DULUTH, Minn., June 12 (UPI) -- Beyonce Knowles confesses that she's spent a bit more time rehearsing for her upcoming pay-per-view concert than her group, the multi-platinum pop/R&B trio Destiny's Child, usually does in preparation for its concerts.
"We've always rushed so much and had so many things going on at the same time," Knowles, 21, says. "This kind of (rehearsal) is something I've never gotten an opportunity to do before.
"I wanted to make sure I had more time, so I could do everything I always wanted to do."
"Beyonce Knowles, Friends and Family" took place Saturday during the Ford Centennial Celebration at the Ford Motor Company's Henry Ford II World Center in Dearborn, Mich. Along with recent appearances on VH1's "Divas Live" and the MTV Movie Awards, the concert is an integral part of the promotional campaign for Knowles' first solo album, "Dangerously In Love," which hits stores on June 24.
With that in mind Knowles is offering a high-impact, star-studded night, including guest appearances from the rest of Destiny's Child (Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams), her sister Solange, Jewel (who sang with Knowles on "Divas Live"), Tyrese and Ramiyah. And she promises the whole affair will look as good as it sounds.
"It's like a hip-hop Broadway show," she explains. "I wanted to do some really edgy lighting and dance routines. I love plays and I love Broadway. I love `Chicago.' I love `Moulin Rouge.' I want to do things like that.
"The set is very minimal; it's not a lot of props and platforms and things that we've had in Destiny's Child productions. It's still a big production, but in a different way."
Knowles says she'll also be playing "a lot" of the songs from "Dangerously in Love," including the first single, "Crazy in Love," and new tracks such as "Sleepless," "Naughty Girl" and "Baby Boy."
She's actually the last member of Destiny's Child to go solo, having taken time to co-star in last year's "Austin Powers in Goldmember" while Rowland and Williams released their own albums. But the expectations are highest for Knowles' outing, since she's been the primary creative force -- writing and producing in addition to singing -- in Destiny's Child's ascent, which includes more than 33 million records sold worldwide and a passel of hits such as "Say My Name," "Survivor" and "Independent Women Part 1."
"I wanted to show my growth as a performer and a singer and a writer," says Knowles, who co-executive produced the album with her father and manager Mathew Knowles, who put Destiny's Child together when Knowles was just nine years old.
"I wanted you to see my artistic growth from a young girl to a young woman. I just wanted to take everything to the next level and do something different, and the music represents that."
"Dangerously in Love" features a variety of guests, including Missy Elliot, production and songwriting collaborations with Missy Elliot, and rappers Jay-Z, Sean Paul and Outkast's Big Boi. It also includes a duet with Luther Vandross on a rendition of the 1978 Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway hit "The Closer I Get to You" that also appears on Vandross's new album, "Dance With My Father." Vandross is currently hospitalized in New York City in a stroke-induced coma.
Knowles says "Dangerously in Love" represents an opportunity to stretch herself more than she can in Destiny's Child, but she's quick to assure fans that the group is still intact and will surface with a new album in 2004 -- after Knowles's next film role co-starring with Cuba Gooding, Jr., in "The Fighting Temptations."
"We're definitely still a group," Knowles says. "We still talk to each other and support each other, and we're still together. Those are my sisters, and I love them.
"And all of us have learned so much about ourselves and what we can do. But I think there comes a time when you have to do things yourself and make decisions yourself and make up choreography yourself and write songs yourself so you can know what you can do and challenge yourself. You have to do that in order to grow up."