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

Here’s What SWV’s Name Means — and the Major Role TLC Played in the Process

R&B trio SWV didn’t exactly love the name at first — but soon, they realized it described them perfectly.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

What’s in a name? For girl group SWV, their band name is the perfect acronym to describe an R&B trio from New York City with powerhouse pipes.

How to Watch

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

The songstresses’ vocal talents have led to massive hits (you’re humming “I’m So Into You” as you read this, aren’t you?), buckets of award nominations, and bragging rights to Billboard status as an all-time Top 40 girl group

The thrilling threesome joins forces with a just-as-dynamic quartet in SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B, premiering Sunday, March 5, at 9:30/8:30c on Bravo. The six-part series follows the groups as they prepare to share the stage in a joint concert. Yes, there will be velvety harmonies and discordant dramas along the way. To be honest, we’d expect nothing less. 

The stars of SWV — Tamara “Taj” Johnson, Leanne “Lelee” Lyons, and Cheryl “Coko” Gamble — have, after all, rolled with personal and professional roadblocks from the get-go. That even includes how they came up with as their group’s name. 

What Does SWV Stand For?

SWV is shorthand for Sisters With Voices, the perfect descriptor for the ultra-talented trio. It wasn’t always the name for the group, though.

SWV originally looked to the alphabet and their own names for inspiration, but around the same time another girl group was like-minded — and like-lettered.

“We originally called ourselves TLC for Tamara, Leanne and Cheryl,” Taj told Rolling Stone in 2014. “Within six months we got a cease-and-desist letter from Epic claiming they had a TLC and they’ve claimed the name.” 

That other group, of course, was made up of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas,” who would go on to put out hits like “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs” (the latter of which was co-written by two XSCAPE members: Kandi Burruss and Tameka “Tiny” Harris!). 

So, Taj, Lelee, and Coko pivoted to a Plan B and started using a name that was an apt descriptor for what they bring to the table.

“Our manager suggested SWV for Sisters With Voices,” Taj said in the Rolling Stone interview. The trio wasn’t initially so into the name SWV, according to But it grew on them — just like their success that exploded throughout most of the ‘90s.

The group has ultimately sold over 25 million records. SWV eventually disbanded, so the three women could focus on solo careers, but they eventually realized they wanted to get back together. Since their reunion, they’ve gone on tours, released new music, and even competed in a Verzuz battle with the ladies of Xscape.

Chalk that up as a reminder that career paths, just like band names, can change.

For much more about both groups, watch SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B, premiering Sunday, March 5, at 9:30/8:30c on Bravo.

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