All Articles Tagged "brownstone"
Despite her frequent declarations that she’s lost her passion for singing, Nicci Gilbert recently told radio personality, Egypt Sherrod, of V-103, that she’s reuniting with her former group Brownstone. The original members Monica “Mimi” Doby, Charmayne “Maxee” Maxwell and Nichole “Nicci” Gilbert, who were formed in Los Angeles and signed to Michael Jackson’s MJJ Music label, will begin their tour in Atlanta. For now, that’s all about we know as far as details are concerned.
I’m personally surprised by this news. As a fan of “R&B Divas,” it was always painfully clear that Nicci wanted to devote her time to her clothing line and other projects and was no longer interested in singing…especially in a group setting. With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see how this tour thing plays out.
If Brownstone comes to a city near you, will you be sure to check them out?
Meanwhile, the LA branch of the “R&B Divas” all came together to perform individually and then collectively at The Savoy in LA of course. Check out this video of them singing Chaka Khan’s “Every Woman.” There were a couple of off moments but for the most part; but considering this was an impromptu performance, we’ll give them a pass. It sounds like they’ve all still got it.
How do you think these ladies sound? Will you be watching the new, LA season of R&B Divas?
You might remember Nicci Gilbert from back in the 90’s when she started the R&B group Brownstone, the first artists to be signed to Michael Jackson’s label. Her passion and soul came through in her vocals yet the pain of her struggles with her weight ultimately led her to pursue other avenues.
Years later, happily married and following in her mother’s footsteps as an entrepreneur, she’s mastering reality TV as co-executive producer of R&B Divas (premiering August 20th at 10pm on TV One) and launching a “big girls” clothing line, Curvato Clothing.
MN: Who introduced you to entrepreneurship?
NG: My mother was the first entrepreneur that I knew. Not only was she a jazz singer but she owned five or six houses and two buildings. My childhood was filled with going to these houses that my mother would buy and cleaning them out, painting and getting them ready to rent. I remember sitting in the car most days watching my mom go to collect rent from her tenants. I didn’t know it at the time but she was instilling that constant Detroit hustle and grind in me.
I was the older of two younger sisters and it was my job to make sure they were ready for school. Most times my mom would work at the clubs as a singer at night and she opened a resale shop so we’d go to the shop and work after school. As it pertains to business and my hustle, everything that I know and learned was from my mother.
MN: What does hustle mean to you?
NG: Beyonce said it best: “A diva is a female version of a hustler.” In my opinion, it just means going for something with everything that you have and to not limit what you have to do temporarily to reach that passion. Hustling means to never give up. With me, I always have a few balls in the air.
MN: What’s “the Octopus theory”?
NG: “The Octopus theory” means there’s one head controlling all of these arms, fully aware of what each of these arms is doing. [At times] some of the arms might be a little limp, which means the other arms have to take the slack.
MN: What did you learn about business from being a part of the R&B group Brownstone?
NG: I saw the movie Dead Poets Society and I was just moved by this whole “carpe diem” theory (“Seize the day”). So I went out to LA and placed ads in the paper, auditioned girls and started a female group. What I realized is that not everybody takes kindly to direction and from the beginning I was very much the direction girl. I like to control as many aspects of my life as I can.
MN: What were your struggles with Brownstone?
NG: When I started the group, I wanted us to be singers. It wasn’t about fashion or being the cutest. We were to be the best singers out there, the best writers, have the best songs and give great voice. But later on, the label just wanted to figure out how to market up to a mass audience. By then, I was the chubby girl and when it came time for the second album, I was being told to starve myself, get plastic surgery or do whatever I had to do to fit into this other mode.
It was then that I just started to see that maybe this wasn’t the train that I was suppose to be on. I found myself changing from this bubbling Detroit hustler girl into the girl looking in the mirror every five minutes because I was constantly told that I was just too big. So that kinda started to diminish my passion for music.
*Clears throat* “We are liviiiing, single…oooooh in a ’90s kind of world, I’m glad I got my girls! Keep ya head up WHAT! Keep ya head–”
Okay, you get it. I’m sure you know the intro song to one of the best black TV comedies of the ’90s, “Living Single.” It had all the right qualities to stay stuck in your mind, from the glimpse of Brooklyn, to the dancing lady working it in the background and all the colors. I loved it. And that’s just one of many things that I loved about the show, but the biggest thing that stuck with me were the characters. They were successful, silly AND single folks doing it big in NYC and every Thursday on FOX, you could find me and thousands of other people watching. But the show has been kaput for almost 15 years, so where is the cast now?
*Just know, I’m not covering Bumper Robinson (Ivan the messenger who was infatuated with Khadijah; we talked about him in the A Different World piece. He’s doing fine.)