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Members include Farrah Franklin (joined group, 2000; left group, 2000); Beyoncé Knowles (daughter of Mathew and Tina Knowles); LaToya Luckett (left group, 1999); LaTavia Roberson (left group, 1999); Kelly Rowland (born Kelendria Rowland; daughter of Doris Lovett); Michelle Williams (joined group, 2000). Addresses: Record company--Columbia Records, 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211. Management--Mathew Knowles, Houston, TX. Website--Destiny's Child Official Website: http://www.destinyschild.com.

Like the female vocal group with whom it's often compared, the Supremes, Destiny's Child has experienced volatile shifts in its lineup while earning and retaining tremendous popularity for the group's blending of musical styles, social commentary, physical beauty, and fashion statements. Initially a quartet comprised of Houston, Texas, natives Beyoncé Knowles, LaToya Luckett, Kelly Rowland, and LaTavia Roberson, Destiny's Child began in the early 1990s as a group of preteen women singing rhythm-and-blues, gospel, and hip-hop harmonies in such acts as Something Fresh, Cliché, the Dolls, and Destiny, before becoming Destiny's Child in 1995. Knowles' father, Mathew, became the group's manager. Tina Knowles, Mathew's wife and Beyoncé's mother, became the group's stylist. The Knowleses met Rowland when she belonged to one of the musical groups that Beyoncé was a member of as a preteen. Rowland's mother, Doris Lovett, was a nanny who often lived in other families' homes and brought her daughter along. She wanted a more stable home for Rowland, so the Knowleses took her in when she was nine years old.

The group began to attract a loyal local following performing around the Houston area. The women gained prominence from an appearance on the television show Star Searchwhen they were ten- and eleven-year-olds. Although they did not win, the appearance won them opening stints for such acts as Dru Hill and Immature. Signed to Columbia Records in 1996, the quartet released the song "Killing Time" on the soundtrack for the film Men in Black, which was released in 1997. The song also appears on the group's self-titled debut release, which features their first hit single, "No, No, No," produced by Wyclef Jean. Similarly, the group recorded the Timbaland-produced "Get on the Bus" for the Why Do Fools Fall in Love?film soundtrack. The song became one of the group's biggest European hits. In Europe, they headlined to sold-out arenas, at one point performing 18 shows in 17 days.

Found Breakthrough Success

The group toured extensively throughout 1998 to promote Destiny's Child,supporting such acts as Boyz II Men, K-Ci & Jo Jo, and Uncle Sam. But their breakthrough success came after the group's 1999 release, The Writing's on the Wall. Debuting at number six on the Billboard200 album chart, the group's sophomore effort sold more than nine million copies worldwide. For the remainder of 1999, Destiny's Child enjoyed sales and chart success. Nine months after its release, the album advanced to number five on the Billboard 200 album chart, and the song "Bills, Bills, Bills" spent nine weeks as the number one single on the Billboard singles chart. Featuring production and writing contributions from Rodney Jenkins and Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, the latter who performed similar duties for TLC's hit single, "No Scrubs," The Writing's on the Wall generated three top ten hits on the Billboard R&B singles chart. Two other singles from The Writing's on the Wall, "Jumpin Jumpin" and "Say My Name," became radio staples, topping the Hot 100 and the R&B singles charts. The song "Say My Name," Rolling Stonecritic Rob Sheffield noted, "was a hypnotic loop of sex and dread, twitching with unbearable lust while the lyrics spilled near-psychotic paranoia, and the whole song simmered until you didn't think you'd ever get out of it alive--no wonder Elvis Costello was a fan." The group also guest-starred on the television situation comedy The Smart Guy.The success of their first two efforts resulted in Destiny's Child being awarded a total of 13 gold, platinum, and multiplatinum certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America for "No, No, No" (gold, platinum), Destiny's Child (gold, platinum), "Bills, Bills, Bills" (gold), "Say My Name" (gold) and The Writing's on the Wall (gold, six-times platinum).

In March of 2000, however, Destiny's Child was wracked with personnel shifts that sometimes caused journalists and listeners to focus on the group's lineup more than their music. Mathew Knowles was considered by Roberson and Luckett to be more concerned with advancing his daughter's career than in the group's future. When the pair reached the age of 18, they exercised their legal right to acquire new management, which resulted in their dismissal from the group. Luckett told Teen People that she knew she and Roberson were no longer in the group when she heard that the "Say My Name" video was filmed without their participation. Luckett and Roberson filed suit against Destiny's Child, claiming a breach in the group's partnership agreement. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount, and Luckett and Roberson subsequently formed another group, Angel. Knowles and Rowland, on the other hand, drafted Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin the following February to replace Luckett and Roberson. Williams, who had previously sung backup with R&B singer Monica, debuted with Destiny's Child in the "Say My Name" video. Franklin had danced in the group's "Bills, Bills, Bills" video. Within five months, however, Franklin also was out of the group. She had reportedly missed several live performances with the group, which is known for their dedication to long, arduous work schedules. Franklin told Teen People:"I never quit Destiny's Child. I actually found out that I was no longer in the group on MTV. No one contacted me and told me that I was out of Destiny's Child." Knowles countered: "It wasn't a management decision; it was a group decision." The group decided to go forward as a trio comprised of Knowles, Rowland, and Williams.

Despite the controversies of the revolving lineup, Destiny's Child continued to promote The Writing's on the Wall throughout 2000, touring as a supporting act for Christina Aguilera's summer tour and appearing on the VH1 Divas 2000 Tribute to Diana Ross. The trio also recorded "Independent Women, Part I" which appeared on the film soundtrack of Charlie's Angels.The song became one of the act's biggest hits, garnering extensive airplay well after the film left theater screens.

New Focus as Trio

Co-opting the title of the Genesis album And Then There Were Three (named after the departures of several founding members in the mid 1970s, including lead vocalist Peter Gabriel), the press focused on Destiny's Child's new status as a trio. The threesome performed at the inauguration ceremony for fellow Texan George W. Bush in January of 2001. In the meantime, nearly nonstop touring combined with immense radio and video airplay kept the group's name and faces familiar with music fans. The youth and physical attractiveness of its remaining members also made the group mainstays of youthful fashion and lifestyle magazines. In May of 2001, Destiny's Child released their third full-length musical recording, Survivor, to speculation that the recording's title referred to the CBS television series where contestants competing in a remote location vote off other contestants until only one "survivor" remains. Rolling Stone's Jancee Dunn wrote that the album's title was "named after Beyoncé heard a radio DJ chortling that Destiny's Child was just like the TV show." "The lyrics to the single 'Survivor' are Destiny's Child's story, because we've been through a lot," Knowles told Dunn. "We went through a lot of drama with the members, and everybody was like, 'Oh, well, no more Destiny's Child.' Well, we sold even more records after all the changes. Any complications we've had in our ten-year period of time have made us closer and tighter and better."

Acknowledging its three-woman lineup, Survivor features a song entitled "DC-3," which is how the remaining members refer to the group. As if to emphasize the trio's solidarity and downplay rumors that Knowles was preparing for a solo career, the album also features lead vocals performed by all three remaining members. These songs include light-hearted excursions into accepting aspects of an individual's physique, such as "Bootylicious," a song Williams told Dunn is about "If you've got a big booty, then it's OK." "Apple Pie a la Mode" is a female appreciation of a physically attractive young man. On a more serious note, Survivor includes a song, "Story of Beauty," that advises the victim of childhood sexual abuse that she is not at fault and can go on with her life. The trio's acknowledged Christian faith is confirmed by the album's inclusion of "Gospel Medley."

Survivors of Personnel Turmoil

Detroit Free Pressmusic critic Kelley L. Carter noted that Survivormakes numerous references to the lineup changes: "The title track chronicles the turmoil, struggle and eventual success the group had [in 2000].... The wise listener will easily notice that the lyrics of several of the songs, including 'Happy Face,' 'Fancy,' and 'Gospel Medley,' focus on that DC-3 talent shake-up of 2000. Founding members Knowles and Kelly Rowland have said they felt as if they came out of a bad ten-year marriage." Carter concluded: "It's still music that you can shake to and throw your hands up with." Rolling Stonecritic Sheffield concurred: "But nobody would care about the backstage drama if the music didn't rock, and as Survivor proves, Destiny's Child are the great pop group of the moment, ruling the radio with fluid R&B harmonies, exotic techno beats and more floss than the American Dental Association." Co-production responsibilities for Survivorwere handled by Beyoncé Knowles, who appropriated the Bee Gee-written, Samantha Sang disco hit "Emotion" and the guitar lead from the Stevie Nicks song "Edge of Seventeen." The recording features another version of the group's hit, "Independent Women, Part I" from Charlie's Angels,the new version entitled "Independent Women, Part II." In May of 2001, Knowles also debuted as the lead character in MTV's Hip Hopera: Carmen,based on Bizet's opera Carmen. Destiny's Child also confirmed their stature as a popular culture phenomenon when Rolling Stone magazine selected the group to adorn their May 2001 cover. The group also released a DVD, The Platinum's on the Wall, in 2001, featuring six music videos. Revolver critic Cheryl Tan acknowledged that all of the videos could have been taped from television and faulted the release for failing to provide live footage, biographical documentary, "or at least one juicy behind-the-scenes morsel."

Plans are under way for the members of Destiny's Child to release solo albums. Knowles told Teen People, "We sat down and agreed on what would be best for Destiny's Child, which is to [release the works] all at the same time." Besides her solo album, Knowles planned to write and produce for other musicians.

by Bruce Walker

Destiny's Child's Career

Group formed in Houston, TX, c. 1990; signed with Columbia Records, 1996; contributed to Men in Blackfilm soundtrack, 1997; released Destiny's Child, 1998; contributed to Why Do Fools Fall in Love?and Life soundtracks, released The Writing's on the Wall, 1999; contributed to Romeo Must Die and Charlie's Angelssoundtracks, 2000; released Survivor, 2001.

Destiny's Child's Awards

Best R&B Soul Single (Group), "Say My Name" and Best R&B Soul Album of the Year (Group), The Writing's on the Wall, 6th Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards; NAACP Image Award, Outstanding Duo or Group, The Writing's on the Wall, 2000; Hot 100 Singles Artist Of The Year and Hot 100 Singles Duo/Group Of The Year, Billboard Music Awards, 2000; Favorite Band, Duo or Group (Soul/Rhythm & Blues Music) Award, American Music Awards, 2001; Grammy Award, Best R&B Song for "Say My Name," 2000; Grammy Award, Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group for "Say My Name," 2000; U.S. platinum certification for The Writing's on the Wall, 2000; Sammy Davis, Jr. Award for Entertainer Of The Year, Soul Train Awards, 2001.

Famous Works

Recent Updates

October 2003: Michelle Williams was selected to play the Nubian princess Aida in Aida. She will join the long-running musical on November 18, 2003. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, October 22, 2003.

June 2004: Destiny's Child returned to the recording studio and planned a tour after a two-year lapse. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, June 28, 2004.

December 8, 2004: Destiny's Child won the Artist Achievement Award at the Billboard Music Awards. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/awards/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000734365, December 9, 2004.

June 11, 2005: Destiny's Child announced its pending breakup at the end of the Destiny Fulfilled tour. Source: Entertainment Weekly, www.ew.com/ew/report/0,6115,1071361_4_0_,00.html, July 3, 2005.

June 28, 2005: Destiny's Child won the BET Award for best vocal group. Source: chiff.com, www.chiff.com/pop-culture/bet-awards.htm, August 2, 2005.

November 22, 2005: Destiny's Child won two American Music Awards, including favorite R&B album for Destiny Fulfilled, and favorite R&B band, duo, or group. Source: 2005 American Music Awards, http://abc.go.com/primetime/ama05/index.html, November 27, 2005.

October 28, 2005: Williams and her boyfriend, actor Heath Ledger, welcomed the birth of their daughter, Matilda. Source: Entertainment Weekly, November 11, 2005, p. 20.

December 9, 2005: Williams starred in Brokeback Mountain, which was released by River Road Entertainment. Source: New York Times, http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=301840, December 30, 2005.

May 2006: Williams signed to star in I'm Not There, which is based on the life of Bob Dylan. Source: USA Today, www.usatoday.com/life/digest.htm, May 27, 2006.

Further Reading


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