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Destiny’s Child

Destiny’s Child was an American R&B girl group whose final, and perhaps most recognizable, line-up comprised Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. Formed in 1990 in Houston, Texas, Destiny’s Child members began their musical endeavors as Girl’s Tyme comprising, among others, Knowles, Rowland, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett. After years of limited success, they were signed to Columbia Records as Destiny’s Child. 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 from the group’s manager Mathew Knowles, citing favoritism of Knowles and Rowland, his daughter and niece, respectively.

Both Roberson and Luckett were soon replaced with Williams and Farrah Franklin; however, in 2000, Franklin was dismissed, 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). Destiny’s Child has sold more than 50 million records worldwide to date. Billboard magazine ranks the group as one of the greatest musical trios of all time, the ninth most successful artist/band of the 2000s, and placed the group 68th in its All-Time Hot 100 Artists list in 2008. 

1990–97: Early beginnings and Girl’s Tyme

In 1990, Beyoncé Knowles met rapper LaTavia Roberson while auditioning 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’s house because of family issues, joined them in 1992. 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’s 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’s father, Mathew, voluntarily dedicated his time to manage them. Mathew Knowles cut down the original lineup to four, with the removal 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’s 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.

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’s 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. Mathew Knowles helped in negotiating a record deal with Columbia Records which signed the group that same year. Prior to signing with Columbia, the group had recorded several tracks in Oakland, California produced by D’wayne 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.

1998–2000: Breakthrough and lineup changes

Destiny’s Child released their self-titled debut album in the United States on February 17, 1998, featuring productions by Tim & Bob, 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 choreographer Braden Larson aka “Peanut Orlando”, and was flown to Houston where she stayed with the Knowles family.

In March 2000, Roberson and Luckett filed a lawsuit against Mathew Knowles and their former bandmates for breach of partnership and fiduciary duties. Following the suit, both sides were disparaging towards each other in the media.Five months after joining, Franklin left the group. The remaining members claimed that this was 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 departed due to the fact of their record company issues. 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 from 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.

 

2001–03: Survivor, subsequent releases, hiatus and side projects

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 the wake of the September 11 attacks, Destiny’s Child canceled a European tour and performed in a concert benefit for the survivors. 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

 

 

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