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The handshake was warm, accomplished and smooth - seven out of 10 on the squeezometer. The whole encounter felt rather like meeting Condoleezza Rice.For she may have a hip-hop husband, but Beyoncé is no po' girl from the wrong side of the tracks.
Furthermore, after a five-year courtship, in a secretive ceremony conducted in his New York penthouse, on April 4 this year, he had married Beyoncé Knowles.
Beyoncé's mother designed and made the girls' costumes; rehearsals were held at the salon.
Eventually in 1996, with Beyoncé now 15, the group were offered a contract, but it came at a cost: under the strain of their halved income and the intense concentration on their daughter's success, the couple split up, with Beyoncé and her only sibling, younger sister Solange, moving into a small apartment with their mother. Destiny's Child, however, were on their way to becoming the biggest-selling girl group of all time.
The only signs of her stellar status are a slender rope of diamonds at her neck, and a super-high-production-value pedicure that makes each of her inordinately elegant toes look as if its nail is made of highly polished chrome. In Britain, to call someone ambitious is to hint at the pejorative, but there is no doubt that Beyoncé's intense striving to make the best of herself is one of the things that has made her popular. 'I have writers that I write with, or I have writers that will send me a full song, and I'll rearrange it - change the second verse, change the melody, keep a chord that I like, and recreate it. I might bring in whoever I think can help the song. I'll get somebody to play whatever I hum for the bassline.
She has a film role to talk about too, but we start with her new release, her third solo album, which is that trickiest of creative endeavours, and the downfall of many a musician - a double album.'I usually record my albums very quickly,' she says. And I was so attached to the songs - you put your heart into it. So I'm creating a whole track with my voice.'The problem of what to write about, which slowed down the nascent Destiny's Child, has long been solved.
A small man tended to the tips; a considerably larger one to the bling.