Many artists are deep inside the music industry before the masses ever learn their names. Sometimes, future stars are hiding in plain sight while performing in mid-level music groups. Before Pink hit fame in 2000, she was in a girl group called Choice that was signed to LaFace Records. R. Kelly had hits with his group, Public Announcement, and Bjork was an indie rocker in the Sugarcubes before becoming an electronic phenomenon. Which other acts left bands behind to embark on successful solo careers? Read on for more!
Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson, former member of Wild OrchidWhat was Fergie doing between Kids Incorporated and her Black Eyed Peas years? She was in Wild Orchid, a late`90s pop trio (she’s pictured at the right). The group released its self-titled first album in 1996, hitting the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #153. The ladies had well-known songs on soundtracks from 1997’s Fools Rush In and 2000’s What Women Want.
Wild Orchid snagged Billboard and Soul Train Lady Of Soul award nominations for their first LP and opened for Cher’s tour in 1999. Just as Wild Orchid saw its star slowly rise, Fergie got involved with drugs. She left to join the Black Eyed Peas in 2002, while the other members, Renee Sandstrom and Stefanie Ridel, formed a duo act. Wild Orchid officially disbanded in 2003, while Fergie became a chart-topper with the Black Eyed Peas and as a solo artist.
Sandstrom and Ridel still have hands in the entertainment business. Sandstrom records children’s music while Ridel is a songwriter for artists like Miley Cyrus and Christina Aguilera.
Missy Elliot, former member of Sista (also known as Fayze)
Years before Missy Elliott blew up with songs like 1997’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” she fronted an R&B girl group called Sista. Originally formed as Fayze in the early `90s, the group was rechristened Sista by mentor DeVante Swing of Jodeci.
Sista released a few singles in 1994, but their LP was shelved. Elliott kept busy by writing and producing for other artists, including Aaliyah, before making it big. It’s hard to tell what Sista’s other members — Chonita Coleman, La’Shawn Shellman, and Radiah Scott — are up to nowadays, but judging from the clip above, the ladies made beautiful music together.
Bjork, former member of the SugarcubesBjork (second from left) had been in at least three bands before going solo. The most successful group was the Sugarcubes, which formed in 1986 the same day Bjork gave birth to her son. The Icelandic band’s 1988 first album, Life’s Too Good, received acclaim in the U.K. and the U.S. Though the members gained a cult following, their next two albums failed to impress critics to the same degree as their debut.
The Sugarcubes split in 1992. While Bjork remains the most famous former member, she’s not the only one in the public eye. Co-vocalist Einar Orn became a local Reykjavik politician, while bassist Bragi Olafsson enjoyed a renowned literary career.
Dr. Dre, former member of the World Class Wreckin’ CruN.W.A. wasn’t the only group that had Dr. Dre (far left) as a member. Only the most ardent hip-hop fans know about Dre’s time with the World Class Wreckin’ Cru, which released its first album in 1985. The LP, World Class, used elements from R&B and electronic funk to form a pioneering West Coast sound.
The Cru was popular in Los Angeles’ burgeoning hip-hop scene, with Dre serving as a DJ and producer. However, Dre sought side projects with Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records while with the group. As one of the Cru’s final albums hit the R&B charts in 1988, N.W.A. was already making a splash.
Dre notably went on toward a legendary solo career and became one of hip-hop’s richest producers, but what happened to some of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru’s other members? Founder Alonzo “Lonzo” Williams continues to publish and write music, while vocalist Shakespeare reportedly became a pastor.
Britney Spears, former member of InnosensePop group Innosense formed in the late `90s with Britney Spears as a member. Lou Pearlman, the mogul behind the Backstreet Boys and *NSync, managed the group. Innosense went through lineup changes early on, with Spears leaving for her solo career. Another member, Amanda Latona, also ditched the group.
Even with a proven marketing formula, Innosense never made it big. The ladies appeared in Longshot, a movie produced by Pearlman, and released singles via film and TV soundtracks. The group also opened for Spears on her 2000 tour. The members only released one album before disbanding in the early `00s.
None of Innosense’s members reached Spears’ level of fame. Amanda Latona became a well-known fitness instructor after her singing career stalled. Nikki DeLoach and Danay Ferrer had acting gigs, while Mandy Ashford posed for Playboy and starred in commercials.
Tori Amos, former member of Y Kant Tori Read
Tori Amos’ band, Y Kant Tori Read, released its first and only album in 1988. Amos recruited popular producer Joe Chiccarelli for the self-titled LP, but it tanked. The record is now out of print. Despite its synth-driven sound, bootleg copies of the album still circulate among diehard fans of Amos’ alternative rock.
Some of the band’s other members have kept their feet in the music business. Steve Caton played with other bands and collaborated with Amos throughout the `90s. Matt Sorum delved into hard rock, becoming a drummer for Guns N’ Roses.
R. Kelly, former member of Public AnnouncementFans first met R. Kelly (second from right) via a Chicago singing group called Public Announcement. The group’s 1992 debut LP, Born Into The 90’s, included chart-topping hits like “Honey Love.” Despite Public Announcement’s early success, Kelly left the other members behind after a 1993 tour.
Public Announcement has since seen various lineup changes and small bumps of fame. The 1998 single, “Body Bumpin’ (Yippie-Yi-Yo),” climbed up the R&B and pop charts. Other hits included “Mamacita” and “Man Ain’t Supposed To Cry.” The group is officially still together, but they’ve yet to replicate Kells’ stardom.
Alecia “Pink” Moore, former member of Choice
Pink was in a group before her solo stint began in 2000. Choice, an R&B trio was signed to LaFace Records in 1995. Shaquille O’Neal’s 1996 film Kazaam featured Choice on its soundtrack. The group’s single, “Key To My Heart,” was part of an album that wound up being shelved. LaFace executive L.A. Reid reportedly urged Pink to pursue a career on her own as Choice disbanded in the late `90s.
While Pink is still heating up the music scene, it appears former Choice member Stephanie Galligan faded into obscurity. The other member, Chrissy Conway, joined a Christian band in 1999. The band, ZOEgirl, broke up in 2006, but recently reunited in 2013.
Busta Rhymes, former member of Leaders Of The New SchoolFollowers of hip-hop’s Native Tongues movement know about Leaders Of The New School, but younger Busta Rhymes (pictured right) fans aren’t aware of his early `90s group. LONS released its first LP, A Future Without A Past…, in 1991.
The group is also known for its featured slot on A Tribe Called Quest’s 1992 track, “Scenario.” Busta’s outlandish lyrical style stood out on the song, leading to group tensions. After a second album, LONS split in 1993. Busta began a series of guest spots on other artists’ tracks before launching his solo career in 1996. The group actually had a song on Busta’s debut album.
Former members Charlie Brown and Dinco D are reportedly still writing and recording music. They joined Busta onstage in 2012 at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival.