If R&B has indeed been pronounced dead, then SOLO is just the group of EMTs to resuscitate it. With the release of brand new music, they breathe life back into a medium void of feeling. Standing on the shoulders of giants they remind us what we've been missing in music without mimicking and yet continue to be unique.
New York City 1993, on the corners of Prince and Broadway Streets, in NYC’s SOHO gallery district- super-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (of Janet Jackson, Boys II Men, Mariah Carey, Usher fame) discover a uniquely soulful a cappella group named SOLO. SOLO - a group of soulful male singers that features an upright jazz bassist were crooning classic doo-wop over the horns of passing taxis and the sounds of sirens. Jam and Lewis fell in love with their mix of voices, harmonies, and Jazz. The producing pair signed the group and whisked them off to Minneapolis to record an album for their boutique label Perspective Records. In 1995, Perspective released SOLO’s critically acclaimed debut album “SOLO” garnering two top ten singles “Heaven” and Where do you want me to put it” and thus skyrocketing the group to stardom. Solo toured the world with legends Michael Bolton, R Kelly, Biggie Smalls and numerous others. The group had a great run; until 1998 when the bottom dropped out of their classic American Dream, and they were unceremoniously dropped by A&M records.
Before being dropped, SOLO survived the tragic music company mergers of the late 90’s by being absorbed into A&M Records, but their parent label Perspective Records was not as lucky. Gone was the group’s relationship with the producer mentors Jam and Lewis. Despite releasing a sophomore effort with great promise, SOLO’s admittedly half-heartedly recorded “4Bruthas and a Bass” was caught in the crossfire. The album was released in 1998, but after just two weeks on the charts SOLO no longer had a recording contract. Leaving many fans asking...“Whatever happened to that group that sang “Heaven” and “Where do you want me to put it”?
Well, the truth is… “After we were dropped from A&M Records some of us lived in our music studio for a while, we lost one of the founding members (for the second time in our journey) after he decided to pursue a solo venture on his own. The rest of us were convinced there was no place for us in music or our sound, so we decided to take just the needle off the record and do other things. It was a dark time and to make ends meet some of us returned to performing on street corners and subway stops, one sang on cruise ships, one went back to school, and we even worked behind the scenes in the music industry. Despite the ups and the downs, I don’t think either of us would change one thing about our journey. It made us stronger men and better brothers,” says member Dan Stokes.
It took more than a decade for the group to return to their life’s calling. After coming across several positive comments on Internet blogs, YouTube videos, and Facebook pages SOLO learned they indeed had been missed. Their fans still had a special place in their hearts for SOLO’s music. So the group started a website, got back together, and embarked on a small over-seas tour. Fans continued wondering, supporting, and requesting more music and information on them. Patriarchal up-right bassist Rob Anderson says, “It’s because of the fans that we decided to give it another go.” “We got back together, dusted off the musical chops and blends, and agreed that we still had something kinda special. After getting over the bitter pill of the music “game," we understood that what our fans wanted was the music, and that is always more important than our huge egos, so we recorded a new album.
This time (minus one founding member for the 3rd time) “we were not going to let anything or anyone stop us! Armed with our voices, industry friendships, what little money we had, and fan support, we recorded a new album on a “very” limited budget. We did it on our own” proudly chimes founding member D Nell Chavis.
“On “3.0 Rebooted” we channel the moods and struggles the eras of bygone like Motown, Chess, and even the late 90’s. We called in some favors from our musician friends and made a deliberate and financial decision to keep things raw and authentic by recording the majority of the album in various parts of each other’s homes in Brooklyn, NY. Out of necessity, we wrote and arranged every song on this album,” says Stokes.
And trust us if you loved the first album you’re gonna love this one too” says Anderson.
“Soulfully we are coming hard on this album, and this is our declaration of war on anyone who ever said R&B/Soul was dead.” says Chavis. With songs like the new steppers anthem and first single “Gone," the everyman’s R&B anthem “MF Keeper”, and the soulful tribute to love “Superfan" the group proves R&B indeed has more life left to live.
They stay true to their influential sounds of Motown, Chess, and Philadelphia soul. Songs feature warm authentic vintage moogs, gut-bucket guitar licks, chopped up samples, and live horns bouncing atop dirty snares all seamlessly joined and backed up by doo-wop harmony. SOLO recreates a lane that only they have traveled. The EP takes a fun, sexy, and fresh lyrical approach to timeless topics of love and heartache. It features production and musical collaborations from some of the industry’s most-talented musicians, producers, and former SOLO band members - M. (Majik) Redmond, Maurice Premiere Raymond, Jonathon "Bonkaz" Howard, Lez Lemon, and J. P. Delaire.
"SOLO"- the group’s debut was nominated for the Soul Train Music Award “Soul album of the year” and sold more than 750,000 copies. It garnered 2 top 10 singles “Heaven”- #1 Billboard AC R&B and “Where do you want me to put it”- #8 Billboard R&B. The album featured the soulful underground favorites "A change gonna come", and “Blowing my mind." The group’s sophomore follow-up "4 Bruthas and a Bass" was released in 1998 on A&M Records. On it, SOLO collaborated with the late great Gerald Levert, wrote with Angie Stone, recorded with the talented female group Brownstone, and released another hit single the sexy "Touch Me" (#23 Billboard R&B) co-produced and co-written with Raphael Saadiq.
Dubbed The Temptations of the 90s SOLO has plans to get out and build on the millions of fans they touched while touring The USA, Canada, Europe, and Japan. They have opened up for artist such as the Queen herself Aretha Franklin, R Kelly, Michael Bolton, Patty Labelle, Gladys Knight, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Chaka Kahn, R Kelly, The Notorious BIG, LL Cool J, and many others.