It was April 1992. Euro Disneyland would open its doors in Paris, France; a jury would acquit four police officers in the beating of Rodney King, setting off six days of massive rioting in Los Angeles; and producer Teddy Riley would put the finishing touches on the debut album of a brand new girl group called SWV.
The music scene was a mash up of Grunge, characterized by bands like Nirvana; pop, brought to the masses by boy groups like New Kids on the Block; and New Jack Swing, the sweet spot for dancing, crooning heartthrobs like Guy.
Twenty years later, music is “busy and lyrically it seems young,” says Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George, one of the three Sisters With Voices (SWV) whose new album, “I Missed Us,” hopes to bring back the love-inspired sounds that catapulted them to the top of the 90s music charts and into an indelible spot in R&B history.
From their respective homes in Virgina Beach, Atlanta and Nashville, Coko, Lelee and Taj caught up with the Huffington Post to talk candidly about their new work, juggling music careers with motherhood and the advice they’d each give to the person they were 20 years ago.
HP: You guys have been back together/touring since 2005, what has your relationship been like? How is it coming together for this album (especially being that you all live in different cities)?
Taj: Our relationship has improved a lot since our first go around. It’s understood that we’re all adults with emotions and needs. We try not to overlook that anymore.
Lelee: The different locations is somewhat of a nightmare because we can’t really get much rehearsal time in. So because of that we always depend on conference calls and a good prayer! [Laughs]
HP: Tell us about life then and now.
Taj: In the beginning Lelee had two kids, her son and daughter. Four years later Coko had a son. During our hiatus, Coko and I both got married. She had another child. I had a son and welcomed my stepson.
HP: What do your kids think about your musical legacy?
Lelee: My children are in their early 20s and don’t really think of me that much and what I do because they grew up with it. I’m just MOM. I have the same damn headaches as a mother from the projects, so it doesn’t matter that you’re a celebrity.
Taj: My sons could care less as long as I’m happy. They enjoy the music but they think we’re just parents trying to be young. [Laughs]
Coko: My youngest one is more into it than my oldest. A young girl wanted me to come to her party, she’s about 16 years old, and he was like ‘Why does she want you to come?!’ I was like well, dag, okay! He doesn’t get it yet. [Laughs]
HP: Has the group dynamic changed at all? As far as who’s in the lead, etc.?
Lelee: Well we have a lead singer, and that’s Coko. But we all will surprise a lot of people because we share the lead now on this record.
Coko: With this new SWV, where everybody is just used to hearing me sing lead on everything, everybody is singing lead. You get to hear everybody’s vocals. Lelee didn’t sing as much, but she’s come out a lot and she’s singing on this record — she’s doing a great job. [Also] we just respect each other … and think before we speak.
HP: We don’t see that many girl groups (or groups on general) these days, Now it’s all about the solo artist. Do you think they’re making a comeback? Do you think this project will drive that?
Taj: Groups, along with New Jack Swing, faded with the 90s. It wasn’t something that was planned, it evolved. There are plenty of groups waiting in the wings — they just need a shot. SWV will start the group trend again.
Coko: It would be nice to see some more girl groups doing their thing. It’s been a long time since you’ve seen groups in general. They’re missed! I’m working on putting a girl group together myself, so I’m excited about that.
Lelee: I believe that some of the older girl groups will be inspired to make a comeback after seeing us. That’s a good thing though because we’re always on the road with the guys.
To read more of the interview with SWV, along with advice they would give to their younger selves, and see photos of the group then and now, click on the link below:
Article Courtesy of The Huffington Post