So who went to see En Vogue at the Indigo2 in London, earlier this week? The ladies, Cindy Herron, Dawn Robinson, Terri Ellis and Maxine Jones, went in and smashed it, just like they used to back in the day, and have lost none of their original magic!
I remember when En Vogue first hit the scene back in 1992, and they immediately got a lot of people’s attention. Firstly, they were all beautiful and sexy as hell. Their image was like a throwback to the girl groups of the 60s, with a lot of their early stage costumes and hairstyles,which oozed that ‘old school’ sophistication. Secondly they could all sing their asses off! I think that was the first girl group I remember which had that combination on lock. Their harmonies were simply ridiculous, and each girl rocked it equally when on solo duties.
Who could forget the opening vocal on their debut single Hold On (above), when Cindy belted out the first few lines from the Jackson 5′s Whose Loving You? I used to practice that day in day out, even though I couldn’t sing a lick! Lol!
Admittedly the ladies weren’t too hot with the dancing (Cindy in their debut video for Hold On, was not the one…), or so I thought, as I know I wasn’t the only one who was hella shocked when at the 1993 Grammys Cindy broke out some professional tap dancing – see below. But that aside we were usually treated to some hand movements and the sexy strut, which they had down perfect, normally while showcasing those killer pins, which more than made up for things.
En Vogue will always be relevant because they had an abundance of timeless hits during the 90s, including Hold On, My Lovin (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Free Your Mind, Give It Up Turn It Loose, Giving Him Something He Can Feel and Don’t Let Go (What’s It Gonna Be?), and of course their 1994 duet with Salt N Pepa, Whatta Man! Unsurprisingly En Vogue’s debut album Born to Sing went platinum, while the followup Funky Divas did triple that!
The group was formed in Oakland California by music producers Denzel Foster and Thomas McElroy. But like a lot of groups that are manufactured, the cracks soon started to appear. For En Vogue it was during the recording of album number three, EV3 when Dawn decided she wanted to leave the group. At the time the rumours were she felt constrained by the McElroy and Foster ‘regieme’. I remember having the pleasure of interviewing Ms Robinson a few years back and she pretty much echoed that sentiment. By the time of my interview (mid 2000′s) she had already also parted ways with the group she formed after En Vogue, Lucy Pearl.
Lucy Pearl, which was the brainchild of Tony! Toni! Tone!’s Raphael Saadiq and also featured A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad (such as great combination of talents), only had one album, the self-titled Lucy Pearl. But despite the group being short-lived (1999-2000), their two hit singles Dance Tonight and Don’t Mess with My Man are still huge favourites today, with the album being certified gold. Dawn was later replaced by singer Joi, but the group disbanded altogether a year later, in 2002.
En Vogue continued without Dawn, releasing two more album, which didn’t live up to past glories, and then there were new members thrown in here and there, and I think I am right to say, the magic was lost. The ladies were reunited again at the 2008 Soul Train Awards with Alicia Key’s brilliant ode to classic Girl Groups, and now the ladies are back and stronger than ever it would appear by their live performance this week (below). Fingers crossed for new material!
DID YA KNOW?
- En Vogue was originally supposed to be a trio, but after hearing Ellis audition, the group’s creators Denzel Foster and Thomas McElroy decided to turn it into a quartet.
- Although the group was created as a nod to the girl groups of the 60s, Maxine was the one all the other members credited as the member with the ‘Motown’ voice.
- Cindy Herron was born to an African-American father and a white mother.
- Cindy was named ‘Miss San Francisco’ in 1986. She is also a former Miss Black California.
- Terry Ellis is the only original member of En Vogue to have never left the group during any point in time.
- Terry Ellis was the first member to release a solo album, with Southern Gal in 1995.
- After leaving En V0gue in 1997 Dawn was signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records. Although she featured on fellow Dr Dre Signing The Firm’s Firm Biz, her own solo material on the label never saw the light of day. In 2002, having parted ways with Aftermath, Dawn released debut solo album, Dawn, on Atlantic Records, led by a single Envious , however neither managed to set the charts alight.