Two weeks ago (June 10), R&B devotees were happily surprised to hear SWV on Chris Brown‘s remix for “She Ain’t You,” that borrows from the trio’s Billboard Hot 100 hit “Right Here” and from the original, Michael Jackson‘s “Human Nature.” The ladies were excited to work with Chris Brown, especially Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George. “I love Chris Brown,” she says. “To be able to work with his little young handsome self was actually a treat for me. Everybody needs a little eye candy every now and then, you know?” But this remix is just the beginning.
Although the band has been back together touring since 2005, this year marks the 90’s R&B group’s official comeback as recording artists. The ladies are ready to give the fans new material. Cheryl “Coko” Gamble says their fourth non-seasonal studio album (excluding their 99′ holiday album, “A Special Christmas”) will have the “same SWV flavor” with a contemporary twist. “Same style just new millennium. Kick it up a notch, take it to the next level, but we’re still going to be ourselves.”
SWV became one of the most successful girl groups of the 1990s, achieving double-platinum status with their debut “It’s About Time” (1992). The album generated two wildly popular hits, Hot 100 No. 1 “Weak” and R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 2 “Right Here/Human Nature.” They continued their success with “Anything,” from the “Above the Rim,” “New Beginning” (1996) and “Release Some Tension” (1997) before taking a hiatus in the late 90s.
The trio’s new label, Mass Appeal Entertainment/eOne Music, came up with the idea to bring the artists together. The ladies express their gratitude to the label for giving them a chance. “They didn’t say no, they didn’t close the door in our face. No, they believed in us, so that’s always a plus,” Coko says.
In fact, Mass Appeal CEO Marcus “DL” Siskind produced some of their early remixes, so there is a level of comfort there. As far as production for the new album goes, SWV has worked with Lamb (Jazmine Sullivan) and Brian Michael Cox (Mariah Carey, Usher). They’re looking forward to working with others. “Whoever’s going to give us some hits, not any mediocre stuff,” Coko says. “We’re looking for some heat.”
The singers are working on the first single and planning to release the album this year. They will chronicle their journey on a new reality show, which they’re shopping around to television networks. Taj, who appeared on “Survivor” and TV One’s “I Married a Baller,” has the most experience with reality TV.
“For me, it may be a little hard because I’m a little moody, so I may have to take some time off from taping and take a break,” Coko says.
“I had fun,” Leanne “Lelee” Lyons says of filming the pilot. “If I can be me and other people enjoy it, then it’s alright with me… it’s just a regular day with cameras.”
The show will also address the conflicts that led to their break. “We’re going to be honest about it,” Taj says. “Every day is not perfect.” They also hope that their story will help young girls who want to follow in their footsteps. “They have to understand it’s not an easy road. It’s hard as hell out here and it doesn’t get easy at all. The more successful you become, the more work you have to put in. We want them to realize that you just don’t put on a cute little bra top and sing a note and dance and everything is gold,” Taj says.
The ladies will continue to put in work, hitting the road in July. They would also be open to working with their fellow girl groups on a super tour like New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys. “Why can’t we do that? Why can’t we get a bunch of girls together to do something like that?” Taj asks.
“Somebody really needs to pull that one off,” Lelee says.
Check out SWV’s summer tour dates:
1st – Vancouver, Canada
2nd- Charlotte, NC (The Soul Food Festival)
16th- Nashville, TN (The Soul Food Festival)
23rd- Rochester, NY (Brown Square Festival)
26th- Mashantucket, CT (MGM Grand at Foxwood)
29th- Chicago, IL (Proviso High School)
6th – Memphis, TN (The Soul Food Festival)
9th- Knoxville, TN (Tennessee Amphitheater)
20th- Kansas City, MO (The Soul Food Festival)
28th- Cleveland, OH (The Soul Food Festival)