Powered by lush harmonies and frank, vulnerable lyrics laid over hip-hop influenced production, SWV ushered in a new era of R&B in the ‘90s. SWV—an abbreviation for Sisters With Voices—was formed by Cheryl “Coko” Gamble, Leanne “Lelee” Lyons, and Tamara “Taj” Johnson in New York City in the late 1980s. With backgrounds in gospel, the trio was inspired to move toward R&B by the success of the innovative Boston-based singing group New Edition. The influence of that band suffuses SWV’s first album, 1992’s It’s About Time, which spawned multiple successful singles, including the masterfully layered, high-energy “I’m So Into You” and the emotionally raw ballad “Weak.” By melding their personal styles with the burgeoning subgenre of new jack swing, SWV crafted a sound all their own, one that exuded passion, romance, self-worth, and autonomy. SWV’s 1996 followup, New Beginning, introduced the group’s evolved take on the hip-hop/R&B hybridized style on such tracks as “You’re the One,” a serenade with bounce about committing to an inevitably blissful partnership. The following year, the group delivered Release Some Tension, highlighted by the reflective, metaphorically rich “Rain.” After a 15-year hiatus, SWV reunited in 2012 for I Missed Us, a throwback to their early work that was simultaneously forward-thinking in its modern R&B production. In 2016, the group released the sleek and sensual Still, advancing their commitment to consistently updating the blueprint for contemporary soul.
ORIGINNew York, NY