UB Spotlight: 25th Anniversary of Terri & Monica

Singers and Songwriters Terri Robinson and Monica Payne formed the duo…

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Terri and Monica in 1992. The two were original members of the short-lived late 80s R&B Uptown Records group The Gyrlz, along with Tara Gete. The group released the hit single “If It’s Games You’re Playing.” The group was the opening act on the 1988/1989 N.E. Heartbreak Tour with New Edition, Bobby Brown and Al B. Sure!.

They released their debut album “Systa” in September of 93‘ on Epic Records, the albums songs were all co-written by the ladies, with additional writing credits from Horace Brown, Gordon Chambers and Bryce Wilson. With production by Grand Puba.

The albums first single was “Uh-Huh,” followed by “Intentions.” The “Intentions” video featured appearances by The late great Heavy D and actor/comedian, then dancer Flex Alexander.

Neither of the singles did as well as they should have or charted past Billboard‘s Top 50. However “Systa” was one of the best R&B albums released that year. A year we saw new albums from Janet Jackson, R. Kelly, Mint Condition, Jodeci and the year Toni Braxton and Xscape released their debut albums.

One of the tracks Terri and Monica recorded for “Systa” was left-off the album and used for the film “Poetic Justic” entitled “I’ve Been Waiting,” also released in 1993. The movie starred Janet Jackson and the late Tupac Shakur, the song was also feature in the film.

gyrlzIn 1995, the ladies started work on their sophomore album “Suga.” While recording the album, they appeared on LL Cool J‘s hit single “Loungin“‘, from his Mr. Smith album. That year, they also contributed “It’s Alright” to the Money Train soundtrack, a film starring Wesley Snipes. That same year Terri appeared on the soundtrack for the television series New York Undercover with her then boyfriend, singer/songwriter Anthony Hamilton on the track “I Will Go” (check out the unreleased video below).

In August of 1996 Terri and Monica released the single “Sexuality (If You Take Your Love),” one of the hottest singles that year. We’re not even talking about the remix, which was produced by Timbaland and features a rap by Missy Elliott. The duo planned to release their sophomore album, three years to the date they dropped their debut album in September of 1996. However the album wasn’t released and shelved in the U.S. and only released overseas.

Many wondered why the album was never released with such a strong first single, Monica broke it down saying “The story is quite simple….Terri got pregnant from Anthony Hamilton before the album was to be released…the label was goin thru changes…new people. We got caught in the cross fire and Terri no longer had a desire….she wanted 2 be a writer and a mom. Our musical career had been long, prior we were in a group called The Gyrlz….this album was our best work and i was very excited about it. I was sad when it ended. but, supported Terri’s descision. Life is a funny ride…. However, pleased that i had a wonderful experience and we made a small difference in peoples lives.”

The album is a gem for anybody who can still order it overseas, songs like “Hey Babe,” “Shake Your Body,” “I Don’t Mind,” and “Things You Do For Me,” show the ladies were in their own lane and the best was yet to come.

Terri co-wrote TOTAL‘s biggest singles, “Can’t You See and ” No One Else” as well as Soul IV Real‘s “Candy Rain” and R&B Diva Monifah‘s “I Miss You (Come Back Home).” Terri also, co-wrote and performed the theme song for the hit TV series “In Living Color.”

Monica went on to co-write and sing background vocals for Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, Soul 4 Real and Heavy D. In 2004, she co-created the female production/promotion team called The HONEY Collective. HONEY pulls together many of the movers and shakers, taste makers, check cutters, fashionistas, artist and industry executives in Hollywood. Monica also became the road manager for Kristinia DeBarge. Monica recently appeared with boyfriend rapper Too $hort on season 2 of VH1‘s “Couples Therapy.”

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