The 90s – the age of music digitalization, extinction of cassette tapes, looming infusion of hip-hop’s street cred with pop sensibilities and the absolute reign of R&B divahood and its intricate vocal harmonies and runs.
TLC – Tione “T-Boz”, Lisa “Left Eye” and Rozonda “Chilli”, the innovative yet controversial female trio from Atlanta, found instant success riding their blend of hip-hop, pop and R&B to the highroad of stardom. They were known for their catchy hooks, bouncy grooves, provocative and socially tinged lyrics as well as their edgy and eccentric fashion sense, trendy videos and captivating live performances. Four Grammys, just as many multiplatinum albums and many soap opera-like scandals later, TLC remains one of the biggest-selling females groups of all time and an archetype for aspiring female acts. Their #1 hits “Waterfalls” (1994) and “No Scrubs” (1999) taught young female music fans valuable life lessons.
Though the group was sadly cut short by Left Eye’s sudden death in a tragic car accident in 2002, Watkins and Thomas continued to perform as TLC and recorded the album 20, an anthology released in October 2013, that included “Meant to Be,” a new song written by Ne-Yo.
En Vogue –a dazzling female vocal quartet was conceived and put together by the production team of Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy. In 1990 they launched their debut album.“Don’t Let Go (Love)” remains group’s biggest hit and it’s also their final single to feature Dawn Robinson. In 1997 En Vogue resolved to continue on as a trio with “Free Your Mind” which, following the summer of the Los Angeles riots, struck a chord with national audiences by coaxing people to let down their guards about racism and prejudice.
Combining sass and class with amazing vocals and perfect production, the group was one of the most successful acts of the 90s, winning more MTV Video Music Awards than any other female group in MTV history, a total of seven and have accumulated over 2,800 weeks on various Billboard charts.
SWV (Sisters With Voices)
Cheryl Gamble, Tamara Johnson and Leanne Lyons easily ruled the radio in the early 90s. Much like En Vogue, the group scored with massive crossover singles that saw them burn up the Billboard Hot 100. Their first album was one of the most successful debuts going triple platinum producing hits such as “Weak” that recently got revived with its jazz rendition by Robert Glasper and Gretchen Parlato. The group eventually disbanded in 1998 handing over the R&B thrown to Destiny’s Child, who dominated the charts 1999 and on. The group split in 1998, but reunited seven years later, releasing their latest album “I Missed Us” in 2011.
Destiny’s Child were formed in Houston, Texas in 1990 by Matthew Knowles, when nine-year-olds, Beyoncé Knowles and LaTavia Roberson met at an audition. Kelly Rowland and LeToya Luckett joined the group couple of years later. After 7 years of honing its vocal and performance skills through numerous shows and competitions, such as Star Search, the group landed a record deal with Columbia Records. Their self-titled debut arrived in 1998, with Wyclef Jean-remixed single “No No No”.
At one point, Destiny’s Child seemed to have more arrivals and departures than an airport, starting with the exodus of Roberson and Luckett, who were unsatisfied with Matthew’ management, accusing him of favoring his daughter Beyonce and Rowland. In their place came Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin, the latter of whom ended up leaving the group just five months later. With several No #1 singles, including “Independent Women Part 1,” “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “Say My Name,” Destiny’s Child went on to fame, fortune, and Grammy nominations proving that they are a true ”Survivor”. In 2002 they announced plans for solo albums from all three members, which eventually led their amicable split in mid-2005. They reunited in 2012 to record the Pharrell-produced song “Nuclear,” released in January 2013- just before Kelly and Michelle joined Beyoncé at her halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVII.
With Beyoncé as group’s striving force, female empowerment anthems, killer dance moves, unique fashion sense on one side and five albums, 40 million sold copies and numerous awards and No#1 hits on the other; Destiny’s Child has retained its dominance creating meritorious musical legacy and an everlasting friendship despite all the hardship.
All Saints –the soulful UK quartet that blurred the lines between R&B, pop, house and alternative sounds. Melanie Blatt. Shaznay Lewis, and sisters Natalie and Nicole Appleton were songwriters and music aficionados with a suave, more intelligent image less tied to their looks. Their self-titled debut album dominated the mid 90s, producing three UK number-one singles, including the BRIT Award-winning “Never Ever“.
In early 2000, their single “Pure Shores” was included on the soundtrack to the movie The Beach and year after, greatest-hits collection of singles marked the bitter end for the group. Following an over five-year hiatus from their pop careers, an eternity in today’s mercurial music business, All Saints released their third album “Studio 1,” but soon after disbanded again to announce its reformation for a second time to support the Backstreet Boys for five dates across the UK and Ireland in 2014.
Floetry- the mid ‘90s UK duo was formed with merging the mesmerizing talents of the Songstress Marsha Ambrosius and the Floacist Natalie Stewart. Their sizzling rhymes and beats, sincere and poetic lyrics, distinguishing vibe with silky,braided-in-perfect-harmony voices had the power to cradle the listener from beginning to the very end. The creative pair first emerged as the high demand songwriters, writing tracks for Michael Jackson, Jill Scott, Glenn Lewis, and Bilal.
After moving to US in search of something greater, they inked a deal with DreamWorks and released their debut album in 2002. It’s follow-up, Flo’Ology, reached the Top Ten upon release three years later. In 2006 the duo parted ways and ladies continued their musical journeys pursuing solo careers.
Sisters Martie and Emily Erwin, bassist Laura Lynch and guitarist Robin Lynn Macy formed the Western-themed bluegrass band, The Dixie Chicks in in 1989. Originally promoting classic cowgirl image, later on they distinguished themselves with their wisely mixed combo of radio-ready aesthetic country-pop and the rootsy sound of neo-traditionalist country. As their career was advancing, they further distanced themselves from country’s conservativeness , with many songs about freedom from a woman’s point of view, although their outspoken beliefs – particularly open criticism of the war in Iraq – seriously affected the band’s radio play, sales and reputation.
Album release in 2006 with songs like “Not Ready to Make Nice,” , which won three Grammy Awards dealt with that backlash and helped reestablish the group as a commercial force. In the following years these ladies sold more CDs than all other country music groups combined, won numerous awards, including five Grammys. Dixie Chicks had recorded an intimate live set as part of VH1’s Storytellers series, released in 2011, further resuming the group’s strength as one of the best musicians in country music.