En Vogue

En Vogue

Synopsis of Pop Music

“Never never gonna get it (no not this time),
no you're never gonna get it (my love)…”

In the early 80’s, Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, a production team who had worked together in the Timex Social Club and Club Nouveau (they of the hip-hop version of “Lean of Me” in 1996), had a goal: Why not combine r&b with newer hip-hop/rap sounds? And why not do it a la the Supremes—an all-girl band with looks and smarts and, of course, voices of angels?

Foster and McElroy held auditions in Oakland, California, and from them hired Cindy Herron, a former Miss Black California; Maxine Jones, a hairdresser and local club singer; Dawn Robinson, a former grocery store clerk and, like Jones, also a singer round town. The mission seemed to be accomplished, as the hitmaker producers had originally conceived of a trio. But Texas college student Terry Ellis swept into the auditions at the last minute, and when they heard the way her voice sounded with the others, Foster and McElroy knew their fledgling group had to be foursome.

Showing off their synchronized, four-octave range, En Vogue’s 1990 debut album, Born to Sing, had three singles that went to the top of the r&b charts, including the crossover hit “Hold On.” The ladies joined Hammer’s tour as the opening act, and then Freddie Jackson’s a year later. They were very Supremes-esque, though there was no star—all four shared the spotlight equally.

Their follow-up album, Funky Divas, featured the finger-wagging “My Lovin’ (Never Gonna Get It),” “Free Your Mind” (the chorus of which came from George Clinton) and “Giving Him Something He Can Feel.” Rap, rock, reggae and pop were all woven in. They hit the charts again in 1993 when they backed up Salt-n-Pepa’s “Whatta Man.” Commercials, various awards, swanky videos, sitcom and talk show appearances, and a cameo in 1995’s Batman Forever all followed.

After all that hype and a three-year hiatus, the ladies released EV3, so titled because it was their third record and because Robinson had left to try her windpipes at a solo career (she later joined the rap group Lucy Pear). There was less of a funk sound on this album—because in addition to Foster and McElroy, producers David Foster and Babyface also contributed. The eclectic tracks had the ladies stretching in brand new musical directions. And looking as fabulous as they always did, they pulled it off.

2000's Masterpiece Theater showed that the now-trio of funky divas still had plenty of sugar, spice and sauce left in them, keeping the harmonized funk coming into a new millennium.

Artist Release History

1990 – Born to Sing
1991 - Remix to Sing (EP)
1992 – Funky Divas
1993 - Runaway Love (EP)
1997 – EV3
1999 – The Best of En Vogue
2000 – Masterpiece Theater

Pop Sub Categories

r&b
hip hop

Essential Music Albums

The Best of En Vogue (Atlantic)

Band Members

Terry Ellis vocals
Cindy Heron vocals
Maxine Jones vocals
Dawn Robinson (1990-97) vocals

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