TV One’s newest reality series “R&B Divas: LA” announces cast
Season one of network franchise begins production in Los Angeles this month
ABOVE PHOTO: Dawn Robinson.
SILVER SPRING, MD--The next chapter in TV One’s highly successful R&B Divas reality franchise unfolds with new series “R&B Divas: LA”. The series, following the lives and careers of Kelly Price, Chante Moore, Lil’ Mo, Claudette Ortiz, Michel’le and Dawn Robinson, will begin production this month in Los Angeles with an anticipated premiere on TV One in Q3 2013.
Over eight episodes, viewers and fans will follow these multitalented ladies as they seek to individually and collectively re-establish themselves in the pop culture limelight with new deals, new drama and new directions for their careers and their lives. Success is the only option for these six friends - but is there room at the top for them all?
Kelly Price’s musical roots were planted in church, where she began singing in the children’s choir at age 2. Her double-Platinum debut album, Soul of a Woman, featuring the record-breaking single “Friend of Mine,” made history as the first to garner the #1 spot on the singles chart without an accompanying video, a rare feat during the era when music videos were the driving force of popular culture. Price returned to center stage three years later with the Platinum-plus seller “Mirror, Mirror,” led by her remake of the R&B classic “As We Lay,” and followed up with the Gold-selling holiday collection One Family: A Christmas Album.
Three years after releasing Priceless, she returned to her roots to release the live gospel album This Is Whom I Am. The album included the uplifting single “Healing,” which reached the top of the gospel charts and was also recognized at the 2007 ASCAP Awards as one of the top five songs played across both R&B and gospel genres during 2006. She has collaborated with artists including Mariah Carey, George Michael, Elton John, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Faith Evans, Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston and James Brown.
Additionally, Price has modeled for Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart and taken her talents to the screen and stage with roles in the films Soul Food and Bringing Down the House and the plays Why Did I Get Married? and The Bible Experience. Her latest album, Kelly was released in 2011. In addition to focusing on conquering the music business, Price also is dedicated to her marriage to Jeffrey Rolle, who is also her manager, and their three children.
Music is in Chante Moore’s blood. Born the daughter of a minister, Moore grew up singing in church and went signed her first record deal at age 22 after she was discovered at a beauty pageant. Moore’s career has included several hit singles that have topped Billboard R&B and Pop charts, including “Love’s Taken Over,” “It’s Alright,” “I’m What You Need” and “Chante’s Got A Man.”
Revered in the industry for her four-octave vocal range, the accomplished singer also has worked on numerous outside projects, including the single “One More Time” with Kenny G, “Your Home Is in My Heart” with Boyz II Men for the How Stella Got Her Groove Back movie soundtrack, and “Wey U” on the award-winning soundtrack for the film Waiting to Exhale.
Moore has been nominated for multiple Soul Train Music Awards and NAACP Image Awards , and won the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Single, Group, Band or Duo for the song “Contagious,” featuring The Isley Brothers. On the stage, Moore has appeared in Otis Sallid’s Gospel! Gospel! Gospel at the Wilshire Ebell Theater. Recently divorced, the mother of two is set to star on Broadway in the musical Gospel Soul Rock ‘n’ Roll and has an album set for release in 2013.
Cynthia Loving, a.k.a. Lil’ Mo, has made a name for herself as an R&B singer, radio personality, songwriter and record producer. The power of this self-appointed “Godmother of Hip-Hop and R&B” may take some by surprise; while many artists spin tales of their hard-knock childhoods, Lil’ Mo’s family was often called the “fake Cosbys.”
A talented songwriter, Lil’ Mo secured a production deal with Flavahood Entertainment, and even before the ink on her contract was dry, Missy Elliott selected one of her tracks for the album Da Real World. Before long, Lil’ Mo’s list of writing and performance credits read like a “Who’s Who” of Hip-hop and R&B, including collaborations with heavy hitters like Fabolous, Jay-Z, Keith Sweat, Black Street and Lil Bow Wow.
Lil’ Mo’s most notable collaborations include “Hot Boyz,” with Missy Elliott, “Put it on Me,” with Ja Rule, and “5 minutes,” with R&B Divas: LA co-star Kelly Price. After leaving the music business to focus on her family with husband and manager Phillip Bryant and her four children (ranging in age from 10 to 4 months), Lil’ Mo is ready to stage a comeback and prove to her kids that she is the greatest.
Singer and former model Claudette Ortiz made a splash on the music scene as the lead singer of the popular R&B/Hip-hop group City High. The trio, best known for their 2001 Grammy(R)-nominated single “What Would You Do?” disbanded in 2003. Ortiz and former City High member Ryan Toby are remembered not only for their music but also for their tumultuous marriage, which eventually ended in 2007.
Ortiz launched her solo career and released her first single, “Can’t Get Enough,” which peaked at #89 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #37 on the U.S. R&B chart. Now, the single mother of three who once considered enlisting in the Air Force reserves to ensure her family’s financial stability is now back and focused on reviving her music career.
Dawn Robinson made a name for herself in the music industry as the youngest member of female R&B vocal group En Vogue. Known for their hits “Free Your Mind,” “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and “Hold On,” En Vogue won seven MTV Video Music Awards - more than any other female group in MTV history -along with four Soul Train Awards and six American Music Awards. They also garnered seven Grammy nominations. According to Billboard Magazine, En Vogue was the 18th most successful act of the 1990s and one of the most popular and successful female groups of all time, with more than 2,800 accumulated weeks on various Billboard charts.
After En Vogue disbanded, Robinson flipped the script and joined Raphael Saadiq (Toni, Tony Tone!) and Ali Shaheed Muhammed to release a one-off album under the group name Lucy Pearl. Their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut went Gold and yielded hit singles “Dance Tonight” and “Don’t Mess With My Man.”
In 2002, Robinson married singer/songwriter Dre Allen and released her first solo effort, entitled Dawn. Robinson and Allen divorced in 2007. Now single, with a divorce and several hit records behind her, Robinson is focused on releasing a book, forming another girl group, “GLAMM,” and taking her artistry to the next level.
Michel’le Toussaint, or simply Michel’le, is known for her high-pitched, mousy speaking voice - a great contrast to her strong vocals. The R&B singer got her start as the featured female vocalist on World Class Wreckin’ Cru’s 1987 single “Turn Off the Lights” and quickly signed to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records.
In 1989, she released her self-titled debut album that was produced entirely by then-boyfriend Dr. Dre. The album featured “No More Lies” and the hit singles “Nicety” and “Something in My Heart.” The couple had a son together but broke up shortly after Dr. Dre parted ways with Death Row Records, and in 1997, Michel’le agreed to marry Death Row Records CEO/Founder Suge Knight while he was serving a prison sentence for assault and battery.
In 1998, she released her third solo effort, Hung Jury, on Death Records. She went on to marry Shug Knight in 1999, and the couple had one daughter together before divorcing in 2002. The singer’s last recording was the song “I Know Where I’m Going” on the Dysfunktional Family soundtrack in 2003.
Now a single mother, Michel’le is working on reclaiming her place in music, writing a memoir and trying to make time to reenter the dating scene.
+ Top Story
To witness Naomie Harris become Winnie Mandela in Justin Chadwick’s upcoming film adaptation, Mandela: Long to Freedom, is to witness true cinematic transformation. So, when Harris told me that she didn’t know much about Winnie Mandela before the role was offered to her, I was intrigued.
More awards for Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years a Slave – this time among the New York Film Critics Online, which on Sunday voted it best film, best actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, and best supporting actress for Lupita Nyong’o. Fruitvale Station helmer Ryan Coogler picked up the award for Debut Director.
Sony Pictures has just released the first image of Denzel Washington (above photo) in next year’s action thriller The Equalizer. Based on the popular 1980’s CBS series (which was a real favorite of mine back then) and starring the late British actor Edward Woodward as the Equalizer...
Kasi Lemmons continues to tantalize creatively with her thought provoking body of work. Her work as an actress includes roles in Silence of the Lambs opposite Jodie Foster, and Spike Lee’s School Daze, as well as Hard Target, Fear of a Black Hat, Candyman and Vampire’s Kiss.
Russell Baze’s is stuck in a dead-end job at a rural Pennsylvania steel mill rumored to be closing soon. He’s not in a position to abandon the Rust Belt in search of greener pastures, between having to care for his terminally-ill, widowed father and a kid brother, Rodney Jr., suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
At 10:30AM on Tuesday morning, Kim Fields said hello to the latest addition to their family; a baby boy. Fields kind of stole the spotlight from Halle Berry over the summer, who surprised many by announcing she was pregnant at the age of 47.
With the Thanksgiving holiday falling about as late as possible this year, the typical year-end glut of film releases is on an abbreviated schedule. Perhaps for that reason, a healthy percentage of award-friendly movies have already come our way, including 12 Years a Slave...
Nelson “Mandiba” Mandela (Idris Elba) secretly started writing his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” while still serving what he had every reason to believe might very well be a life sentence on Robben Island. The lawyer-turned-spokesman for the outlawed African National Congress had been...