Destiny's Child and Sony Music, shortly following the release of This Is the Remix. In June 2002, remaining cases were settled in court.
In late 2000, Destiny's Child announced to embark on individual side projects, including releases of solo albums, an idea by their manager. In 2002, Williams released her solo album, Heart to Yours, a contemporary gospel collection. The album reached number one on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart. In the same date Heart to Yours hit stores, Destiny's Child released their official autobiography, Soul Survivors. Rowland collaborated with hip hop artist Nelly on "Dilemma", which became a worldwide hit and earned Rowland a Grammy; she became the first member of Destiny's Child to have achieved a US number-one single. In the same year, Knowles co-starred with Mike Myers in the box-office hit Austin Powers in Goldmember. She recorded her first solo single, "Work It Out", for the film's soundtrack.
To capitalize on the success of "Dilemma", Rowland's solo debut album Simply Deep was brought forward from its early 2003 release to September 2002. Rowland's career took off internationally when Simply Deep hit number one on the UK Albums Chart. In the same year, she made her feature film debut in the horror film Freddy vs. Jason. Meanwhile Knowles made her second film, "The Fighting Temptations", and appeared as featured vocalist on her then-boyfriend Jay-Z's single "'03 Bonnie and Clyde", which paved the way for the release of her debut solo album.
As an upshot from the success of "Dilemma", Knowles' debut album, Dangerously in Love, was postponed many times until June 2003. Knowles was considered the most successful among the three solo releases. Dangerously in Love debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 317,000 copies. It yielded the number-one hits "Crazy in Love", and "Baby Boy"; and the top-five singles "Me, Myself and I" and "Naughty Girl". The album was certified 4x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It remains as Knowles' best-selling album to date, with sales of 4.7 million copies in the United States, as of July 2009. Worldwide, the album has sold more than eleven million copies. Knowles solo debut was well-received by critics, earning five Grammy awards in one night for Dangerously in Love, tying the likes of Norah Jones, Lauryn Hill, and Alicia Keys for most Grammys received in one night by a female artist. In November 2003, Williams appeared as Aida on Broadway. In January 2004, she released her second gospel album, Do You Know.
Dwayne Wiggins, who had produced their first recordings as Destiny's Child, filed suit in 2002 against his former counsel (Bloom, Hergott, Diemer & Cook LLP) seeking $15 million in damages for lessening his contractual agreement with the group without his consent, effectively nullifying his original contract that offered Sony Music/Columbia Destiny's Child's exclusive recording services for an initial seven years, in exchange for "certain royalties", instead of royalties only from the first three albums. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount.
In June 2003, Mathew Knowles announced that Destiny's Child would expand back to a quartet, revealing Knowles' younger sister, Solange, as the latest addition to the group. Destiny's Child had previously recorded songs with Solange and shared the stage when she temporarily replaced Rowland after she broke her toes while performing. Their manager, however, said the idea was used to test reactions from the public. In August 2003, Knowles herself confirmed that her sister would not be joining in the group, and instead promoted Solange's debut album, Solo Star, released in January 2003.
20042005: Destiny Fulfilled and final releases
Three years after the hiatus, members of Destiny's Child reunited to record their fourth and final studio album, Destiny Fulfilled. The album introduces the trio to a harder, "urban" sound, and songs featured are conceptually interrelated. Destiny Fulfilled saw equality in the trio: each member contributed to writing on the majority songs, as well as becoming executive producers aside from their manager.
Released on November 15, 2004, Destiny Fulfilled failed to top Survivor; the album reached number two the following week, selling 497,000 copies in its first week, compared to 663,000 for the previous album. Certified three-time platinum in the United States, it was still one of the best selling albums of 2005, selling over eight million copies worldwide; it pushed the group back into the position of the best-selling female group and American group of the year. Four singles were released from the album: the lead "Lose My Breath", "Soldier", "Cater 2 U" and "Girl"; the first two reached number three in the United States. "Soldier" "Cater 2 U" were certified platinum by the RIAA in 2006.
To promote the album, Destiny's Child embarked on their worldwide concert tour, Destiny Fulfilled... and Lovin' It Tour. On June 11, 2005, while at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain, the group announced before 16,000 people their official breakup. Destiny's Child claimed, however, that naming it Destiny Fulfilled was not a coincidence of sort. Right in the making of the album, they planned to part ways after their fourteen-year career as a group to facilitate their continued pursuit in individual aspirations. Knowles stated that their destinies were already fulfilled. The group exclusively sent a letter to MTV about the decision:
We have been working together as Destiny's Child since we were 9, and touring together since we were 14. After a lot of discussion and some deep soul searching, we realized that our current tour has given us the opportunity to leave Destiny's Child on a high note, united in our friendship and filled with an overwhelming gratitude for our music, our fans, and each other. After all these wonderful years working together, we realized that now is the time to pursue our personal goals and solo efforts in earnest...No matter what happens, we will always love each other as friends and sisters and will always support each other as artists. We want to thank all of our fans for their incredible love and support and hope to see you all again as we continue fulfilling our destinies.
Destiny's Child released their greatest hits album, #1's, on October 25, 2005. The compilation includes their number-one hits including "Independent Woman Part 1", "Say My Name" and "Bootylicious". Three new tracks were recorded for the compilation including "Stand Up For Love", which was recorded for the theme song to the World Children's Day, and "Check on It", a song Knowles recorded for The Pink Panther's soundtrack. #1's was also released as a DualDisc, featuring the same track listing, seven videos of selected songs and a trailer of the concert DVD Destiny's Child: Live in Atlanta. The DVD was filmed during the Atlanta visit of the Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It tour, and was released on March 28, 2006. It has been certified platinum by the RIAA, denoting shipments of over one million units.
The title of the compilation fueled a ripple as it contained number-one singles, although not exclusively. While the liner notes of the compilation does not present any information regarding commercial performances of the songs featured, writer Keith Caulfield of Billboard magazine suggested that the name could only be "a marketing angle". Despite this, journalist Chris Harris of MTV said that it "lives up to its name"; #1's debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with sales of 113,000 in the first week and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). "Stand Up For Love" was released as Destiny's Child's last single.
Disbandment and recent projects
Destiny's Child reunited for a farewell performance at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game on February 19 in Houston, Texas; however, Knowles commented, "It's the last album, but it's not the last show." Their final televised performance was at the Fashion Rocks benefit concert in New York at the same month. On March 28, 2006, Destiny's Child was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the 2,035th recipient of the coveted recognition. At the 2006 BET Awards, Destiny's Child won Best Group, a category they also earned in 2005 and 2001.
After their formal disbandment, all members continued on their solo projects including LeToya Luckett, who released her debut solo album, LeToya, in July 2006, peaking at number-one on the Billboard 200. Knowles co-starred in the 2006 comedy film The Pink Panther, for which she recorded the number-one single "Check on It". She landed a role in Dreamgirls, the film adaptation of the 1981 hit Broadway musical about a 1960s singing group loosely based on Motown all-female group The Supremes. In the film, she portrays the Diana Ross-based character Deena Jones. Inspired by her role in the film, she went to crafting her second solo album, aptly titled B'Day, released on September 4, 2006 in the United States to coincide her birthday. Knowles' music video to her single "Get Me Bodied" features Rowland, Williams, and Knowles' sister Solange. The video was released on the B'Day Anthology video album in April 2007. Knowles said: "It really sets the tone of the video, because you feel like you're there for part of the experience."
In 2007, Rowland released her second solo album, Ms. Kelly. On June 26, 2007, the group made a mini-reunion at the 2007 BET Awards. Knowles performed "Get Me Bodied" with special guests Williams, Solange Knowles, and Mo'Nique. After her performance, Knowles introduced Rowland who performed her single "Like This" with Eve. On the September 2, 2007 Los Angeles stop of The Beyoncé Experience tour, Knowles sang a snippet of "Survivor" with Rowland and Williams. The latter two rendered a "Happy Birthday" song to Knowles. The performance was featured in Knowles' tour DVD, The Beyoncé Experience Live!, released on November 20, 2007. In spring 2008 Rowland released a repackaged, reworked version of her 2007 album under the title Ms. Kelly Deluxe. This in turn spawned a UK Top 20 single with her newly-recorded cover of the Seventies Bobby Womack track Daylight, which featured Gym Class Heroes rapper Travis McCoy. Knowles recorded a cover of Billy Joel's "Honesty" which was included on a Mathew Knowles/Music World CD released only in Japan towards the end of June 2008 to celebrate the tenth-year anniversary of Destiny's Child. Williams released her first non-Gospel third solo album, Unexpected, in October 2008, with several of the tracks boasting an uptempo Euro-dance flavour. The following month, Knowles released her third studio solo album, I Am Sasha Fierce. In the summer of 2009, Williams made history by becoming the first African-American actress to play murderous chorus-girl Roxie Hart in the London West End run of the stage musical Chicago. In June 2010, Rowland released "Commander", the first single from her forthcoming album Here I Am. Beyoncé released the single "Run the World (Girls)" from her fourth studio album, 4, in April 2011.
In 2005, record producer David Foster, his daughter Amy Foster-Gillies and Knowles wrote "Stand Up For Love" as the anthem to the World Children's Day, an annual worldwide event to raise awareness and funds for children causes. Over the past three years, more than $50 million have been raised to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities and other children's organizations. Destiny's Child lent their voices and support as global ambassadors for the 2005 program.
Rowland and Knowles, along with the latter's family, founded the Survivor Foundation, a charitable entity set up for the purpose of providing transitional housing for the Hurricane Katrina victims and storm evacuees in the Houston, Texas area. The Survivor Foundation extended the mission of the Knowles-Rowland Center For Youth, a multi-purpose community outreach facility in downtown Houston. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Destiny's Child canceled a European tour and performed in a concert benefit for the survivors.
Style and themes
Destiny's Child recorded R&B songs with styles that encompasses urban, contemporary, and dance-pop. Destiny's Child revealed that R&B singer Janet Jackson is one of their influences. Ann Powers of The New York Times described Destiny's Child music as "fresh and emotional ... these ladies have the best mixes, the savviest samples and especially the most happening beats." In the same publication, Jon Pareles noted that the sound that defines Destiny's Child, aside from Knowles' voice, "is the way its melodies jump in and out of double-time. Above brittle, syncopated rhythm tracks, quickly articulated verses alternate with smoother choruses." The group usually harmonize their vocals in their songs, especially on the ballads. In most instances of their songs, each member sings one verse and chimes in at the chorus. In Survivor, each members sings lead in the majority of the album: "... everybody is a part of the music ... Everybody is singing lead on every song, and it's so great because now Destiny's Child is at the point vocally and mentally that it should be at." Knowles, however, completely lead songs like "Brown Eyes" and "Dangerously in Love". The group explored their lyrics to man-to-woman relationship, and sisterhood and female empowerment anthems.
Survivor contains themes interpreted by the public as a reference to the group's internal conflict. The title track, "Survivor", which set the theme used throughout the album, features the lyrics "I'm not gonna blast you on the radio ... I'm not gonna lie on you or your family ... I'm not gonna hate you in the magazine" caused LaTavia and LeToya Luckett to file a lawsuit against the group; the lyrics were perceived to be a violation over their agreement following a settlement in court. In an interview, Knowles commented: "The lyrics to the single 'Survivor' are Destiny's Child's story, because we've been through a lot, ... We went through our drama with the members ... Any complications we've had in our 10-year period of time have made us closer and tighter and better." In another song called "Fancy", which contains the lyrics "You always tried to compete with me, girl ... find your own identity", was interpreted by critic David Browne, in his review of the album for Entertainment Weekly magazine, as a response to the lawsuit. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic summarized Survivor as "a determined, bullheaded record, intent on proving Destiny's Child has artistic merit largely because the group survived internal strife. ... It's a record that tries to be a bold statement of purpose, but winds up feeling forced and artificial." Albeit critical praise to Destiny's Child's records, Knowles' close involvement in their projects have generated criticisms. Knowles wrote and co-produced the bulk of Survivor. Browne suggested that her help made Survivor a "premature, but inevitable, growing pains album".
Destiny's Child was compared to The Supremes, a 1960s American female singing group, with which Knowles had been equated to as the Diana Ross, the frontwoman of The Supremes; Knowles, however, dismissed the notion. Ironically, she starred in the film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls as Deena Jones, the front woman of the Dreams, a female singing group based on the Supremes. With Knowles' wide role assumed in the production of Survivor, Gil Kaufman of MTV noted that "it became clear that Beyoncé was emerging as DC's unequivocal musical leader and public face". Her dominance to the creative input in the album made the album "very much her work". For Lola Ogunnaike of The New York Times, "It's been a long-held belief in the music industry that Destiny's Child was little more than a launching pad for Beyoncé Knowles's inevitable solo career."
In the wake of Knowles' Dangerously in Love, rumors spread about possible split of Destiny's Child after each member had experienced success and had ongoing projects. Comparisons were drawn to Justin Timberlake, who did not return to band 'N Sync after his breakthrough debut solo album, Justified. Rowland responded to such rumors, announcing they were back in the studio together. The group claimed that the reunion was destined to happen and that their affinity to each other kept them cohesive. Margeaux Watson, arts editor at Suede magazine, suggests that "the star does not want to appear disloyal to her former partners," and called Beyoncé's decision to return to the group "a charitable one". Knowles' mother, Tina, wrote a 2002-published book, titled Destiny's Style: Bootylicious Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Secrets From Destiny's Child, an account of how fashion had an impact on Destiny's Child's success.
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