Modern music history would be amiss if there wasn't at least a chapter in every decade about the legendary group known as CAMEO. From the seventies through today, Cameo has been churning out trailblazing hits, and selling upwards to ten million albums. The group's pivotal sounds have marked major turning points in music.
Cameo's long string of successful albums include Real Men Wear Black (1990), Emotional Violence (1991), In the Face of Funk (1994), Nasty (1996) and Sexy Sweet Thing (2000). 2002's spectacular Anthology, a double-disc set also released by Mercury, covers a lot of ground and does the group justice as a total package.
Cameo's worldwide breakthrough with the WORD UP- LP shook things up in 1986 and the platinum-selling album was an international smash. The album was Grammy nominated for the "Record of the Year." After opening the show with a rousing performance at the "1st Annual- 1987 Soul Train Music Awards", Cameo took home two awards "Best Single/Group" and "Album of the Year". The second release from this album "Candy" did equally as well while the cut "Back & Forth" climbed to the top 3 on R&B charts.
The group's core - Larry Blackmon, Tomi Jenkins and Nathan Leftenant - hasn't gone away either, despite membership fluctuations that at one time saw the band's membership balloon to 11 people. Cameo has stuck together. The trio continues to tour the globe to this day.
Born in Khartoum, Sudan, raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and introduced to the world via Hollywood, Kym E. Whitley is a funny, talented, and driven quadruple-threat actress, producer, director and stand-up comedienne.
After a scene stealing run as the hilarious wisecracking secretary on the UPN comedy series Sparks, Whitley became a staple on television guest-starring on popular shows such as Grey's Anatomy, HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, which got her Emmy nods, Lifetime's Missing, Disney's That's So Raven, ABC's My Wife And Kids, UPN's Love Inc., The Parkers, The Boondocks on the Cartoon Network, Fox's The Cleveland Show, Til Death, BET's Let's Stay Together and ABC's Animal Practice. Currently, Whitley voices Honeybee on Black Dynamite: The Animated Series.
Proving she isn't just another pretty face, Whitley created and co-hosted her own evening talk show on BET entitled Oh Drama! Other hosting credits include the syndicated Brian McKnight Show and the NBC show School Pride.
These same qualities have made her an in-demand big screen player, starring alongside some of Hollywood's elite such as Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Martin Lawrence, Ice Cube and Eddie Murphy. Whitley's past credits include box office hits We Bought A Zoo, Rango, Fun with Dick and Jane, Along Came Polly, The Perfect Man, I Love You Man, Deliver Us From Eva, College Road Trip, Next Friday, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Black Dynamite and Transformers 3.
In addition to her television and film appearances, Whitley continues to perform sidesplitting stand-up routines throughout the world. Presently, she hosts Ladies' Night Live at The Comedy Union in Los Angeles. She also owns and operates Kwick Whit Productions and has produced several projects including Love Chronicles, Cruising for Love with Kym Whitley, and the feature length film, 35 and Ticking. With all this talent, it comes as no surprise that Whitley's career continues to flourish with several upcoming television and movie projects.
Whitley's personal passions include raising her adorable son that she adopted in 2011, as well as giving back to her community and causes that touch her heart. As a result, she donates her time and talents to as many fundraisers that her schedule permits. A few of her passions are HBCU's (Historically Back Colleges and Universities), women shelters, victim's rights and anything having to do with children. Whitley started her own non-profit called Comics 4 Kids, which she has used to host toy drives during Christmas and celebrity basketball on the east coast.
Kym E. Whitley maintains true love and dedication to her industry. Look for this phenomenal and talented woman to be around Hollywood for a long time to come.
Miki Howard grew up in the church, where both of her parents were gospel singers. Her mother was also a member of the gospel group the Caravans and was acquainted with various entertainers. Howard's mother would take her to the homes of various stars such as Aretha Franklin and Mavis Staples.
While still in elementary school, Howard moved to Los Angeles with her mom. At the age of 15, she performed in a teen pageant. After the show, she met Side Effect member Augie Johnson, who happened to be in the audience and began working with Howard creatively. After a period of time, Howard became a Side Effect member -- upon the departure of Sylvia St. James. Howard's tenure with the group lasted a few years. During this time, she also had two children by Johnson. In addition to singing with Side Effect, she did background vocals for Wayne Henderson, Roy Ayers, Stanley Turrentine, and several other artists.
After leaving Side Effect, Howard signed a deal with Atlantic. Her first hit for the label was the Billboard R&B Top Ten single "Come Share My Love." She followed that with the remake of Glenn Miller's 1940 hit "Imagination." Her success continued with two more Top Ten singles, "Baby Be Mine" and "That's What Love Is." The latter was a duet with Gerald Levert and was the result of the creative union Howard formed with Marc Gordon and Levert. Howard and Levert later became romantically involved, and that romance spawned one of Howard's biggest hits, "Love Under New Management." The song was written during their brief love affair, but was released after their romance had dissolved.
In 1990, Howard signed a deal with Giant, which facilitated the release of her number one smash hit "Ain't Nobody Like You." Howard's lifeline at Giant was cut short due to an altercation her husband had at the label. She also made an appearance as Billie Holiday in a club scene in the Spike Lee movie Malcom X. Howard continued to issue albums throughout the '90s and early 2000s, a few of them heavy on -- or wholly reliant upon -- covers. Her releases during these years included Femme Fatale (1992), Shining Through (1993), Live Plus (1996), Can't Count Me Out (1997), Three Wishes (2001), and Pillow Talk (2006).
The group produced and wrote music for UTFO, Doctor Ice, Samantha Fox, Patti LaBelle, Jasmine Guy, The Force M.D.s, the R&B all-female group Ex Girlfriend, Britney Spears, James Brown, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, La Toya Jackson, and Selena. Full Force produced UTFO's "Roxanne Roxanne" (1985), a record that led to several answer records, most notably one by Roxanne Shanté. The group produced Rihanna's 2005 hit "That La, La, La," which appears on her debut album Music Of The Sun. The Black Eyed Peas' worldwide hit "Don't Phunk With My Heart" was also written as a collaboration between Full Force and will.i.am of the Peas. Full Force wrote and produced most of the singles from La Toya Jackson's fifth studio album La Toya, including "You're Gonna Get Rocked!" "You Blew," and "Such a Wicked Love," as well as Patti LaBelle's track "I Got It Like That," for which it also provided prominent background vocals from her 1989 album Be Yourself.
Full Force provide backing vocals on two Bob Dylan songs recorded during sessions for Infidels: "Death Is Not the End" (released on Down in the Groove (1988) and "Tell Me" (released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991).
Although not included on the soundtrack, Full Force's track "Ain't my Type of Hype" was the track used in the dance battle scene with Kid'N'Play.
Full Force's biggest hit (production-wise) from the 1990s was the Backstreet Boys' hit single "All I Have to Give." Full Force worked with Prince's ex-wife Mayte on her album Child of the Sun. However, the songs were all produced by Prince, so they remained unreleased. Full Force also contributed to the production on Blaque's 2002 unreleased album, Blaque Out.
Producer/ Songwriter/ Singer Cofounder of the group LeVert with Gerald Levert, produced & co-wrote most of the songs for the group gaining 7 gold & platinum records with the group and a #1 single on the "New Jack City" & "Coming to America sound tracks,Writing and Production for other artist like Anita Baker,Mikki Howard,Stephanie Mills,Troop,Chris Williams,Immature,I.M.X.,Marcus Houston,Musiq Soulchild,Gerald Levert,Sean Levert & others...
The group released their first single, "I'm Still", for Harry Coombes's Tempre label. In 1985, they released their debut album, I Get Hot, which included tracks whose vocals drew strong comparisons to Sean and Gerald Levert's father Eddie. Bloodline followed in 1986, and this album included the band's first big R&B hit "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind", a track that went all the way to Number One. However, the band's next album, 1987's The Big Throwdown became an even bigger success, on the strength of the Number One R&B hit "Casanova", which gave them a crossover onto the pop chart (number 5) and also the UK Top 10. A pair of additional R&B Top Five singles were also released from this album: "My Forever Love" and "Sweet Sensation" . The band's success continued with their 1988 follow-up album Just Coolin', which was nominated as Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Album for the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards. Both The Big Throwdown and Just Coolin' received gold certification.
With “Back On Top” Men At Large return to their rightful place at the forefront of today’s urban music. Marring a classic R & B renaissance with the lush vocals of old soul and all the cutting edge of hip hop’s street raps, Cleveland’s Dave Tolliver and Chicago’s Gemini have created a sound that is both utterly modern and ultimately fresh. They testify about how hard it can be, how worth it is to stay in the game-and how good it is when you get there.
Of course, given the group’s history – with three #1 smashes “Use Me”, Umm Umm Good and “So Alone,” plus three more songs that made it into the top 20’s, “You Me,” “Would You Like To Dance” and “Holiday” under their substantial belts – Men At Large understand the power of making the music connect with real people. So after a period of reflection following their affiliation with Gerald Levert, Tolliver decided that their next album had to reflect the values, the struggle and the music that mattered most to them.
It’s a long way from where Tolliver and Gemini started out. The path they’ve traveled has forged a definite sense of identity, values, priorities and what their music’s about.
For Dave Tolliver, who grew up following his Uncle Lynn Tolliver to the radio station all the time , what other way would he turn. It all started in the St. Paul AME Zion Church Buds of Promise Choir. Starting a 5 until he was 15 and serving as choir member and director, young Tolliver was nurtured by Miss Mary Hampton and Terrence Jones who encouraged the child to sing from the heart.
Like so many young black men, Tolliver was raised by a single mother and grandmother who infused him with a sense of pride in who he was. “My mom taught me to appreciate life and not take living for granted. She taught me how to be a man, without my Pop. She taught me respect, the value of a dollar, the pay-off of hard work and the teachings of being a good parent.”
Armed with the knowledge, turned on by the fancy steps of New Edition and teamed up with a pal, Tolliver started dancing with the local crew and singing at local DJ’s house party. It wasn’t long before Levert came across the talented young man – and so began a collaboration that resulted in several hit singles.
“He was joking, saying, “You guys are phat!” And he put us in the studio, encouraged us to write,” Dave remembers. He’d say, “You have such a nice voice...you just gotta calm down when you do it, ‘cause if you give it your best, you’ll always deliver.”
Deliver, Men At Large did. Working the crowds into a frenzy whether it was a sweaty hip-hop club or an elegant theater, Tolliver and partner developed a reputation as killer entertainers. “We made a decision to really concentrate on the singing rather than the steps. Gerald instilled a killer instinct in us, so that no matter whether it’s Master P or Michael Jackson, when you get on that stage, you go for the jugular.”
Along the way, Tolliver met Gemini at a show in Chicago. The sometime bodyguard filled in for Levert on “So Alone,” and there was definite chemistry. So when Tolliver’s partner was called to the ministry, he knew whom to call.
“Dave never made me any promises,” Gemini recalled. “But when I heard what he went through to get my number, I couldn’t believe it…My singing has always been the positive pull in my life. No matter how drawn to the negative I was, the music kept bringing me back. It was the thing that kept me striving.”
Indeed. While Tolliver honed his skills in the church, Gemini was banging it out on the streets. Also the product of a home without a father, he learned fast how rough life can be.
“I got into the gangs when I was 8 or 9 years old,” Gemini says. “You get tired of the endless battle and you just get pulled in. And I learned how to be a man, how to survive how to appreciate the little I had, because you just get pulled in. And I learned how to be a man, how to survive, how to appreciate the little I had, because you start to understand you don’t know how long you’ll have it.
“You know, anything I ever did, I did in self-defense,” he continues, “and I was scared of my Momma more than anything. I did what I had to do, but I tried to make sure it wouldn’t get back to her because she didn’t believe in that stuff. I was out for my family…to help her make ends meet.”
At 15, Gemini ended up doing time “for gang-related things.” Given the pull between his Mother’s beliefs, the pull of music and his street life, he made an important decision. “I did everything right: went to school, didn’t disrespect, didn’t do anything. It’s awful inside…
“Of the 40 guys I came up with, there are only two of us left me and a guy whose in jail doing like 50 years. The last guy who got killed was like my heart. He was coming to one of our shows and he didn’t make it, later I found out why.
“When I got with the music, people were cool. They respected what I was doing. It’s hard to get out of the gang life alive, but when I got committed to this, everybody was with my decision.”
For Men At Large, music can be many things. Not only a way to entertain and kick out the jams, but a source of inspiration in a rough world. “Music affects young people today.” Tolliver explains. “It’s funny how young cats look to records and videos to live their lives. They go by what records says instead of the fact their mom is a teacher at JFK High School or their dad has a job at Lincoln Steel, for the past twenty years!”
“I’d like to see us offer some other ways of looking at living life.”
Certainly there’s a definite sense of romance and a real respect for women on “Back on Top.” Whether it’s the ultimate consequence of player mentality or the belief in something greater, that’s two people in love.” Men At Large imbue their music with a faith in love and its ability to make anyone richer.
“I believe in satisfying my partner 100% and ladies know that about me,” Tolliver says. “There are no boundaries – sexually, spiritually, whatever, You know, women work hard and they bring all this stuff into your life. Your homies are cool, but when it’s you against the world, a woman comforts you in a way your boys can’t.
Believing. Maintaining the struggle. Getting it done. For Gemini and Dave Tolliver, it’s not just about getting their hustle on, it’s about giving people a reason to believe. It’s about being real about not letting disappointment get you down or out of the game.
“When I came back and Dave gave me this chance, everybody was respecting what I was doing,” Gemini says. “This is REAL singing two young guys with voices people dream about having. So much is done with computers and stuff now, but what you hear with us is…us. “For real.”
Tolliver laughs at the thought that this sets them apart. But he’s quick to acknowledge how much went into making “Back On Top.” “I’m an observer and the time we spent making this music and really deciding what we wanted to do, gave me a chance to figure things out, to learn and recognize bad situations, what I wanted out of life and my music.”
“We wanted a situation where we had control and Ray Couzan understood what Gemini and I have been through and the stuff we’d done on this record. By writing about it, it was like getting a monkey off our backs. I was able to fulfill a dream and be clean about where we were coming from and where we were going.”
Group first was formed by Jeffrey W. Rozier aka "Blackie", and Edward "Buddy" Banks. Jeffrey discovered Buddy at the coner of Leeila and West 130th Street in Cleveland Ohio, playing on his Korg keyboard setting near the window.
Buddy and Blackie then started looking for new young talent to add to the group, Buddy found Joe Little III, whom also introduced Mark Jenkins to the group as the fourth member of RUDE BOYS. The name; RUDE BOYS was created by Jeffrey and Buddy after finding the name on a Prince album cover. Mark, Joe, Buddy and Jeffrey wrote numerous songs together that soon gain the attention of Gerald Levert. Jeffrey was also known throughout the music industry as being a young hot new producer with an eye and ear for spotting new talent. Jeffrey has worked with many A&R Directors and record labels as a talent scout. Jeffrey aka Blackie now runs and operate Funky Pop Rock Productions (FPRP) and has been in business for over 30 years finding and developing artist. Blackie and Buddy now work together from time to time creating new music and discovering new artist, creating new music and assisting young artist with music arrangements and digital editing and recording. The final four members of the RUDE BOYS were later established after Blackie and Mark Jenkins left the group and there after became the final four; "Joe N Little III, Edward Buddy Banks, Larry Bingo Marcus and Melvin Sephus."
Edward Buddy Banks now owns and operates Highly Favorite Records, which has several new young artists under the label. Buddy throughout his career has established himself as one the best 1st tenors in the music business and has performed with many well-known artist like; Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill. Buddy is also known for his great keyboarding abilities bringing the sweet sound of R&B to new heights. Artist that Buddy has worked with are as follows; Gerald Levert, Eddie Levert, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Michael Bivins, Boys to Men, The O’Jays, Yo Yo, Tina Marie, Rick James, John P. Kee, Fred Hammond, Teddy Riley, Charlie Wilson and El DeBarge and has wrote songs like; My Kinda Girl, Go Ahead and Cry, I’m going through all sung by the RUDE BOYS and has wrote songs for the following artist like, RAGE whom sung, “Afro Puff”, Somebody Cares For You performed by Frank McComb, I’m so alone song by Men at Large. Wrote the song “Tears” sung by Vanessa Bell and has also wrote; “He Didn’t Lie to Me” performed by John P. Kee.
Buddy started his career in Faith Tabernacle Church of God and Christ located at 30th and Community College located in Cleveland Ohio. Buddy’s Grand Father owned and was known as Elder L.K Banks whom also was a great singer and the main Preacher of that Church. Edward Buddy Banks has worked with many A&R Directors like; Randy Jackson from American Idol and Sylvia Rhone from Atlantic Records and has played with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Eddie Murphy and countless others, to many to mention. Edward Buddy Banks a musical genius in his own right at an early age till this day has continued to surprise the music industry with his determination to make his mark in history.
Red Grant is doing things that other comedians have not done since Robert Townsend. Grant has been one of the top comedians on television over the years, gaining millions of fans of all races. Some of his most recent accomplishments on television are Comedy Central Presents Red Grant, Katt Williams: American Hustle which he starred in with Katt Williams, Martin Lawrence's 1st Amendment Stand Up, Comedy Central’s hilarious reality show Reality Bites Back, and his new Showtime half-hour special that is due out in the summer.
Not only is Grant a star in the comedy world, he's also making a name for himself as a film and television producer, creating and producing seven shows and pilots for the Viacom Network. Four of these shows have achieved Nelson Ratings of .90, and the other three have achieved ratings of over .60-.80, reaching more than six million people in the world. Grant does all this through his film company Movieos, where he has partnered up with companies such as Lions Gate Entertainment and Artisan Entertainment. He has sold over 500,000 DVDs around the world.
Grant has acted in 11 films and is working on his new film Mr. Break Up which he wrote. Grant has partnered up with the writers and producers of Trading Places to film this project in New Orleans in March. Grant is a real lovable guy and he has everyone asking, "What's all the talk about Red Grant?"