Ol’ Skool was a R&B group from St. Louis, Missouri during the 1990s that consisted of Jason Little, Jerome “Pookie” Lane, Tony Herron, Curtis Jefferson, and Bobby Crawford. Their cover of Atlantic Starr’s classic song, “Am I Dreaming,” was released as a single by the group off their eponymous debut album.
The remake featured female R&B group Xscape, and Keith Sweat, who discovered the group. The song was also featured on Xscape’s Traces of My Lipstick album. Most of Ol’ Skool’s music was about love and sensuality (which we need more of again in today’s R&B), and represented the art of soulful balladry.
Janet Jackson is an iconic R&B singer, dancer, and actress. Having sold over 140 million records, she is ranked as one of the best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music. “I Get Lonely” was released as the third single from her sixth studio album The Velvet Rope, it became Jackson’s twelfth R&B chart-topper. The song debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single also became Janet’s eighteenth consecutive top ten hit on the Hot 100, setting a record for her as the only female artist to achieve that feat, surpassed only by Elvis Presley and The Beatles.
The song received a nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1999 Grammy Awards. Equally popular, was the Teddy Riley and Timbaland produced “I Get Lonely (TNT Remix)” featuring iconic R&B group Blackstreet.
The “I Get Lonely” video continues to influence newer artists today, including Australian pop singer Sam Sparro’s “I Wish I Never Met You” video, and Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation” live performances, which were both inspired by the video, outfit, and choreography. Enjoy the throwback above!
Luther Vandross, Jr. was a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and record producer. Before his very successful solo career, Vandross was an in demand background vocalist for several legendary artists. Vandross sold over 25 million records worldwide. Cheryl Lynn is a disco, R&B and soul singer who has also sold millions of records.
“If This World Were Mine” was a hit single recorded by Vandross and Lynn for her album Instant Love. The song peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart in 1982. The song was a remake of the original 1967 version recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell from their album United. The original was written solely by Gaye, and was one of the few songs they recorded without Ashford & Simpson writing or producing. The original also hit the charts peaking at No. 68 on the Billboard Pop chart, and No. 27 on the Billboard R&B singles chart.
Enjoy the Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn Soul Train performance of their version above.
Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Anita Baker has been God’s gift to R&B since the mid-80s. Her music has impacted multiple genres outside of R&B as well, including Jazz and Gospel. Known for her soulful and sultry vocals, Anita’s voice is unique with its rhythmic tone that is often mellow and serene. Singers such as Mary J. Blige and Toni Braxton have credited her as one of their biggest influences.
“Same Ole Love (365 Days A Year)” was a single off her 1986 multi-platinum album, Rapture. The single peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and No. 6 on Adult Contemporary Singles in 1987.
Chico DeBarge is a R&B singer and the younger brother of the members of the popular Motown family act DeBarge. Unlike the rest of his DeBarge siblings, Chico is the only male DeBarge that does not sing in the falsetto range; he sings tenor.
“No Guarantee (Remix)” was a bonus track off his 1997 album Long Time No See. The single featured an assist from frequent collaborator and R&B crooner Joe. Before releasing this album, DeBarge had served a 10 year jail sentence. Upon his release, he decided to start over and use his new music to be introspective. As an underrated classic, the “No Guarantee” remix proved to be a sultry and soulful feel good track.
‘Sisters With Voices,’ better known as SWV, is a Grammy nominated R&B trio from New York City. Formed in 1990 as a gospel group, the ladies (Cheryl “Coko” Gamble, Leanne “Lelee” Lyons, and Tamara “Taj” Johnson), went on to become one of the most successful R&B acts of the ’90s, dominating the decade with their incredible three-part harmonies.
SWV was also a major part of both the New Jill Swing and Hip Hop Soul movements. “I’m So into You,” was the second single released off their triple platinum debut album, It’s About Time. The single peaked at No. 2 on the R&B chart and reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single alone went on to sell more than one million copies.
Enjoy the throwback above! After the jump check out SWV performing “I’m So Into You” & “Weak” on the Arsenio Hall Show.
Kut Klose was a R&B trio that formed in Atlanta, Georgia. The three female singers that were members of the group were Athena Cage, Lavonn Battle and Tabitha Duncan. The ladies were discovered by Keith Sweat who produced their debut album. The trio specialized in a sassy brand of urban R&B pop, primarily mounted on their smooth harmonies and sensual content. Battle described their sound to be a little hip-hop, a little rhythm and blues, a little soulful and a little youthful.
“I Like” was released as a single off their debut album Surrender. The single peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Whitney Houston also known as “The Voice” was one of the most iconic singers of all time. Houston has sold an estimated 200 million records worldwide, and is the most awarded female act of all time. “Heartbreak Hotel” was released as the second single from her 1998 album My Love Is Your Love. The song features R&B singers Faith Evans and Kelly Price. “Heartbreak Hotel” reached the Top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number one on Billboard ’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song received two nominations at the 2000 Grammy Awards: Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo.
What makes the song so classic is that it contains 3 supreme R&B vocalists, and while Price and Evans back Houston, they also sell themselves grandly as empathetic friends on the track. Their vocals, soaring with emotion, helped keep the timeless Houston identifiable to a new generation of R&B fans. The three singers united for the purpose of soulful balladry.
Last week, Kelly Price hosted her 2nd Annual “For The Love of R&B” event in Los Angeles during Grammy week. This year’s event honored, as well as celebrated, Whitney Houston’s legacy with performances from Sevyn Streeter, Goapele, Faith Evans, Angie Fisher, Antonique Smith, B Slade and more. Price and Faith closed out the event by performing “Heartbreak Hotel” to roaring applause from the crowd.
Check out a clip of their performance, and interview from Kelly below: