Sunday, August 31, 2003

It was standing street only Friday to see R&B-pop, mega group Destiny’s Child at the Dream nightclub summer concert festival. The show’s promotion of Beyonce as the headliner, whose solo album now sits atop the Billboard charts, and the other members of the superstar group — Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, each with recent solo releases — did not prepare the crowd for the number of acts in attendance.

Matthew Knowles, manager and CEO of Destiny’s Child’s record label, Music World Entertainment, as well as being the father of Beyonce and uncle of Miss Rowland — enthralled the massive crowd of more than 15,000, with five more acts signed to his label.

Hip-hop, gospel, R&B and dance-hall reggae all were part of the show, although at times the audience clearly felt they were not to be mixed.

The first act PBT, two rappers from Mississippi, was not well received.

“I hope this doesn’t become a trend for the night,” Mr. Knowles said.

Fortunately it wouldn’t. And by evening’s end, the audience would be giving him a standing ovation.

The popular jazz duo Impromptu, from Big3 Records, moved the crowd with their harmonies and removed the bad taste left by PBT.

Next up was Ramiyah, four young girls from Detroit, who shocked the young crowd with their inspirational/gospel lyrics with hard bass beats when they hit the stage.

The quartet — Sherise, Tracy, DeLaurian and Stephanie, recently signed by Mr. Knowles — are reminiscent to the original look and feel of Destiny’s Child and even fooled some in attendance. Their debut album is only in a small number of stores but will go national next month, said Stephanie the oldest member of the group.

Solange Knowles, the younger sister of Beyonce, performed three songs from her debut album “Solo Star.”

The 18-year-old is still hoping to achieve the success her sister enjoys, but isn’t quite there yet. Music World insiders told The Washington Times that resentment is stirring between Solange and her family for what she believes is a lack of promotion for her music.

Although the crowd amped up the decibels cheering for all the performers, the show didn’t really get started until “Dutty Rocker” Sean Paul walked through a misty haze blown on stage. Mr. Paul, who hails from Jamaica, has been attributed with bringing dance hall reggae back from the brink with his smash album “Dutty Rock.”

Then finally, Destiny’s Child took the stage amid a brilliant pyrotechnic display.

Beyonce, as always, took the lead belting out vocals from the song she wrote for the “Charlie’s Angels” soundtrack, “Independent Women.”

The audience, by now lathered up, found it nearly impossible to contain themselves. The show continued with the group singing four more songs from three of their albums.

Miss Williams, Miss Rowland and Beyonce all would take the stage alone and sing a few tunes from their solo albums, before returning as a trio to close the show with “Survivor,” the title track from their last album.

Though Destiny’s Child now enjoys success, it has taken Mr. Knowles, the trio’s manager, 13 years to see the fulfillment of his dreams: a multimillion-dollar family business.

“We started in 1990; I came from 20 years in corporate America with Xerox and I used those same basic principals in our business,” Mr. Knowles said.

“We just merged markets and music.”

His wife, Tina, is the stylist for the various acts. The two have been priming their daughters, Beyonce and Solange, for stardom since childhood.

Destiny’s Child has become known for its chart-topping hits since the group’s self-titled debut LP hit record stores in 1998.

“I learned early on that you have to have great songs, and that is what we focus on making and promoting great songs,” Mr. Knowles said.

The formula has paid off in spades.

Destiny’s Child, alone, has sold nearly 35 million copies worldwide, while the three solo acts spawned from the group have each gone platinum, selling a minimum of 1 million recordings.

Still, the journey to fame has had its share of hardships.

Two of the group’s original members, LaTavia Roberson — who met Beyonc while auditioning for a children’s group, and LeToya Luckett — left in 2000 and sued Mr. Knowles for breach of contract. The case was settled out of court and Mr. Knowles refused to discuss the matter, except to say, “That is all behind us, we survived and moved on.”

Meanwhile, both Miss Rowland and Beyonce have also branched out into films. Last year, Beyonce appeared in “Austin Powers: Gold Member” and Miss Rowland co-stars in “Freddy vs. Jason,” currently in theaters.

Beyonce, the winner of three MTV Video Music Awards last week, will next co-star with Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. in “The Fighting Temptations,” which arrives in theaters Sept. 19.

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