Does your kid want to be the next Beyoncé? You might need to pay attention to what her longtime best friend and Destiny’s Child group mate Kelly Rowland has to say about what it really takes.
At a March South by Southwest interview regarding the new BET talent search docuseries, Chasing Destiny, Rowland laid out the daily routine she, Beyoncé Knowles and other pre-teen members of the formative group Girls Tyme endured during sweltering Houston summers in the early ‘90s.
“We would wake up, jog, sing and jog, do voice lessons individually and collectively, watch tapes of legends and talk about it, go to the backyard with heels on and rehearse in heels,” Rowland said.
“We thought it was so fly that En Vogue could dance in heels, so we had to do it. At 12 years old.”
This was part of a kind of girl-group gauntlet designed by Beyoncé’s dad, Mathew Knowles, in order to prepare Girls Tyme for world domination.
They eventually achieved something like it after several name and lineup changes, and a loss on Star Search. But the constants throughout, from the preteen squad to the chart-topping trio that was Destiny’s Child, were Kelly and Beyoncé, goofy, good-natured and highly driven triple threats.
“We were some focused kids,” Rowland said. “Like, we were weirdos about it. Militant. It was what we woke up on, were excited about, ate, slept, breathed.”
The work ethic developed during those days jogging, singing and high-heel dancing in back yards? It was permanently ingrained. No shock, there: Beyoncé had been working with a performance tutor since she could walk and talk.
One of the most successful groups of all time with many millions of records sold, Destiny’s Child would instill the ladies with even more creative drive and self-possession.
Rowland has enjoyed diverse and provocative solo hits (“Motivation,” “When Love Takes Over”) and has popped up on screens large and small . After rounding out Destiny’s Child for its final two and most successful albums, Michelle Williams has starred in Broadway productions and made hit solo gospel albums.
Beyoncé, of course, is Beyoncé. Since proving her solo pop mettle in 2003 with the smash, “Crazy in Love,” her projects have continued to get grander and more ambitious in scope. Her latest audio-visual opus Lemonade – about the woes of marriage and infidelity – dominates the national conversation even though it followed the foundation-shaking death of Prince and preceded the Twitter-consuming release of Drake’s new LP.
We could consider Beyoncé a better adjusted, more self aware Michael Jackson – a prodigious talent who can still influence culture at large with smartly written and obsessively produced media.
Before ‘Yoncé’s Formation Tour takes over AT&T Stadium on May 9, it’s important to realize that she’s been preparing for this level of fame for literally her entire life, through the childhood rehearsals, the label and lineup woes with her group, struggles for creative independence, motherhood and what we now know to be a challenging marriage to Jay Z.
The defining Destiny’s Child album Survivor came out a full 15 years ago. Just out of their teen years, Beyoncé and company were already conveying their narrative and their worldview through music. Look at what she’s done since and how it’s closely mirrored her personal experience, no matter how many producers and writers have worked with her.
She poured elements of her own backstory into her lead role in 2006’s endlessly entertaining movie adaptation of Dreamgirls. The 2008 split album I Am … Sasha Fierce offered songs from her dueling sweet and sassy personas. 2011’s “Run the World (Girls)” was highly relevant in both its cutting-edge sound and its message of empowerment.
And the last two albums, 2013’s Beyoncé and the recent Lemonade, were relative surprises that seemed to instantly shift pop’s paradigm, and offered unflinching looks at the artist’s personal life.
What the 34-year-old Texan has accomplished in the last two decades is nothing less than a blueprint for future pop stars, and every step is crucial.
The prep for and time with Destiny’s Child might actually be the most important experience in the long run. Not only did Beyoncé face rejection, but she learned the value of teamwork and a next-level work ethic.
Those are the kinds of experiences Rowland is trying to give the next generation of girl-group wannabes on Chasing Destiny, which airs Tuesday nights on BET.
“I don’t want reality stars,” Rowland tells the camera in the impressively authentic talent search series. “I want stars.”
The show’s intensity is no doubt modeled after that boot camp she and Beyoncé endured so many years ago. But these new girls are getting a later start, in a social climate more obsessed with selfies than group choreography.
We’ll see what happens, but before that, we’ll be at AT&T Stadium on May 9, taking in the blueprint once more.