Dionne Farris lent her voice to Arrested Development’s 1992 summer hit, “Tennessee.” After the group’s lead vocalist Speech completes his final verse, Farris’ gospel-like riff carries the song to the final note.
When Farris released the pop single “I Know,” a Grammy-nominated song, from the album Wild Seed, Wild Flower, she started to cross swords with her label, Columbia. In the '90s R&B music scene, Farris didn’t fit into the box of what was accepted.
In 1997, Dionne finally caught the attention of the R&B crowd that was getting their kicks from 112 and Toni Braxton. Her voice and Van Hunt’s words over an old-school R&B beat became Farris’ next big hit when it appeared on the Love Jones soundtrack.
In her label’s eyes, Farris still wasn’t cutting it as a “black artist," despite the release of "Hopeless." She asked to be released from her label to regain control of her music and her image.
Farris returned to the scene in 2007 with the album For Truth If Not Love and followed up the next year with the 2008 release Signs of Life. Keeping in step with the artistic ingenuity of her first album, Dionne’s music continues to remain on the outskirts of today’s mainstream R&B. And for that, we say, "thank you."
Mark Anthony Neal says that the most popular R&B/pop songstresses all follow the traditional rules for making acceptable R&B music.
Imani Uzuri, according to Neal, doesn’t follow anyone else’s rules but her own when it comes to making music. Ignoring what some classify as “black music,” Uzuri explores rock, hip-hop, trip-hop and soul on her 2008 debut album Her Holy Water: A Black Girl’s Rock Opera.
From the underground world of R&B springs D.C. native Muhsinah Abdul-Karim. In 2008, she released Oscillations: Sine, with notable records “BillieClub” and “Once Again.”
Georgia Anne Muldrow is the offspring of a jazz musician and singer, so it's no surprise that her music is dripping with their influence. Listen to her album Olesi: Fragments of an Earth to see why Muldrow is in a category of her own.