Released: April 3, 1990
Producer: Denzil Foster, Thomas McElroy, David Lombard.
When you think of girl groups in the 90s, En Vogue should ALWAYS come to mind. Formed in 1989 with the original lineup of Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron-Braggs, Maxine Jones & Terry Ellis.
Originally conceived as a trio, their longtime producers & songwriting duo Denzil Foster & Thomas McElroy wanted to bring a modern day girl group to pay homage to the successful girl groups of the 50s & 60s like The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, & many more.
Born To Sing was released on April 3rd, 1990. Musically, it contains a mixture of hip hop soul, pop, new jack swing, rap & R&B. It was certified platinum by the RIAA, & was number 3 on the R&B album charts. Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you: En Vogue’s Born to Sing!
Party is an intro on the album that has the ladies at a party dealing with men approaching them. The song contains a sample of The J.B.’s “Pass The Peas.”
Strange wasn’t released as a single, but it was on their Remix to Sing compilation and a popular song in the dance clubs. The song is a tale of Maxine & Dawn (who sings lead on this song) speak of their frustrations and how suspicious they are of their partner(s). It’s one of my favorites. The song samples Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry & One Nation Under a Groove by Funkadelic.
Lies is the second single from Born to Sing, & was a number one hit! Featuring rapper Debbie T, Cindy & Dawn sang lead on this record and gave us VOCALS!
Hip Hop Bugle Boy
A cover of The Andrews Sisters 1941 hit, En Vogue gives the iconic WWII number a hip hop inspired twist.
Written by En Vogue, McElroy & Foster, Hold On was one of the most successful singles of 1990. The Grammy nominated bop starts off with an acapella rendition of The Jackson 5’s “Who’s Loving You,” & goes into the hip hop beat with impeccable vocals from the ladies.
The biggest takeaway from this record is how in sync the original lineup was life. LIFE I tell ya! Hold On samples James Brown’s “The Payback,” & is sampled by LL Cool J, Jay Z & Ice Cube.
Part of Me
Part of Me is an inspirational ballad! One of my favorite album cuts.
You Don’t Have To Worry
The third single from the album was “You Don’t Have To Worry. The new jack swing influenced bop is lead by Cindy, & she doesn’t disappoint! It samples James Brown, Jungle Brothers & Yes.
Time Goes On
Another swing number from the girls! Another album cut that’s flawless. This song samples Kraftwerk’s Musique Non Stop.
Just Can’t Stay Away
One of my favorite En Vogue songs is a cover of Natalie Cole’s “Just Can’t Stay Away” from her 1977 Thankful album.
They also had the opportunity to sing the song with Natalie! Look at Terry y’all!
Terry Ellis had her FOOT on the girls necks with “Don’t Go.” It was the fourth and final single from the album, & is a ballad about not wanting your lover to leave you. 🗣 it was sampled by Kirk Bangz for his song “Ain’t A Pimp.”
Luv Lines is another slept in gem from the girls.
Waitin’ On You
My favorite En Vogue song with Dawn on lead vocals is Waitin’ On You. Mama had TIME!
The original line up of En Vogue is missed because they were truly incomparable. Their harmonies were flawless. Their vocal blend was luscious and very sweet. The group went on to have an even successful career with their follow up album (which will get an album review soon,) & much more! The original lineup isn’t together anymore, but we do appreciate their contributions to black music & black culture in the early 90s. -MJ