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The Daily Dish SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B

Movie Soundtracks, a Hit Remix and More Moments That Sealed SWV as R&B Icons

Hailing from New York, SWV began with three teens — Leanne “Lelee” Lyons, Cheryl “Coko” Clemons, and Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George — who created their own R&B sound and became one of the best-selling girl groups of all time.

By Jill Sederstrom

The harmonic voices of SWV dominated the R&B world in the 1990s, ultimately making them one of the best-selling girl groups of all time.

How to Watch

Catch up on SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B on Peacock or the Bravo App.

Growing up in New York, Leanne “Lelee” Lyons, Cheryl “Coko” Clemons, and Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George were just teens when they joined together in the late '80s to create the iconic group, which is still active and thriving today.

SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B follows the women, as well as their counterparts in XSCAPE, as they try to pull off a show-stopping one-night concert event featuring both female groups.

SWV’s road to success has been paved with chart-topping hits, killer collaborations, and a rap-infused R&B style all their own — but it hasn’t been without its hurdles or even a break-up.

Travel back to some of SWV’s most memorable moments as they established themselves as a force to be reckoned with and see why they’re considered R&B icons.

SWV’s Debut Album Establishes Them as Stars

Lelee, Coko, and Taj got their start singing in church before joining together to create SWV (an abbreviation for “Sisters With Voices.”)

SWV made their debut in 1992 with their first album It’s About Time. The now-multi-platinum album quickly resonated with listeners who embraced hits like “Right Here,” “Weak,” and “I’m So Into You,” according to Vibe.

Their biggest single “Weak” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, where it stayed for two weeks.

“We had success with ‘Right Here,’ then ‘I’m So Into You’ came out and that’s when people really noticed us. But when ‘Weak’ came out that really sealed us,” Taj told Vibe.

The success quickly skyrocketed the trio into R&B stars and in 1993 they were nominated for 11 Billboard Music awards, Soultracks reports.

SWV Combines with Michael Jackson for “Right Here (Human Nature Remix)”

While their debut single “Right Here” received acclaim, it wasn’t until SWV came out with a remixed version sampling Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit “Human Nature” the following year that it became a true classic in their collection.

Lelee told Atlanta Black Star that Jackson gave the rights to music producer Teddy Riley, who in turn provided the sample to SWV free of charge.

“Anything” Works Its Way on to Soundtracks

A remix of SWV’s track “Anything” made its way onto the silver screen as part of the soundtrack for the basketball movie Above The Rim, starring Tupac Shakur and Duane Martin, according to Essence.

The remix, known as the “Old Skool Version,” featured Wu-Tang Clan in a collaboration Lelee would later describe to Vibe as “off the chain.”

“We had a ball with them,” she said.

The music video for the song — which ultimately reached #4 on the R&B charts — included hot scenes of Coko snuggled up with supermodel Tyson Beckford at the start of his career.

SWV's Sophomore Album New Beginnings Leads to More Hits

SWV released their second album, New Beginnings, in 1996, which featured chart-topping singles like “You’re The One” and “Use Your Heart.”

SWV Does Collaborations with Big Name Artists

The group’s third studio album, Release Some Tension, dropped the following year, featuring big name guest appearances from artists like Sean “Diddy” Combs, Snoop Dog, Redman, and Lil’ Kim, according to Essence.

One of the stand-out hits on the album was “Can We,” a collaboration with Missy Elliott that was also featured on the soundtrack for Booty Call starring Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Vivica A. Fox, and Tommy Davidson.

“We had some of the dopest remixes,” Lelee told Vibe.

RELATED: The Best XSCAPE Music Vides You Need to See

SWV’s Breakup Impacts Each Member

While the group was still enjoying success, trouble was brewing under the surface.

The group broke up in 1998 amid growing tension among the trio — giving Coko the opportunity to embark on a solo career of her own.

“SWV were going through some changes,” Coko explained to MTV Radio Network the next year. “You know, we had communications problems. The unity was gone and the friendship was gone, basically. That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. It was either we were gonna get it together or we weren’t. And we couldn’t get it together, so we had to go. And that was it.”

Coko focused on her own career, releasing her first solo album, Hot Coko, in 1999, before later going on to carve a niche for herself in the gospel industry.

While Coko continued to sing, Taj signed a modeling deal with the Ford Agency and married NFL star Eddie George.

These years were more of a struggle for Lelee, a mom of two, who found herself broke before going back to school to get her GED and getting a job at an accounting agency, according to Rolling Stone.

A Long-Awaited Reunion for SWV

SWV reunited in 2005 after the group began to gain traction in Japan and were sought after by Japanese promoters eager to fund a tour, the news outlet reports.

After reuniting, they hit a rhythm that worked for all three members — often taking breaks to allow group members to pursue solo endeavors.

Their fourth album, I Missed Us, was subsequently released in 2011.

SWV Becomes Reality Stars

The trio’s star power skyrocketed when WE TV tapped them as its newest reality stars in 2014 for the hit SWV Reunited.

“We shot a pilot and the girls just popped,” Lauren Gellert, senior vice president of Original Production and Development for the network, told Rolling Stone that year. “They were really funny, especially when we put the three of them together. We also realized there was so much unresolved stuff from their past they had to address.”

SWV’s Legacy Today

More than two decades after SWV first hit the radio waves, the group was honored for their accomplishments and influence on the industry in 2017 with the Lady of Soul award, according to BET.

Then, in 2021, SWV shared the stage with their fellow ‘90s icons XSCAPE in an epic battle on Verzuz.

The upcoming SWV & XSCAPE: The Queen of R&B premiering March 5 at 9:30/8:30c on Bravo, once again brings the women from both groups as they strive to pull off a collaborative concert.

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