This urban R&B quartet was formed by Beyonce Knowles (b. 4 September 1981, Houston, Texas, USA), LeToya Luckett (b. 11 March 1981, Houston, Texas, USA), LaTavia Roberson (b. 1 November 1981, Houston, Texas, USA) and Kelendria Rowland (b. 11 February 1981, Houston, Texas, USA).
Knowles and Roberson first began singing together when they were only 10 years old. Rowland joined the duo in 1992, with Luckett completing the line-up the following year. The quartet adopted their biblically inspired name from a chapter in the Book Of Isaiah. Knowles' father became their manager and set about grooming the quartet for success. They gained a strong local following with their street cool image and impressive vocal harmonies, leading to opening slots for big name acts including Immature, SWV and Dru Hill.
Signed to Columbia Records in 1997 their breakthrough came when the track 'Killing Time' appeared on The Men In Black soundtrack. Their self-titled debut, released in 1998, featured collaborations with leading R&B/hip-hop producers Timbaland, R. Kelly, Wyclef Jean and Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott. The funky 'No No No' reached both the US and UK Top 10, and was followed by further hits including 'With Me' and 'Get On The Bus', the latter taken from the Why Do Fools Fall In Love? soundtrack.
The Writing's On The Wall was premiered by 'Bills, Bills, Bills', a track which echoed the men-bashing sentiments of TLC 's massive summer hit 'No Scrubs', and even featured the same producer (Kevin She'kspere Briggs). The song provided the quartet with their first US chart-topper in July 1999, and also reached the UK Top 10. The album featured a greater creative input from the quartet, although they still relied on a heavyweight production crew including Rodney Jerkins, Missy Elliott, Chad Elliot, and Dwayne Wiggins of Tony! Toni! Tone!
Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams joined the group in February 2000 to replace the departing Roberson and Luckett. A month later the quartet topped the US Hot 100 with 'Say My Name'. Despite ongoing personnel problems, with Franklin leaving in August, the group enjoyed further transatlantic hits with 'Jumpin', Jumpin'' and 'Independent Women Part 1', the latter a transatlantic chart-topper taken from the soundtrack of Charlie's Angels.