And Forever" is not a phrase usually associated with a fickle music
business, especially in recent times when one-hit wonders and
manufactured artists have been especially prevalent. But for Silk,
one of the few vocal groups to breakthrough in the hip-hop era, the
phrase applies not only to their own longevity--seventeen years and
counting with the current line-up featuring the four original
members who have been together throughout--but also to the quality
of their music which features finely crafted harmony singing and
lyrics that deal with timeless issues of love, romance and sex. With
the release of their seventh album "Always And Forever", their debut
release on Shanachie Entertainment on October 17th, Silk brings
their vocal artistry to a hand-picked selection of songs that have
inspired them as simultaneous homage to artists who they respect and
musical statement of the ultimate quality of Silk's music.
The album, which
features Silk's interpretations of major hits by Blue Magic, Switch,
Shalamar, Prince, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Heatwave and
others, simply builds on something Silk had already been doing.
The young men who
formed Silk grew up in Atlanta. Three of them met each other in the
late Eighties in the course of working at a particular McDonald's.
Soon --Gary "Big G" Glenn, Jonathan "John John" Rasboro, Tim "Timzo"
Cameron and Jimmy Gates (Tim and Jimmy were cousins)--got together
around their mutual love of singing. They sang whenever and wherever
they could ("I don't think there's a church in Atlanta we DIDN'T
sing at," laughs Gary) at talent shows, clubs, churches and in the
streets. Louise Ferguson, who is their manager today, was determined
to get them a shot with Keith Sweat who didn't particularly want to
audition the unknown wanna-be's. So when Keith came to a barbeque at
Louise's house, she invited Silk to come over and they discreetly
went down in the basement and started singing for the kids there.
Keith heard them and liked what he heard enough to make Silk the
first group signed to his Keia label in 1992 and they were featured
on "two of Keith's tracks on his "Keep It Coming" album. Silk's
first single, "Happy Days" was garnering radio play but then "Freak
Me", another cut from their first album, starting generating radio
play spontaneously and when released a single became a Number 1 R&B
hit and Number 1 pop hit. It was quickly followed by two Top Ten R&B
hits--"Lose Control" and "Girl U For Me, which grew into a string of
hits throughout the Nineties including "Hooked On You", "I Can Go
Deep", "If You ("Lovin' Me")and "Meeting In My Bedroom". Their
signature sound was dubbed "baby-making music."
Silk's audience has
grown up along with them and some of the children who were the
result of "baby-making music" are now teenagers.
It's a difficult
challenge for even a solo artist to survive in the cut-throat music
industry and even more so for a group to stay together. Fourteen
years together since the release of their first single, what's
"I think a lot of
prayer, patience and understanding," says Gary Glenn. "We don't
always realize how important our commitment to each other has been.
It's like being in a marriage that you REFUSE to leave. It's like "I
got this ring and I ain't going NOWHERE!" But we all bow down to
what's important to Silk. And in the end, we just love singing