"Always 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 Silk's secret?

"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 together."


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