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Fresh Fest honors ’90s, New Jack Swing greats

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“Groove me…baby…tonight!” Clad in my Esprit clothing and British Knight sneakers, in the late ‘80s I could dance all summer afternoon to the sounds of Guy pumping through my Walkman.

I can also remember when my friends and I would sing SWV’s “Weak” like we had pipes like Coko. (We were delusional. Ha!)

Needless to say, I cannot wait to see these artists, in addition to Keith Sweat and K-Ci & JoJo, on stage at the Indiana Black Expo Fresh Music Festival July 21 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tickets are $25-$65. The beat-box master, Doug E. Fresh, will be hosting this concert.

For those who don’t remember the ‘90s and millennium like I do, here’s a little information to jog your memory.

Guy

The group Guy was formed in 1987 in New York by Teddy Riley; Aaron Hall; and Damion Hall.

In the late ‘80s, Guy signed to Uptown Records, and released their self-titled debut album “Guy.”

Five singles were released from the album that became significant R&B hits. “Groove Me,” “Teddy’s Jam,” “I Like” and “Piece of My Love” propelled the album to double platinum status.

In 1990, Guy released its second album, entitled “The Future.” The songs “Wanna Get Wit U” and “Let’s Chill” took the album to platinum status. The band was also featured in Mario Van Peebles’ 1991 film, “New Jack City,” performing the song “New Jack City.”

Shortly after the movie, Riley went on to produce for other artists and the Hall brothers each pursued solo careers during the ‘90s. Guy has performed periodically since their initial break-up.

K-Ci & JoJo

Although Cedric “K-Ci” Hailey and Joel “JoJo” Hailey achieved great success with their R&B group Jodeci, the two brothers decided to break out on their own.

Their first sign of independence came in 1994 when K-Ci covered Bobby Womack’s hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” for the movie “Jason’s Lyric.”

In 1996, K-Ci and JoJo served as guest artists on the late 2Pac’s No. 1 hit “How Do U Want It” and was featured in 2Pac’s, “Toss It Up” video.

In 1997, the North Carolina natives released “Love Always.” The album’s third single “All My Life” (dedicated to JoJo’s daughter) was on the Hot 100 list for three weeks.

In 1999, the brothers recorded “Life” for the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence movie “Life.”

K-Ci and JoJo’s second studio album, “It’s Real” was released in 1999 and was certified platinum.

In 2010, they signed an exclusive deal with R&B crooner Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ label, Soda Pop Records.

Keith Sweat

Before becoming an R&B and soul singer, Keith Sweat worked for the commodities market in the New York Stock Exchange. He sang at nightclubs until he was discovered in 1987.

In 1987, Sweat released his debut album “Make It Last Forever,” which sold four million copies. The biggest hits from this album were “I Want Her” and the title track. Sweat continued to chart fairly well with his sophomore album “I’ll Give All My Love to You” and “Keep It Comin” debuted in the Top 20 of the album chart.

Sweat released his fourth album “Get Up on It” in 1994. He followed with “Keith Sweat,” in 1996, which hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200. The single “Twisted” hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Nobody” hit No. 3.

In 1997 Sweat joined forces with the late Gerald Levert and Johnny Gill to form LSG. They released one album titled “Levert.Sweat.Gill.”

Keith Sweat went on to produce songs for artists such as Dru Hill, Immature, The Isley Brothers and The O’Jays.

Sweat will be headlining the Fresh Fest Music festival.

SWV

With their 1992 RCA debut, “It’s About Time,” the trio SWV (Sisters With Voices) scored a string of top 10 R&B hits such as “I’m so into You,” “Right Here,” “Downtown” and “Weak.”

Teddy Riley helped the group craft their sound further with the remix to the hit “Right Here” that featured samples of Michael Jackson’s, “Human Nature.”

For their debut, SWV received many honors including an American Music Award.

SWV’s “Anything” contribution to the soundtrack for the movie “Above the Rim” became a top R&B hit in 1994.

In 1996, SWV returned with another platinum album, “New Beginning,” which was preceded by the No. 1 hit “You’re the One” and The Neptune’s hit “Use Your Heart.”

In 1997, SWV released their third album “Release Some Tension,” which spawned several top 10 hits including “Someone” featuring Diddy.

“Can We” featuring Missy Elliot and produced by Timberland, was featured on the “Booty Call” soundtrack.

SWV went on hiatus and each member completed projects of their own. Cheryl “Coko” Clemons released one R&B album and two gospel projects; Tamara “Taj” George starred in her own reality series, became an author and was featured on the CBS reality series “Survivor”; Leanne “Lelee” Lyons produced music for various artists.  

SWV reunited in 2005 and have been performing ever since. They are also gearing up to release their fourth studio album in over 15 years.

SWV is one of the world’s top selling female R&B groups.

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