R&B Bridgez: En Vogue’s ‘Funky Divas’ Turns 25

Assembled in Oakland, California in July 1989.

Album: “Funky Divas
Singles: “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It),” “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” “Free Your Mind,” “Give It Up, Turn It Loose,” “Love Don’t Love You,” “What Is Love”
Label: EastWest (Elektra)
Release: March 24, 1992

En Vogue‘s original members are Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson and Terry Ellis. They were a Grammy-nominated vocal quartet, assembled by the hit music producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, formerly of the social conscious group Club Nouveau.

En Vogue has sold over 28 million albums and singles worldwide. They have won more MTV Video Music Awards than any other female group in MTV history, a total of 7 VMAs to be exact. The group was named the second most successful girl group of the 1990s and the 18th most successful act overall of the 1990s according to Billboard magazine.

En Vogue launched in July 1989. The inspiration for the group came when production duo of Foster and Mc Elroy envisioned a modern-day girl group in the tradition of the 1950s/1960s female trios. The blueprint was based on the plan of recruiting singers who possessed strong voices, noticeably good looks, and intelligence.

Like previous girl groups, En Vogue was originally conceived as a trio, but after hearing Ellis audition, Foster and McElroy decided to create a quartet. After forming, the group began working with their producers on their debut album.

Born to Sing was released on April 3, 1990. The album charted at #21 on the Billboard 200 and #3 on Billboard’s R&B Albums Chart. The first single, “Hold On,” was released to radio in late February 1990 and became a crossover pop hit, reaching #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles charts, and number one on both the R&B singles and Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts. It later went to #5 in the UK, and became a hit in Europe.

The next two singles, “Lies” and “You Don’t Have to Worry,” each went to #1 on the Billboard R&B charts, while the fourth and final single, “Don’t Go,” charted at #3 on the Billboard R&B chart. The album was later certified platinum by the RIAA. “Hold On” was awarded a Billboard Music Award for “R&B Single of the Year,” a Soul Train Award for “R&B/Urban Contemporary Single of the Year, Group, Band or Duo” and have been nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group“. In 1990, En Vogue signed an endorsement deal to appear in a Diet Coke commercial directed by Spike Lee.

En Vogue‘s second album, Funky Divas, considered to most like us, as an R&B classic was released 25 years ago this week on March 24th, 1992. The album debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Billboard R&B and ultimately doubled the take of its predecessor, going multi-platinum.

The album’s first two singles: “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” (a cover of the Aretha Franklin’s song from the film Sparkle) both went top ten pop, and peaked at #1 on the R&B charts. The next single, “Free Your Mind” also went top ten. The final three singles “Give It Up Turn It Loose” and “Love Don’t Love You” both were top forty hits. “What is Love” was the final single, released to radio.

The album went on to sell more than three million copies, won an American Music Award for “Favorite Soul/R&B Album,” and was nominated for 5 Grammy Awards.

Billboard Magazine

The music video for “Free Your Mind” earned the group 3 MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Choreography,” “Best Dance Video,” and “Best R&B Video.” They were also honored with Soul Train‘s prestigious “Entertainer of the Year Award.”

In addition to, the group was featured in Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Essence among other major publications. Riding high on the success of Funky Divas, a six-song EP entitled Runaway Love was released in the fall of 1993, spawning the hit “Runaway Love.”

The group was signed to an endorsement deal with Converse, and were featured as an opening act on Luther Vandross’ 1993 tour. Among the numerous countries toured were England, Germany, the Netherlands and France which confirmed the group’s live vocal and performing prowess. En Vogue also made numerous television appearances on such series as In Living Color, A Different World, Roc and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper (the latter two of which they also sang the show’s theme songs). In 1993, En Vogue were featured on Salt-N-Pepa‘s top ten hit “Whatta Man“, from Salt-N-Pepa’s Very Necessary album. The track also appeared on En Vogue‘s Runaway Love EP.

Take a musical trip down memory lane with the original ladies of En Vogue.

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