One of the most successful female R&B groups of the 1990’s, who gave us timeless hits like “Right Here”, “I’m so Into You” and a personal favorite, “Weak” is back to do it all over again. Sisters With Voices better known as SWV have put aside their differences, reunited and are ready to re-introduce real R&B to a new generation of music lovers.
On very short notice, Cheryl “Coko”, Tamara “Taj” and Leanne “Lelee” all stopped what they were doing to call in and chat with me about their return to the music world. The songbirds opened up about their relationships with one another, the sound of the new album, reconnecting with their fans and gave an update on their family lives.
The ladies recently dropped their lead single, “Co-Sign” from their upcoming album I Missed Us slated for release some time this April. With Brandy, Monica, Usher and now the soulful and always relatable ladies of SWV added to the list of 2012 album releases, we can definitely say R&B has returned to the forefront.
Marcus: The obvious question that everyone wants to know is what’s taken so long for you guys to get back together and working on a new project?
Taj: We all have been living and growing and doing the motherly thing. We all have kids now and marriage and the usual things that everyone does when they have time off and enjoy life.
Marcus: Tell us, what was the moment when you ladies said “it’s time to get back together and get in the study to make some more music” when did you have the realization?
Taj: Probably bout the second we broke up.
Coko and Leelee: (laughs)
Marcus: Are there any unresolved issues that you guys had to work through in order to get back in the “let’s be a group” mode?
Taj: Every day is a learning process, it’s a growing process; it’s a working process. We are women, we are emotional, we have egos, we have issues – it all comes with the estrogen.
Marcus: So what are you doing this time around to make the chemistry hold?
Taj: Oh God, what are we doing differently this time?
Leelee: I think we have been doing more….
Taj: Wait did she say “eating more”?
Leelee: I lost my train of thought now, what was the question?
Marcus: What are you guys doing differently this time around that’s going to make the chemistry endure?
Leelee: We’ve been together so long and we have gone through so much that we know each other now. We know when to stay out of each other’s way and at the end of the day it is about respecting one another. We have mastered that now and like Taj said it’s still a work in progress because every day you grow and you know life happens. You have to adapt with the times I guess and at the end of the day it’s about respecting each other and that’s what we do to make it work.
Marcus: Speaking of adapting to the times, everyone that I know loves your first single, but what was the thought process before recording. Were you thinking you would be true to yourself but do the production that Rhianna and everyone else is doing nowadays to be current or just do what you have been doing and good at for all these years?
Coko: We wanted to be ourselves regardless. A lot of people out right now are sampling our music and things that we have done in the past so it really didn’t make any sense to try and come out and be like everybody else. SWV is classic and we want to stay classic and make the music that everybody loves. I think if we would have done something that’s different and current I don’t think the fans would have appreciated that. We stay true to SWV, the fans and everyone’s going to love this record.
Marcus: What was your reaction when you heard Chris Brown’s sample of your song? When I first heard it I was like that’s not even that old for him to be sampling that, but it really grew on me – how did you ladies feel when you heard it?
Coko: Well that’s not even our song; that’s Michael Jackson’s song. We sample him, so it’s all love.
Marcus: So tell me about the project, tell me about the vibe of it; tell me about the feel. We know we are going to get classic R&B but tell us what you’re going to be talking about on the album.
Coko: LOVE! A lots of love. You know people aren’t making love songs anymore, everyone is talking about bumping and humping and all of that so we want to make some good love songs that you can make some babies to.
Leelee: We want to take people through the process of love making.
Marcus: Are any tours lined up in the future for you guys?
Coko: We have been touring and doing whatever since 2005, none stop. We’ve been blessed to keep working off our old hits and new hits on the way so yea, we staying on the road.
Marcus: When you have a show coming up do you get nervous now? Are you nervous about the crowd still being die hard supporters? How do you think the new music will be received?
Taj: I think they are going to love it.
Marcus: Are there any features?
Taj: We’re featured on it – SWV.
Girls: AMEN!! (laughs)
Coko: We have two remakes on the record, Patti LaBelle’s “If Only You Knew” and Switch’s “They’ll Never Be;” they both were produced by my husband on this album – it’s shaping up very well.
Marcus: How much writing did you ladies do?
Coko: None – we are going to write a song. Right ya’ll?
Marcus: Now you ladies said it’s going to focus on love, but will it be happy love, sad love or the rollercoaster of love?
Taj: We going to do rollercoaster.
Leelee: We going to do every aspect of love; if you broke up with a dude and you pissed off with him, we going to sing about it. If he left her, we are going to sing about it. Whatever your situation is I’m sure we will have something you can relate to.
Marcus: Hold up, I hope it’s not going to be all man bashing songs though.
Taj: No we don’t have any of those.
Leelee: It will probably be more of “I am so pissed off at you, but I still love you baby” music.
Marcus: Give me an update on your lives, how the family live is going for all of you?
Taj: While I’m sitting here talking to you my son keeps tapping me trying to get me to fix his phone so I would have to say it’s busy.
Marcus: (laughs) and how old is your son now?
Taj: He’s six.
Coko: I have two children, 16 and eight and it’s good; I like being home and being the PTA mom, running around in my kids’ school taking care of them. I like that life.
Leelee: I have grown children, my daughter is 23 and my son just made 21 and honey, I’m going through the second stage of motherhood. I thought it would have ended at 18 but it’s like a new beginning so whew!! It’s just so much, trying to juggle all these different things like being at the school, being a mother, having to work and pay bills and stuff. You have to find out how to do all of those and I wouldn’t give it up for nothing in the world; it keeps me on my toes.
Marcus: How is your family feeling right now, knowing that you ladies are about to get back on grind harder than ever?
Taj: I think they’re excited if anything, my son could care less.
Coko: My younger star is very excited. My older son, he doesn’t think I’m a real superstar or whatever; he likes Lil Wayne and those people (laughs).
Marcus: Coko, are you still pursing your gospel career in conjunction with this project?
Coko: Right now I’m focusing on SWV but I do plan on making another gospel record in the future. I want to do something with my mom; that’s always been a dream of mine I would do that.
Marcus: Did your mother teach you how to sing?
Coko: She was like coaching me and taught me harmonies and helped polished what God had given me so yeah. My mom is a vocalist as well so I grew up in the studio; she was a session singer, so I watched her do her thing singing background and things like that.
Marcus: So will there be hints of inspirational music on the new SWV project?
Taj: So far right now, no; we don’t have anything but you never know what will happen.
Marcus: Okay, ladies, is there anything else you guys want to add?
Coko: Taj got us in the gym and we are working it out, right ladies?
Taj: Say word.
Taj: I’m sick of folks calling me “Double Chin Taj” (laughs)
Coko: It was just a bad angle (laughs)