They were “So Into You”, they were “Weak” but most of all, they were “Right Here”! “It’s About Time” we heard from SWV…!
Cheryl “Coko” Gamble (b.1970), Tamara “Taj” George (b.1971) and Leanne “Lelee” Lyons (b.1973) formed Sisters With Voices (SWV) in 1988 as a gospel trio but moved very quickly into R&B territory at the beginning of the 1990’s. They won a record deal with RCA in 1991 and released their debut single, “Right Here”, in August 1992. Although the song only scrapped in at No.92 on the Billboard singles chart and made No.16 on the R&B chart, it was their second single “I’m So Into You” later that year that made them stars.
“I’m So Into You” went on to peak at No.6 on the singles chart and No.2 on the R&B chart and in early 1993, was a moderate hit internationally, charting at No.17 in the UK, its best placing outside of America. Before 1992 was done, SWV released their debut album “It’s About Time”, which would be a top ten best seller, with over two and a half million copies sold in The States alone. The girls released “Weak” as the third single from the album in early 1993, which became their biggest hit of all when it simultaneously topped the singles and R&B chart, although that success could not be repeated elsewhere, where “Weak” performed, well, weakly around the rest of the world.
With the album selling well, SWV didn’t want their debut release left behind, and thanks to a remix by Teddy Riley, mashing Michael Jackson’s 1983 song “Human Nature” into the background, the girls released, what would become their most recognised song, in the Summer of 1993. This time “Right Here” went to No.2 in the US as well as becoming a second chart topper on the R&B chart, but more importantly, it became a huge global hit, especially in the UK, where it peaked at No.3 and became the 33rd biggest selling single of the year. SWV wrapped up 1993 with the singles “Downtown” (US No.2, UK No.19) and “You’re Always On My Mind” (US No.54), bur before they took a well earned break, were back in 1994 with “Anything”, recorded for the sound track of the film ‘Above The Rim’. The song made No.18 in the US and No.30 in the UK.
SWV returned a full two years later with their second album, “New Beginning”, which featured the lead single “You’re The One” (US No.5, UK No.13), their third number one on the US R&B chart, as well as “Use My Heart” (US No.22) and “It’s All About U” (US No.61, UK No.36). “New Beginning” followed their debut into the US top ten and sold over 700,000 copies there, although it was less successful internationally.
Hot on the heels of “New Beginning”, SWV went back into the studio and in 1997 released “Release Some Tension”, which featured a number of collaborations, many of which were released as singles, including the lead track “Can We?” with Missy Elliott. Other collaborations included “Someone” with Puff Daddy and “Lose My Cool” with Redman, although all of these, together with the album, we much less successful, with only “Someone” charting high in America and the album missing the top twenty. It did, however, prove marginally more popular in the UK, where both the album and the single “Can We?” charted top twenty.
Following a festive album the following year, SWV parted ways with ‘Coko’ releasing a solo album in 1999 (US No.68) after her guest appearance with Will Smith on the smash hit “Men In Black” in 1997. ‘Taj’ went into modelling and ‘Lelee’ joined an accounting firm. But all their careers were short-lived as SWV reformed in 2005 and in 2007 toured the US with New Edition and Blackstreet as part of a Best of 90’s tour. In 2011, the girls signed a new record deal with Mass Appeal and later that year, released a brand new single, “Co-Sign”. It was the first new music from a new album, “I Missed Us”, released the following year (US No.25).
SWV toured extensively over the next few years and returned to the studio in 2016 with the album “Still”, which included two R&B chart hits, “Ain’t No Man” and “MCE (Man Crush Everyday”). The girls featured on R&B group Bell Biv DeVoe’s comeback single, “Finally”, in 2017 and only last year (2019), SWV announced they were joining forces with Salt’n’Pepa for a new reality TV series, Ladies Night, which premiered later that year. So welcome back girls, right here. Be right here!