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R&B Stars of the 90s: Where Are They Now

We remember turning on the radio and hearing these melodious mistresses of melody. Musical angels who all claimed to get their start in church had voices from the heavens, but sometimes lyrics you couldn’t play for Grandma. Sultry, sexy, emotional, and most of all, darn good singers, we couldn’t get enough of them. And there is a part of us that wants them back. Question is, where did they go?

Deborah Cox– This Canadian Countess of Soul released the memorable track “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here.” We felt the heartbreak and angst in her voice when the song hit the airwaves. It became a guilty pleasure of broken hearted gals at karaoke and slumber parties. Cox then amazed us further by making her Broadway debut in Aida. She even made a guest appearance on Soul Food on HBO. Question being, where is Ms. Cox supposed to be these days?

In 2013, it was rumored she was forming an R &B super group with fellow country woman Tamia and singer Kelly Price called “The Queen Project.” However, efforts were stopped because of scheduling conflicts. Cox also toured with the North American cast of the musical Jeckyll and Hyde, and also appeared again on Broadway. Despite good reviews, the show closed after a limited engagement. Recently, Cox lent her voice to the soundtrack for the Whitney Houston biopic. She currently lives in Miami Florida with her husband/former high school sweetheart/manager Lascelles Stephens and their three children.

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Mary J. Blige- Dubbed the “Queen of Hip Hop Soul” by Sean Puffy Combs, how could we forget this Yonkers native in her hoop earrings, ball cap, and Timberlands. In her search for “Real Love,” Biggie even made a cameo on the track. And then she called for “No More Drama.” Then unfortunately she had issues with substance abuse and other slings and arrow that come with fame and disappeared on us for a while. Now where did Ms. Mary go?

Always a fighter, Ms. Blige is not only candid about her issues with addiction, but also publically and currently clean and sober. These days she loves drama in a different way. MJB has appeared on episodes of the Ghost Whisperer, and also played Betty Shabbazz, the widow of Malcolm X in the Lifetime biopic of the Civil Rights leader. She also continues to make music, and has even collaborated with Little Wayne. Much like Aretha Franklin, who’s track “Natural Woman” she covered, it appears despite her struggles she has more strength and songs in her than the world knows. We look forward to the magic on screen and radio and well as other mystery surprises to come.

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Macy Gray– This raspy voiced rose was memorable with her big hit, “I Try.” Sounding like the long lost daughter long lost daughter of blues great Billie Holiday, audiences took to the vintage sound that was a welcome opposite of her more gospel inspired contemporaries. She even collected the Grammy for best R&B Pop Vocal. In 2001, she was booed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Exhibition for forgetting the lyrics to the national anthem. Since then, we have “tried” to keep track but she had kind of fallen off the radar.

Well, not really. Gray has recorded music. However, her songs have seen more success in Europe than they have in America. In 2005, she opened the Macy Gray Academy of Music. Making news again, in 2007, Macy Gray was arrested in Barbados for breaking the profanity law onstage. However, since then she has appeared on Ugly Betty amongst other television shows. As well, Ms. Gray has dipped her toes into Reality TV with appearances on Celebrity Poker Showdown and Dancing with the Stars. She still continues to make concert appearances as well as her own rules, just like her hero, Lady Day.

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Faith Evans- This sweet sounding soprano with a street wise edge was one of the first female artists to be signed to Bad Boy Records. She belted the songs “You Used to Love Me” as well as “Soon as I Get Home.” Ms. Evans also did a collaborative effort called “Heartbreak Hotel” featuring the late Whitney Houston. Outside of music, she was better known as the widow of Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls. Question, what is Mrs. Notorious up to these days?

After a brief hiatus that involved label changes, a failed marriage, and other independent recordings, she is making a comeback as The Mistress of All Media. Back and ready to fight more than ever, Faith has acted in movies on MTV and UPN. Faith is even in talks about pitching a TV show about her family life. She even released a book called Keepin the Faith: A Memoir, about her career and marriage to Biggie Smalls. 2012, Faith Evans proved her stripes on the TV One series R&B Divas. In 2013, Faith confirmed she was back in the studio working on another album, and in 2014 released the first single on itunes, “Deserve It.”

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Monica- A matter of fact diva that always came correct, Monica recorded tracks such as “Before You Walk Out of My Life,” as well as the much quoted, “Just One Of Them Days (Don’t Take It Personal).” Add in “For You I Will,” which appeared on the Space Jam Sound Track. And then how could we forget her parody of the supposed feud with Brandy on the hit duo, “The Boy is Mine.” During this time Monica’s then boyfriend Jarvis Weems committed suicide, and Monica basically disappeared from all view walking out of our lives. This made us sad, and now we want to find out where she went.

After a rough patch, Monica is not only seeing the light but what looks to be a happy ending. She has made guest appearances on several different tracks and has recorded under independent labels. Monica even re-emerged to use her generous spirit, industry knowledge, and superstar suave to be a mentor on the TV show, The Voice. In 2014, Monica released a soulful rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” On a personal note, Monica has met her prince charming  in basketball player Shannon Brown. The two are now married and have a daughter.

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Brandy– A sweet girl next door armed with powerhouse pipes, Brandy was The Homecoming Queen of R&B. She did not disappoint with tracks such as “Sittin in My Room” from Waiting to Exhale and “Almost Doesn’t Count.” Then there was the duo with rival Monica “The Boy is Mine.” Brandy, who was always likened to Whitney Houston, showed us her acting chops in the Disney musical version of Cinderella as well as Moesha. Then she grew up, had a baby, was involved in a near fatal car crash, and kind of well…..went away. Has Brandy been sittin in her room?

Brandy has been keeping busy, and has been seen on as a judge on America’s Got Talent. From show business linage, she and her brother were on the VH1 reality show, Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business. She has also appeared on Dancing with the Stars, and for a time was a regular cast member of the BT series, The Game. Recently, it was announced Brandy would join the Broadway production of Chicago. Recently, Brandy has also spoken out about her battle with anorexia not only to help break the stereotype about eating disorders, but to educate all young women.

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Mya- This pop tart had a dreamy voice and a body to match. A mix of syrupy sweet and hard hitting, we remember her top singles such as “It’s All About Me,” and her memorable vocal contributions to “Ghetto Superstar,” offsetting ODB’s sometimes offensive and distinct rhymes. Mya even was heard on the Grammy winning modern rendition of Lady Marmalade. She even appeared in the movie musical Chicago. It’s all about her now, so the question is Miss Mya?

These days Mya has expanded her focus. In 2005, she signed a contract with Ford Models and has been a spokeswoman for several campaigns. Also, Mya has been releasing independent music on itunes, and is prolific dropping several new tracks a year. Not limiting herself, Mya is also showing the world her acting chops. In 2014, Mya was seen in the Syfy original movie Bermuda Tentacles.

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Lauryn Hill- From the hair to the attitude to the music production to the song lyrics, Lauryn Hill took the music world by storm. This Columbia University drop out captured us with her distinct, direct, and delicious voice as front woman for the Fugees. Showing her gifts, Ms. Hill even appeared in Sister Act 2. Releasing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, she combined R&B, Doo-Wop, Hip Hop, with amazing song writing. This well dressed and articulate artisan and crusader from social justice, an antithesis to her more scantily clad counterparts, took the Grammys by storm in 1999. Then there were rumors of being hard to work with, a nervous breakdown, and other bridge burning drama. Where did Lauryn Hill bring her ohh la la?

Ms. Hill has appeared in and out of the news over the years, mostly in part to her tax troubles with the IRS. In 2013, Hill was facing jail time for tax evasion. With hours to go before jail, Hill came up with the money. It is rumored she has stayed financially afloat with property investments in Jamaica. Additionally, Hill has publically claimed she left the music industry because she was “sick and tired” of the sexism and politics. Now she lives in West Orange, NJ with her six children. These days, Hill is hitting the scene again with appearances in smaller venues. Her fans are loyal and have been coming to support. We hope to see the difficult yet visionary creator with a studio release soon.

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