You Say It's Your Birthday: Maxine Jones of En Vogue

En Vogue vocalist Maxine Jones is celebrating her 32nd birthday today.

Born and raised in Patterson, N.J., Jones would go on to join En Vogue, a group

that

single-handedly reinvented the R&B girl group in the late '80s and early

'90s with such songs as "Hold On" and the scorching cover of Aretha

Franklin's "Givin' Him Something He Can Feel." It all started when

Oakland, Calif.-based producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, who had

previously worked with such acts as Timex Social Club and Tony! Toni!

Tone!, assembled the group with the idea of starting an R&B vocal group to

sing over the New Jack Swing beats that were such the rage in 1988. After a

short audition process, Cindy Herron, Dawn Robinson, Terry Ellis and

birthday girl Jones were selected, and the group was named Vogue. Their one

appearance under that moniker was on Foster and McElroy's concept album,

FM2.

By 1989, the group changed its name to En Vogue and released its full-

length debut, Born To Sing, in 1990. It hit #21 on the pop charts,

with the single "Hold On" climbing to #2. While Born To Sing put the

soul songstresses on the map, it was 1992's Funky Divas that broke

through to the masses. The album sold millions and was filled with songs

that touched on elements of hip-hop ("Hip-Hop Lover"), rock ("Free Your

Mind"), pop ("This Is My Life"), doo-wop ("Giving Him Something He Can

Feel") and reggae ("Yesterday"). "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It),"

based on a sample from James Brown's "The Big Payback," reached #2, and

the

hard rockin' protest song "Free Your Mind" bullied its way into the #8

slot. In 1993, the group's considerable vocal skills were featured on

Salt-n-Pepa's "Whatta Man," and En Vogue released an EP entitled

Runaway

Love. The foursome sang "A Change Is Gonna Come" with First Brother

Roger Clinton at MTV's Inaugural Ball in 1995 and, later that year, landed a

blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in Batman Forever. The group's

last outing as a foursome came in the form of "Don't Let Go (Love)," which

first appeared on the soundtrack of 1996's "Set It Off." Robinson

left the group early last year, just before recording for EV3 got

under way. The girls adopted a goth-Supremes look for "Don't Let Go (Love)"

and EV3, but sales for the album and its singles were lukewarm.

Other birthdays: Bob Bogle (Ventures), 61; William Francis (Dr. Hook), 56; and

Paul Webb (Talk Talk), 36.