1999 was a banner year for female acts. Women like Lauryn Hill and Whitney Houston ruled the airwaves. Ten years later how are these ladies fairing? Are they still pursuing music careers or have they embarked on other journeys? Here are some women that bring to mind the question “Where are they now?”
Cree Summer – Although Summer is best known for the character Freddie Brooks on “A Different World,” she is also a talented singer/songwriter. Released in 1999, her debut album Street Faerie (co-produced with Lenny Kravitz) was not as successful as it should have been. With a mixture of sociopolitical songs backed up to melodies reminiscent of Al Green, Summer’s album unfortunately did not get the airplay that it deserved. Since then she has not released another album and has done mostly voice over work for cartoons and video games. Perhaps if given another chance Summer will be able to release another album like Street Faerie.
Whitney Houston – 1999 was Houston’s year. She was on a world tour promoting her album “My Love is Your Love,” which gave birth to a string of hits. Four songs from the album were in the top ten on various musical charts ranging from R&B to billboard – and her single “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” won Houston a Grammy. Then her life took a downturn. Between the drug use and the marriage to Bobby Brown, Houston’s voice is not the power house it once was. However, the single from her new album sounds promising – and although she seems not to be able to hit the notes she did with songs like “I Have Nothing,” she is showing that she is still a force to be reckoned with.
Melissa Etheridge – Etheridge was riding high musically in the ’90s. In 1999, she released the album “Breakdown” which gave birth to two hits that took turns up and down a myriad of music charts. Etheridge writes and sings from her experiences and that’s what makes this album so heart-wrenching to listen to. The title song is particularly hard to listen to, yet because of the amazing musicianship, you are compelled to listen to the song and the rest of the album. Her acoustic guitar brings to life every emotion and heartbreak in each track. Surprisingly, little of this album is known to all but the hardcore Etheridge fan. Perhaps a rer-elease is in order.
TLC – T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli had hip/hop R&B magic. With a string of hits and bankruptcy behind them, the album “Fan mail” helped establish them as a powerful girl group who had something to say. The album spawned four hits and numerous awards. The biggest hit of their career (“No Scrubs”) was among them. This track was the summer anthem for every woman who knew some man that was constantly “Hanging out the passenger side/Of his best friend’s ride/Trying to holler at me.” Incidentally, it was co-written by Kandi Burress (member of the girl group XScape) who is working on a solo album and is currently on the “Housewives of Atlanta.” Unfortunately, Lisa Left Eye Lopes was killed in a car crash and the band has never been the same. It is a shame, but the group has left us with music written for their fans.
Deborah Cox – R&B exploded in 1999 and Cox’s album One Wish was no exception. The album was extremely successful because of the song “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here.” Cox showed a range that was only hinted at on her previous album. From that successful album to the current one, Cox has been releasing albums and touring to promote them as well as working on her acting skills. In 2004, she portrayed the title role in Aida on Broadway. Ten years after the release of One Wish her newest release album The Promise is currently stalling on the charts. The single “Did You Ever Love Me” is standard R&B fare, but we will have to wait and see how these tracks will do on the charts.
Britney Spears – Splashed onto the music scene with “Baby One More Time”. Her music video that companion-ed the song gave birth to a new generation of the teenage demographic. Since Spears first song the phrase tweens has been synonymous with the bubble-gum pop that Spears began her recording career performing. In 2009 after the shaved hair incident, baby-father drama, and her fortune being over-seen by her father, Spears is currently on tour promoting her latest album Circus. Apt title.
Christina Aguilera – What a voice. In 1999, Aguilera came out with the self-titled album that featured her first big hit “Genie in a Bottle”. Her hair and clothing styles have gone through various incarnations, but the powerful voice has remained. Currently Aguilera is working on a yet to be titled album set for release in the fall. She is yet another songstress who will be celebrating a milestone.
Shakira – This crossover singer attempted to conquer the music scene in 1999. With the album Donde Estan Los Ladrones burning up the charts all over the world, Shakira released an MTV Unplugged album that showcased her voice and her versatility as an artist. Though some may disagree on her talent, they cannot argue about the impact she has had on the last decade. At this time, Shakira is promoting her newest album She Wolf and is working on an all Spanish album set for a 2010 release.
Faith Evans – Known more for her brief marriage to the Notorious BIG, Evans has a voice that is reminiscent of singers such as Aretha Franklin. Her song-styling played over a hip hop track or singing alongside Whitney Houston on the 1999 hit single “Heartbreak Hotel” shows that Evans is a vocalist to be reckoned with. Although released in 1998, Evans’ album Keep the Faith garnished several hits in 1999. For the past 4 years she has been collaborating and guest-voicing on songs by other artists. She has also penned a memoir, showing that she is more than the widow of Christopher Wallace. It is unknown if she is planning to go into the studio anytime soon.
Dido – Seems to be the soundtrack queen. Through a series of delays her album No Angel wasn’t released until 1998. However in 1999 with the release of the hit single “Thank You”, Dido became known to the American audience. Eminem did help expose her further to the U.S. when he sampled snippets from “Thank You” on his crossover hit single “Stan”. Since then Dido’s songs have been featured on soundtracks for shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her next album will be out in 2010.
These entertainers have given their listening audiences hours of musical entertainment. Some are still plugging away in the business and for those who no longer pursue the musical route, we wish you a speedy return. Either way your fans are eager to see what is in store for these amazing women.