By the late '80s, hip-hop was on its way to becoming a male-dominated art form, which is what made the emergence of Salt-n-Pepa so significant. As the first all-female rap crew (even their DJs were women) of importance, the group broke down a number of doors for women in hip-hop. They were also one of the first rap artists to cross over into the pop mainstream, laying the groundwork for the music's widespread acceptance in the early '90s.
Salt-n-Pepa were more pop-oriented than many of their contemporaries, since their songs were primarily party and love anthems, driven by big beats and interlaced with vaguely pro-feminist lyrics that seemed more powerful when delivered by the charismatic and sexy trio. While songs like "Push It" and "Shake Your Thang" made the group appear to be a one-hit pop group during the late '80s, Salt-n-Pepa defied expectations and became one of the few hip-hop artists to develop a long-term career.
En Vogue, current members Cindy Herron-Braggs, Terry Ellis and Rhona Bennett are recognized as one of the top 5 highest selling American female music groups in history, En Vogue has sold over 20 million albums to date. Their effortless transition into the digital age, complemented by their effortless chic, has garnered the group over 30 million streams and 26 million-plus YouTube views on their Top 6 hit singles alone; smashes such as Hold On, Free Your Mind, Never Gonna Get It, Giving Him Something He Can Feel, Don’t Let Go, and Whatta Man (feat. Salt N Pepa).
When not on the road, they donate their time to philanthropic causes such as The HollyRod Foundation, which provides medical, physical, and emotional support to families living with autism and individuals battling Parkinson’s disease. They also support non-profit organizations that rescue victims from human trafficking and provide them with educational and job training.
Since their debut, En Vogue has set the standard for female R&B/Pop groups and promise to continue that tradition into the future for a new legion. Their appeal is timeless; and in a world full of ‘one-hit’ wonders, that makes their new collection of music – timely.
One of the music industry’s most distinctive voices, Rick Astley has left an indelible mark on pop-culture since his emergence into the limelight nearly three decades ago.
With well over 40 million records sold, and an enviable back-catalogue of chart-topping hits, Astley remains one of the most successful solo artists to have ever emerged from these isles, and holds the distinction of being the first male solo artist to see his first eight singles reach the UK Top Ten.
Raised in the inauspicious surrounds of Newton-Le-Willows, deep in Lancashire coal-mining country, Rick honed his craft on the regional music circuit as a fresh-faced teen. Performing first in his local church choir, and then on drums with soul band FBI, Astley soon became a familiar face for music fans in pubs and clubs across the North of England. However, it would take the unexpected departure of FBI’s vocalist to allow Astley to first step up and take centre-stage.
Blowing over audiences with that soon-to-be-familiar rich baritone married with a stage presence that belied his tender years, it wasn’t long before producers came calling. An offer to work alongside renowned hitmaker Pete Waterman soon followed – a move that would transform the young artist’s life forever.
Just twenty-one years old when he unleashed the iconic “Never Gonna Give You Up”; few debut singles have had the impact of Astley’s. Taking instant residence in the charts; the smash became the UK’s biggest selling single of 1987, going on to hit number one in 16 countries. The song became the centrepiece of debut album “Whenever You Need Somebody”.
The album would go on to sell an astonishing 15 million copies worldwide, establishing Astley within the industry elite as one of the most exciting new acts on the planet. Making waves across the Atlantic, hits “It Would Take A Strong Strong Man” and “Together Forever” won acclaim stateside, cracking the US Top 10, and earning Astley a coveted Grammy nomination for ‘Best New Artist’ in the process.
Any worries of a sophomore slump were allayed by the swift critical praise for follow-up album “Hold Me In Your Arms”, led by its Top 10-charting titular single. Further hits “She Wants To Dance With Me” and “Take Me To Your Heart” became firm fan favourites, as Astley took them on the road on his first sell-out world tour.
Astley expanded his musical horizons throughout the ‘90s, delving deeper into his love for soul. First came the deeply personal “Free”, collaborating with legends Elton John and Andrea Crouch and containing a number of self-penned tracks; followed hot on its heels by “Body And Soul”, cementing his reputation with further hits “The Ones You Love” and “Hopelessly”.
Re-emerging into the spotlight in 2001, after a prolonged sabbatical to concentrate on raising his family, album “Keep It Turned On” proved a comprehensive demonstration of his unique versatility, boasting a bold new mix of dance tracks, club hits, and ballads. Continuing to defy expectations, Astley then turned his attentions towards covering classics with his latest studio effort “Portrait”: putting his inimitable mark on old favourites from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and The Carpenters.
Evidence of his enduring popularity came with confirmation that his “Greatest Hits” compilation, released in 2002, had gone gold. Later, propelled by the “Never Gonna Give You Up”’s second life as an internet phenomenon - re-entering the charts a full two decades after its initial release – Astley made a full-time return to performing live. He has since sold out arenas on almost every continent, wowing fans in Argentina, Japan, Australia, and beyond.
2016 has seen Rick return with a bang! Not only did he release his latest Number 1 album ‘50’ which has sold an astonishing 150,000 copies becoming the 8th best-selling album in the UK this year, but also sell out all 21 dates of his 2017 UK tour, propelling him back in the limelight. With TV appearances including Children in Need, Strictly Come Dancing and his singles all over the radio, Rick Astley shows no sign of slowing down in 2017.
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