Say their name? It was hard to do anything but this year as Destiny’s Child carved out spots on both the pop and R&B charts. A hyperstylized mix of old-school girl group and newfangled fem-pop, DC’s honey-soaked cautions (”Try to control me, boy, you get dismissed/Always 50-50 in relationships”) fueled the multiplatinum The Writing’s on the Wall as well as the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack. More amazing, the group endured a personnel crisis that had as much backstabbing as an episode of Survivor.
In February, hot on the heels of their surprise Grammy nominations for ”Bills, Bills, Bills,” two of Destiny’s original children, LaTavia Roberson, 19, and LeToya Luckett, 19, were dismissed by group manager Mathew Knowles after the twosome tried to fire him for favoring his daughter, lead singer Beyonce, 19. (Knowles had founded the Houston-based group as a vehicle for Beyonce in 1995.) Faster than you could say ”bling bling,” backup singers Farrah Franklin, 19, and Michelle Williams, 20, became the new honeys making money alongside Knowles and Kelly Rowland, 19. But less than six months later, Franklin was bounced for allegedly missing several of the group’s promotional appearances. (Lawsuits from Roberson and Luckett are pending.)
These kinds of musical chairs usually sink a girl group (En Vogue springs to mind), but that doesn’t appear to be part of this group’s…well, destiny. Despite the revolving door, their pop cred has managed to remain intact. ”People know we’re talented. We really have voices,” insists Knowles. Adds Rodney Jerkins, who produced the No. 1 single ”Say My Name,” ”It’s unfortunate the way the members keep moving around — but they are always able to get things done.” And even though there are now whispers of a solo career for Beyonce, who cowrote and coproduced the group’s latest smash, ”Independent Women Part I,” the 21st-century diva insists her focus is on Destiny’s third album, due out in February: ”I can’t imagine performing without my girls.” My girls? Assures Rowland, who is already pursuing solo projects, ”Destiny’s Child always comes first.” At least this year.