NEW YORK – Staying together was not part of Destiny's Child's (search) destiny — the multiplatinum group is splitting up.
In a statement released to MTV News, the trio of Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams announced plans to disband after their world tour ends in the fall.
"We have been working together as Destiny's Child since we were 9, and touring together since we were 14. After a lot of discussion and some deep soul-searching, we realized that our current tour has given us the opportunity to leave Destiny's Child on a high note, united in our friendship and filled with an overwhelming gratitude for our music, our fans, and each other," the statement said.
The group was unavailable for comment Monday, but a representative said another statement would be released later in the day.
The breakup of the girl group, which first debuted as a teenage R&B foursome in 1997, isn't much of a shocker. Many critics didn't expect the group to exist at all after the multiplatinum solo debut of Beyonce in 2003. Her album, "Dangerously In Love (search)," won five Grammys and solidified her as a one-name superstar apart from the group.
And the title of Destiny's Child's latest album — "Destiny Fulfilled (search)" — appeared to signal the end was near.
In an interview with The Associated Press in November, the women were noncommittal when asked about their future.
"I think as far as Destiny's Child, our main focus is for us to maintain our friendship. And if in three years, five years, 10 years, whenever we decide we wanna do another Destiny's Child record, then we will do it," Beyonce said. "But I think our main goal was to do this next record, and I think we just wanna eventually have kids that play together."
Beyonce and Rowland have been members of the group since it was formed in their hometown of Houston. They scored instant success with their debut, thanks to the hit "No No No (Part I)." Back then, the founding members also included LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson.
But after the release of their second album, 1999's "The Writing's On The Wall," Luckett and Roberson were booted from the group. (The duo later sued the group and Beyonce's manager-father, Matthew Knowles, and reached a settlement.)
Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin replaced Roberson and Luckett the same year, but Franklin was later dropped, making the group a trio.
Among the group's biggest hits have been "Bootylicious," "Survivor" and "Independent Women (Part I)." All of their albums have sold at least 1 million copies; their latest has sold more than 2 million.
Besides Beyonce, Rowland and Williams have released solo albums — with less fanfare.
Despite the impending breakup, the women pledged to remain close friends.
"After all these wonderful years working together, we realized that now is the time to pursue our personal goals and solo efforts in earnest," the statement said. "No matter what happens, we will always love each other as friends and sisters and will always support each other as artists. We want to thank all of our fans for their incredible love and support and hope to see you all again as we continue fulfilling our destinies."