WHERE ARE THEY NOW? SWV (Sisters With Voices)

They were “So Into You”, they were “Weak” but most of all, they were “Right Here”! “It’s About Time” we heard from SWV…!

by Christopher Smith

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!

SWV 2019

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!
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