Last updated: 11/01/2010 12:00:00 PM
Hold on and prepare to blast off to the future world of music. A bold new group named Blaque will take listeners to places never before traveled. Helmed by three young women -- Shamari Fears, Brandi Williams and Natina Reed -- Blaque explores uncharted grooves with their self-titled debut album for Columbia Records. The innovative collection blends soulful R&B with a funky alternative vibe.
"We go where other groups are afraid to go," advises Natina. "We're straight out of the year 2080." And it's no wonder. Blaque came to Columbia via one of contemporary music's pioneers, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez of the group TLC. Blaque, which stands for Believing in Life and A chieving a Quest for Unity in Everything, was conceived by Lopez and is signed to Left Eye Productions.
Each member of Blaque has a distinctive sound. Brandi's vocals are as sweet and pure as a baby's breath. Shamari delivers powerful soul stylings while Natina handles all of the rap installments.
The first single, the R. Kelly-produced "808," is just a taste of the Blaque expression. A funk-driven tune written by Blaque, "808" imparts a slow infectious beat with just the right mix of rhythm and rhyme. "Working with R. Kelly was an experience," says Brandi. "He'd give us lectures about the music business," says Shamari. Track Masters, Michael Anthony and Sadiq "The Beat Freak" provided additional production wizardry to Blaque.
The group penned five of the album's 12 cuts. Recorded in Chicago, Atlanta, and New York under the watchful eye of Lopez, Blaque explores a variety of sounds, from the haunting R&B ballad "Release Me" to the laid-back hip hop feel of "Leny." Besides conjuring up a unique musical approach, Blaque also dishes out positive messages. "Rainbow Drive," for example, speaks of a time when all races come together while "Stay By Your Side" is about the unbreakable loyalty of friendship. "We're a positive group. We believe in peace and love," says Shamari.
"We're down to earth but edgy. We're funky cool," adds Natina, who originally wrote the track "I Do" with Alanis Morrisette in mind. The track flows shamelessly from hip-hop into an R&B mode accessorized by a chorus that possesses a healthy dose of '60s retro-activity. Natina also wrote and performs "Mind of a King," a track that moves to an alternative vibe.
Brandi was always surrounded by music while growing up. Her grandfather, Bobby Rogers, was a member of the legendary Motown group Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Her father was a professional singer as well and her aunt is R&B songstress Cherelle. "I've always loved music. I never said I wanted to be anything else. I never said I want to be a doctor, a lawyer. I was always wanted to be a singer."
Natina, on the other hand, had numerous career goals as a child. "I wanted to be Miss America, a veterinarian, a movie star," says Natina who often played drums in her uncle's church. Her father was also a preacher. As a youngster, she modeled and as she got older Natina began writing rhymes and making up jingles that led to her recording career. "I had been friends with Lisa [Lopez] but we never really talked about music until one day when she heard my jingle for Now & Later [candies]," says Natina, who took Lopez's advice and pursued music. Natina's also written jingles for Sprite.
Dreams of a music career filled Shamari's mind. So much so that while in eighth grade, she drummed up a story about a recording career. "I told everyone I had a deal and was looking for people to join my band," says Shamari, 18, who listens to R&B, alternative rock, rap and gospel.
Destiny brought the three together. Before relocating to Atlanta, Shamari and Brandi lived in the same Detroit neighborhood but their paths never crossed. Natina, who moved to the Peachtree City from New York City, and Shamari attended the same school, meeting when both joined an urban country group called Butz. Shamari became friends with Brandi when she hooked up with another group called Intrigue. But it wasn't until an audition at Left Eye Productions that they all met.
Managed by Wright Entertainment Group, Blaque is ready for group comparisons. "Listeners will know the difference. Blaque is more urban/pop alternative. It's a totally different vibe," explains Natina. Says Brandi, "Nobody looks like us. We're very futuristic."
Fashion Forward and musically advanced. That's the philosophy behind Blaque. Three young women out to make history.