Wood-shedding by recording artists in pop music culture is as rare as Star Trek's Captain Kirk turning down sex with an alien female. So it's refreshing that Destiny's Child, a Houston-based R&B quartet, took the studied way to success.
Beyoncé, Kelly, LaTavia and LeToya--all in their late teens--first embarked on their recording career some eight years ago, with all the levity you'd expect from a starry-eyed group of youngsters. But the foursome quickly learned that it takes more than just pretty looks, raw talent and a dream to make it into the big time.
"We wanted to be professional singers, but we weren't quite ready," shares LaTavia, "So our manager sent us to a sort of artist development boot camp, which really helped us with our skills and focus."
The four young women of Destiny's Child--who name Celine Dion, Elton John and Janet Jackson among their musical influences --knew they had commercial potential when they were selected to compete on the TV talent show Star Search. Says Beyoncé, "We had sent them a tape and they replied with a letter inviting us to do the show down in Orlando. We were all 10 and 11 back then and really nervous." Destiny's Child didn't win the Star Search, competition, but nevertheless, Beyoncé says the came away from the experience "with a greater commitment to becoming more serious about our singing."
Eventually their hard work and perseverence paid off, in the form of a label deal with Columbia Records and a self-titled debut album. Destiny's Child includes the production savvy of such notable studio-meisters as the Fugees' Wyclef Jean, So So Def's Jermaine Dupri and New Orleans rapper Master P--all of whom also lend their vocal talents to the album. Tony Toni Tone's Dwayne Wiggins contributes four tracks as well, including "Killing Time," which also appeared on Men In Black: The Album.
The girl-group's first single "No No No," a midtempo delight all about the foolish games young lovers play, has already made a splash on the charts and at radio. But of particular interest is the single's upbeat remix, which was produced by Wyclef Jean, who adds greater dimension to the lightweight puppy-love tune.
"That's the thing about this album," comments Kelly. "The producers are all so different that it makes for a good mixture--like a hot bowl of gumbo."
But Destiny's Child aren't all about big production values--they can deliver the goods onstage, too, as a recent Los Angeles showcase readily demonstrated. The leather-clad quartet's polished choreography and soothing harmonies wowed the normally jaded music industry crowd in attendance, proving that this "baby act" can play to an audience at a skill level normally reserved for more tenured performers.
"It's all part of the payoff for working so hard in the beginning," reports LeToya. "It's one of the best things about working in this business--the fact that you can raise the spirits of concertgoers with the energy that you bring during a show. It's one of the things that we live for."