I’m sure you were somewhere getting in your feelings to the jams of these ladies. If not, you were pretending to be more cultured because you knew the words to Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason,” either way, the women behind some of our favorite emotional jams had more talent in their pinky fingers than most singers had in their whole bodies. Many achieved a pretty good level of success, and some are happy just making music, but they’re very underrated to us.
“I remember, when you filled my heart…with joooooy”
Those are the opening words of the very epic song, “Fool of Me” by Ndegeocello, off of the Love & Basketball soundtrack. It’s just one of many beautiful pieces of work by the singer/songwriter, who has been making music since the late ’80s (who can forget 1993’s “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)”?), and whose talent has been featured on more soundtracks than we can count on both hands. These days, Ndegeocello is still doing her thing, putting out the album Pour une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone in 2012, where she reinterpreted Simone’s classics, and she’s still out in these streets performing.
Corinne Bailey Rae
When Corinne Bailey Rae first came on the scene with her soft vocals and soulful jams (“Like A Star” is my jam), she was refreshing and proved to be quite the talent when she dropped her self-titled album in 2006. But after the death of her husband in 2008 (accidental overdose), we saw very little of her for years. With time to heal and grow, Rae came back in 2010 with The Sea, and even did a cover EP of everyone from Prince to Bob Marley called The Love EP in 2011. She’s even said to be dating again, according to the Daily Mail, and is working on a follow-up to The Sea.
Chapman actually was a pretty big deal in the ’90s, but why she faded into the background after a while with all that talent beats me. She’s continued to put out new music since the new Millennium, most recently dropping Our Bright Future in 2008, 20 years after releasing her self-titled debut. It was nominated for a Grammy, and she even did some touring in Europe and in a few cities in the States for it. But as of late, Chapman’s movements and whereabouts haven’t been as easy to track. Hopefully we’ll hear some new music from that stunning voice soon!
“Hopeless” from the Love Jones soundtrack? “I Know”? Farris has always been an amazing vocalist, especially when she first caught the public’s eye singing with Arrested Development on some of their biggest jams back in the early ’90s (she would have some issues with group leader Speech, though she was an unofficial member). But by the mid-90s, after dropping the album Wild Seed in ’95, she was ready to take a break from the industry. But luckily for us, Farris is back on the move, just releasing Dionne get your Gunn in 2012. You can find her on Twitter under the handle, @LadyDy.
When they debuted in the early ’90s with their chic hairstyles and killer vocals, they were the new girl group to watch. And boy did they deliver! They had the “It’s the freakin’ weekend” jam in “Hey Mr. D.J.,” as well as smooth numbers like “Sending My Love” and “Crush.” But after releasing two albums, the debut platinum, the follow-up–not so much, they parted ways. Where are they now? They’re both singing, just on the solo tip. Jean (the lighter sistah) got married and released a solo Christmas album in 2011, and is looking to release a new album this year. Renee is doing more of a jazz sound these days and has been singing with Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor. She’s hoping to put out a new album sometime soon.
Whether she was singing and literally grooving with Groove Theory, or going solo and showing off her crazy range, Amel Larrieux has been a must for me. I live for “For Real” and “Get Up,” plus “All I Got” stays on rotation in my phone (especially the remix with Mos Def). A few years ago there was talk of a new Groove Theory album, but as of now, Larrieux is still performing on her own, even showing off new tracks late last year for an album called Ice Cream Every Day that is set to drop, hopefully some time this year. And she still looks good!
The singer with the standout voice and jams that up and surprised you (her first album was a recommendation from a friend that was a pleasant surprise), the Grammy nominated singer dropped For the Lovers, Dreamers & Me in 2006 and had a great deal of folks on fiend-mode hoping for more (please check out “Dream” if you don’t know it already). However, she settled down, married singer Citizen Cope and became a mom. But don’t worry, Smith came back on the scene not too long ago and dropped She last month. She’s been touring for the album, and it has not disappointed. Plus, she’s on Instagram now!
Ever since “Be Your Girl” in 2004, there have been a legion of fans who fly under the radar, but insist that they are die-hard Teedra Moses fans. They go to all of her shows (trust me, I’ve been to one in 2012 and watched folks sing every song, knowing every word), and they’re always excited about her new music and endeavors. But since she put out Complex Simplicity, we haven’t seen a new album in almost 10 years. So what’s up? Well, she signed with Rick Ross and his MMG label in 2011, but he hasn’t really pushed her like he’s pushed his other artists. Yet and still, she just put out new music this week, “Can’t Be Luv,” and hopes to put out the album, The Empress Pride Collection on June 25. YAY!
Forget “Oops (Oh My),” “Call Me” was THE jam back in 2002! Tweet came out of nowhere as a protege of Missy’s and had everybody talking with her smokey but sultry voice and good looks. And three years after she debuted with Southern Hummingbird, she dropped It’s Me Again in 2005, which was good, but didn’t have the same amount of success. But that’s not holding her back. The singer recently released the EP Simply Tweet on MC Lyte’s record label (she of course parted ways with Missy), DuBose Music Group.