Destiny's Revenge


Where Destiny leads

For LeToya, a hit song as a solo artist may be the best revenge

No one would blame the one-named R&B singer LeToya for feeling bitter or cynical about the music business. Six years ago, as a member of Destiny's Child, she suffered one of the worst indignities in pop history.

After mounting tensions between her and the group's manager, Mathew Knowles (who's also, by the way, Beyoncé's father), LeToya switched on her TV one day to see that she and another contentious member of the group had mysteriously vanished from the new "Say My Name" video, replaced by two other girls. This, on a track that not only featured LeToya's vocals but that she co-wrote.

Yet the singer claims she never felt anger, bitterness or a need for vengeance. "It was more just hurt," she insists. "I knew I would never get to see them again. I couldn't call Beyoncé just to talk. The only way of seeing them was in magazines and on TV, showing how successful they were. But I never felt like I didn't want them to be successful."

Not even a little?

"No," LeToya answers.

These days the woman born LeToya Luckett can afford to put a pretty spin on things. The last few weeks, her first solo single, "Torn," has reached No. 2 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop list, and her self-titled debut album hits stores today.

Over the last two years, LeToya's hometown of Houston has exploded into hip-hop's current hot spot. To make the most of it, her album features cameos from hot local rappers like Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Bun B and Slim Thug. Just as Ciara was the first to marry R&B to Atlanta's "crunk" sound, now LeToya is the first to join R&B to Houston's "chopped and screwed" style. "I used to always hear that sound in the local clubs," says LeToya. "Now it's heard everywhere."

It was in a Houston grade school that LeToya first met Beyoncé. She says she always wanted to be in a group like Destiny's Child and never saw herself as a solo artist. Ergo, she claims the rumors that she wanted so sing more leads in Destiny are false. "Everyone knew their role," she says. "I was singing support."

Instead, she says, the tensions came because Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland got to see their families all the time (since their relatives were all involved with the group). She and the other expelled member (LaTavia Robertson) never got to see theirs.

After the Destiny dustup, LeToya formed a group with Robertson called Angel. But, she says, "things weren't organized. We never even got a manager."

LeToya used some of her Destiny royalties to open a clothing store in Houston (which carries Beyoncé's fashion line). Still, she knew she'd sing again one day.

When she hooked up with an L.A. management company, LeToya thought they'd connect her with another group. Instead, they encouraged her to go solo. Her demos with them led to a deal with Capitol Records.

Recently, LeToya says she ran into Beyoncé at a show "and we all congratulated each other. Then we talked about shoes and handbags. It was all good." It's amazing what having your own hit can do.

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