After witnessing firsthand the rise of one of the biggest groups in history, Mathew Knowles talks EXCLUSIVELY with us about the motivation behind his new book, the story of the group before Destiny’s Child, and more.
“I don’t do my head. I do my heart,” says Mathew Knowles at the start of his EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife. He’s right about to conduct a TED Talk in Dallas, Texas, and he has yet to decide on a subject. Having conducted numerous speaking engagements throughout his life and career, Knowles is not at a loss for material. For this talk, he could decide to speak about the decision to leave his corporate life at Xerox to pursue his passion in music and how that led him to launch Music World Entertainment, a music and entertainment conglomerate with more than 300 million worldwide record sales. He could share the lessons he learned from being one of the rare, few men to battle breast cancer.
He could, of course, could also dig into his family history and tell stories about his children, Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, and what he learned when he managed Destiny’s Child. Eventually, he’ll let those in Dallas decide. “I read the room,” he says, “and what I think the room is. I have five things I can talk about and I just leave it up to this. It’s almost like a spiritual moment when I’m quiet, and I kind of read the room, and literally, when I walk on the stage, it’s something about silence.”
“One of [the talks] is that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey or I might do the DNA of achievers,” he reveals. Both topics – fittingly enough – are woven throughout the pages of his book, Destiny’s Child: The Untold Story. From the moment when Mathew and Tina Knowles first knew their daughter Beyoncé had a gift for music to the formation of Girls Tyme to their now-historic appearance on Star Search, The Untold Story tells the origin of Destiny’s Child from the perspective of those who watched them become one of the biggest groups in the world.
“Everybody likes the beginning of how it started, the whole Star Search that some people don’t know. Think American Idol,” Mathew tells HollywoodLife. “People ask me about Solange all the time. ‘Did she want to be in a group or not?’ And I share with them, Solange was very adamant that she did not want to be in a group. Most people didn’t know, at 13 she was the lead dancer for Destiny’s Child. I kept asking her and wanting her. And actually went out and got Solange on The Proud Family animation series, cartoon series, and it’s Solange featuring Destiny’s Child. And it was my last-ditch effort in hoping that experience in the studio and experience with promoting it would convince her. But she’s a lot like me, Solange. And so she said, ‘No, Dad, I want to be solo. And on top of that, she then named her first album, Solo Star. If that wasn’t enough, if I didn’t get it, she made sure I got it.”
Mathew’s cancer scare was, as he puts it, was “what got me to really complete this book. I had started it and it was kind of in my head. I would stop and start, but that’s what really got my attention.” The other motivation behind putting together Destiny’s Child: The Untold Story was to get the story straight.
“This last year and a half, I’ve just read so many variations of what folks thought or think happened with Destiny’s Child. That really had it all wrong. And part of this project was just to correct all the misinformation that’s out there about how Destiny’s Child came about.” To do this, Mathew enlisted the help of producers, managers, music executives, and more “major players” who witnessed the nearly 20-year career of Destiny’s Child.
“I wanted to have the people who were there, like Arne Frager. Many people, they just think one day Destiny’s Child were stars. Well, in 1992, he signed these girls to their first deal and lost money on them,” says Knowles. “I could tell, with this book, how it really got started and what the roles of the people played.”
“I played the role of purely a dad in the beginning,” he adds. “All I wanted to do was drop Beyoncé off, go play basketball, go pick her up and ask her, ‘Did you have a good time? Do you want to go get something to eat?’ That’s all it was. And it was not until I went down to Orlando with the then managers and a couple of parents and my job was to bring the wardrobe — because they all thought they were going to win for a month on Star Search. We didn’t even understand at that time that they tape two or three times a day, they can do a month in a week. So, we brought a month’s worth of clothes. So naive. And so, when they lost, I just asked Ed McMahon, ‘What should I do?’ And that’s when he said, ‘Hey man, the people that lose, I don’t understand this, on my own show, the people that lose go on to be great. The people that consistently win, we never hear of them.’”
For a moment, it seemed as if no one was ever going to hear Girls Tyme. While tracks like “Say My Name,” “Independent Women Part I,” “Survivor,” and “Bootylicious” have been etched into the worldwide pop-culture consciousness, very few heard the unreleased Girls Tyme album until it was shared to streaming services along with the release of the book.
“The album was is it was in Sausalito, California, with Arne Frager, who their first record deal was with,” Knowles tells HollywoodLife. “And in 2000, I paid Arne $100,000 for the master and the publishing. And I held on to it until I thought it was the appropriate time to release it. And I thought the appropriate time was when I released the book. It was the appropriate time. Beyoncé and Kelly [Rowland], the real mainstays of Destiny’s Child, they were in this group. The album is manly Beyoncé, a young lady named Ashley Davis who went on to be a protege of Prince, went on to go to finals of the voice and Kelly Rowlands. So, I decided to put it out.”
When reviewing the recordings, there were a few songs that Mathew considered could have been a hit, had things been different. “One is a ballad, ‘Sunshine,’ a beautiful, beautiful ballad. It’s the one they should have done on Star Search. Had their then managers listened to me, it may have been a different story. So in retrospect, I’m glad they did. And then there was a song made in about 1996, a remake of ‘I Want To Be Where You Are’ by Michael Jackson.”
While the book tells the Untold Story, Mathew tells us that he hasn’t shared the complete story – yet. “There definitely will be a second installment. Some of the things, quite frankly, it’s been so much going back to 1992, and it was just some things I have forgotten and some things I purposely didn’t want to say until the second installment.” As to when fans can expect that book to be released, it may be a moment. His next two stories will be more “academic geared,” as he aims to share his experience in both artist management and entrepreneurship. On top of that, he still needs to manage Destiny’s Child.
“There are a number of Destiny’s Child projects in the next two to three years we’ll be watching. And I continuously stress — most people don’t realize that I still manage Destiny’s Child. And it’s not a week that passed by that I’m not in conversations about licensing their songs or some other dialogue about Destiny’s Child. Folks think that when you’re the number one female group of all times, there’s a lot of business that is in perpetuity and I still am the manager of the girls. So, I have that job.”
“I’m fueled by my passion, and I do sleep well because I’m fueled by my passion,” he says when asked if he ever finds a moment to catch some shuteye. “Something someone told me a long time ago, they said, ‘Knowles, do you know what the word history really means?’ I said, ‘Well, it’s talking about things in the past.’ They said, ‘No, Knowles, it’s somebody telling his story. And if you don’t tell your story, somebody will tell it wrong.’ So that’s what I’m doing: his-story.”
To purchase Destiny’s Child The Untold Story and Girls Tyme album, visit: https://mathewknowles.com