With their 1992 RCA debut, It’s About Time, the all-female trio SWV scored a string of top ten R&B hits such as “I’m so into You”, “Right Here”, “Downtown”, “Weak”, and “You’re Always on my Mind”. This established the trio as a commercial force early in 1993. Teddy Riley helped the group craft their sound further with the remix to the hit “Right Here” that featured samples of Michael Jackson’s hit, “Human Nature”, which also went #1 on the R&B charts and #2 on the POP charts. SWV gained enormous attention with their auspicious debut. Among their list of honors were 11 Billboard Music Award nominations, and nominations for a Grammy, American Music Awards and The Source Award in 1993. Additionally, they won a Children’s Choice Award and a BET “Best of Video Soul” Award.
After SWV’s hiatus, Cheryl “Coko” Clemons married Michael Clemons, gave birth to two sons and has released one R&B album entitled Hot Coko that spawned the smash hit “Sunshine”, produced by Rodney Jerkins and Trifling. Coko has also released two gospel projects the Grammy nominated “Grateful” and “The Winner in Me”, which appeared 4th on the Gospel Music Billboard charts.
SWV reunited in 2005 and have been performing non-stop ever since. In 2008, SWV was also an honored guest at the BET Awards performing with Alicia Keys, En Vogue and TLC. The group released “I Missed Us” last year, an incredible R&B album with that classic SWV sound. Now the group is gearing up to go back in the studio to record another album soon and they have a new reality show that’s starting soon on We tv.
SWV & family aren’t the only thing Coko is up to these days. She’s now a business owner and along with partner Tamiya Davis has opened C & T Shoe Bar in Virginia Beach, VA. Specializing in shoes, but the store also sells accessories and shirts. Coko is showing no sign of slowing down.
Recently Coko spoke with Aries of UrbanBridgez.com about her new journey as business owner, breaks news on SWV‘s reality show, you’ll learn what current reality show she turned down to do it, the release of “I Missed Us.” Coko also addresses the “Men In Black” video & the real reason she wasn’t in it, her appearance on Netta Brielle‘s cover of “Rain,” R&B today, motherhood and much more!
UrbanBridgez.com You are having your grand opening of C & T Shoe Bar this Friday (today), first let’s talk about how the idea came about for the store?
Coko: Well you know, I’m a shoe lover. I’m a shoe addict as you may call it. I spend a lot of money on my shoes, but there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay what I pay for my shoes. So I wanted to bring fabulous shoes but at affordable prices in this area in Virginia Beach. So I had this idea and I asked my friend who is also a shoe lover, Tamiya (Davis) to do something. And she was with it and was like let’s do it. So within, I want to say three months; we had this store together, just ready to roll! It happened so fast. That’s just what happens, when it is meant to be. They’re beautiful shoes at affordable prices. And they’re fabulous!
UrbanBridgez.com What all do you guys specialize in?
Coko: We have accessories as well. Women are really into accessories these days, so we have very fabulous pieces and we also have clutch purses. They’re handmade; we have two handmade artists from Virginia. We’ll be featuring them and we have the shoes with them. We have T-shirts; we’re going to have more as well.
UrbanBridgez.com Do you have any fears or worries about how successful the store will be?
Coko: Not really, because I know we’re inside the mall and Bakers just closed. That was one of their main shoe stores, so it’s no longer there. So our shoe store is just going to pick up where they left off. I’m not really worried; everybody is excited because they don’t get those nice shoes out here. Because we don’t have shoes like that. We have a Nordstrom’s, but that not in this area. I’m excited to bring the store to this community.
UrbanBridgez.com Well I wish you nothing but the best of luck!
Coko: Thank you!
UrbanBridgez.com Any plans to branch out outside of Virginia Beach, VA?
Coko: I don’t know, I am thinking about it. If we do I’m thinking we would go to like Raleigh, North Carolina.
UrbanBridgez.com Now yeah, that’s a different location down there (both laugh).
Coko: Yeah, see I’m trying to go to markets where they don’t get the goods like that.
UrbanBridgez.com News hit recently of an SWV reality show coming to WE tv and fans like me are ecstatic! What do you guys want SWV fans to get out of watching the first season?
Coko: Thank you and what you’re gonna get or will get, because we’re done filming. You know us as SWV the music, but I don’t think you guys know our individual personalities. You think you know us, but you don’t really know us. Like most people would consider me to be a bitch and whatever! But you really get to see like who we are. How we operate in our everyday life with our family. Our family and how we come together within the group. You get to learn about our break-up. You have three different stories, so you guys can believe whatever story you want (both laugh). It’s three different versions about the same story (laughs). So you get to hear about that. You see us fight, but we’re passionate about each other and we love each other. We’re just rebuilding our friendship. In this show, we go to therapy. Two of us have plastic surgery.
UrbanBridgez.com Say Waaaa (both laugh)!
Coko: So you get to see all of that on the show! Some things that deal with health issues, you just get to see that we’re human. We go through things and a lot of the stuff that the bloggers say, it really effects us. You’ll see that we have a lot of fun and we’re crazy. You get to see all of that; it’s going to be a great show! Those that love us, once you see it..you’re going to love us even more!
UrbanBridgez.com Do you have an air-date yet?
Coko: You know, the time keeps changing. I heard it was in the fall or the beginning of the new year. So right now, I’m just hearing the fall. So I don’t know yet.
UrbanBridgez.com I know that you happen to love various reality shows, what are a few of your favorites and why?
Coko: Right now, I am really enjoying R&B Divas L.A. That is one of my favorites. I was actually going to do it but the SWV show came up. So I went with my sisters. But Mo (Lil Mo) is my homey, that’s my girl! I’m looking forward to doing some work with her. But she is holding it down! I love it and I love R&B Divas L.A. because them heffas can sing! You know and I love good vocals. So that’s kind of my favorite show. Now you know I got to get ratchet (laughs). I love Bad Girls Club (laughs). That’s my show, I’m sorry but that’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Big Brother, of course Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. I think I watch shows that people would probably be like huh? I watch some of everything, I’m just a reality show lover.
UrbanBridgez.com “I Missed Us,” easily one of the best R&B albums of last year!
Coko: Thank you, thank you!
UrbanBridgez.com What was your motivation to get back in the lab with Leele and Taj?
Coko: You know, we’ve been officially back together since 2005. We’ve been saying we were going to record and finally we found the right situation to record and put new music out. I mean, we thought it was the right situation (laughs). But that’s what really made us come together and get this music going again. It got us motivated you know. It wasn’t the best situation for us but at least it brought us together and helped us put out some great music for the fans. So that’s defiantly all that matters. We’re going to be working on some new music soon!
UrbanBridgez.com We’ve talked about this, so I want to finally give you the chance to address it. Surprisingly many people don’t know it was you who sang the hook to Will Smith’s “Men in Black,” but those of us who did always wondered why you were not in the video? Tone & Poke of Trackmasters did an interview with Complex a few years ago and said you declined to do the video because you thought Will Smith was wack, in so many words?
Coko: I really don’t appreciate Tone, Poke or whomever else saying that. Because I’ve never had this discussion with Tone or Poke! That I said Will Smith was wack or implying it, because Will Smith was a friend of mine. What happened was my record label (RCA) wouldn’t allow me to be in the video. Back in the day if you remember SWV was never really featured in anybody else’s video. They would always say no, they wouldn’t allow us to do anything else. So that’s why I wasn’t in the video. I would have loved to be in that video because it was a huge song. It had nothing to do with me thinking Will Smith was wack, so Tone and Poke, you’re wack for saying that! Where are they now? Don’t worry, I’ll wait (both laugh)!
UrbanBridgez.com You are so silly! Any plans as of now to record another gospel album?
Coko: It’s so funny you ask me that, because I’m in the studio right now! We’re recording a gospel song, I’m recording a gospel remake from one of my favorite singers Tremaine Hawkins, “Change.” I’m doing this with a choir. But on the show, you will get to see what the deal is with this gospel situation. I can’t give away too much, but when you see the show, you guys will be like oh okay, got ya!
UrbanBridgez.com You’ve been in this business since you were a teen and have seen the industry pretty much come full circle. What’s your opinion of the current state of R&B from a radio standpoint?
Coko: I don’t even listen to the radio. Not the new school stations, I just listen to the old school stations. It’s just different, not my cup of tea. There are people out there that I still rock with, that I enjoy. But for the most part I don’t really get with it. I love Rihanna, because she don’t care (laughs). She makes good music, so she’s one of the people that I really like. Of course Beyonce,’ it’s amazing to see. Because I’ve known her since she was like 10 years old. To see the woman that she has become is great. Fantasia and I’m waiting for something from Jazmine Sullivan, because she’s like one of the best! There are a lot of them out there that are still doing it. They just don’t get the shine that they deserve! So it can become frustrating at times.
UrbanBridgez.com You recently appeared on Netta Brielle’s cover of “Rain” which is just dope! How did that come about?
Coko: Her producer is a friend of my husbands. He called and said she was doing the song and would I get on it. I wanted to hear it first and when I heard it I was like, I like her style. So yeah I’ll do it. Then when I saw her whole image, yeah I’m digging her. I like her a lot! She’s going to be huge.
UrbanBridgez.com If you could change one decision you’ve made regarding your career thus far, what would it be?
Coko: I think I would say the break-up of SWV. I would say that with that decision if we would of just kept going. We could of been so much bigger and so much further in our career! So that’s one thing I would change.
UrbanBridgez.com What’s the best part of motherhood for you and a wife?
Coko: I don’t know, just watching my kids grow and grow well. I feel like I’m doing something right. You’ll get to see that on the show as well (laughs). You’ll get to see the way I am with my kids, it’s something!
UrbanBridgez.com Anything else you want to leave with your fans before we wrap?
Coko: Just thank everyone for the love and support! And we (SWV) have new music coming, very very soon! It’s a gospel single that will be dropping…stay tuned!
In Case You Missed It: Previous UB Exclusive Interview with Coko!
“C & T Shoe Bar” [Website]