The ladies of R&B group Zhané were both naturally talented and beautiful. Whether they were singing about getting the party started on tracks like, “Hey Mr. D.J.” or the remnants of love on “For A Reason”, the combination of their two soulful voices were enough to leave you in a trance. This dynamic duo that emerged in the early 1990s consisted of two vocalist who could both sing lead as beautifully as they could harmonize together.
With the release of their debut album Pronounced Jah-Nay in 1994, Jean Norris-Baylor and Renee Neufville were able to craft a smooth, melodic, and feel-good album that even to this day remains a great listen from start to finish. Let’s be honest: no 1990s block party or cook-out was complete without blasting Zhane’s summertime anthem “Hey Mr. DJ”. These two lovely ladies came on the scene with a natural and sophisticated sound to match their look. They were outstanding!
Zhané members Jean Norris-Baylor and Renee Neufville were both studying music at Philadelphia’s Temple University when they decided to form a duo. By combing their first names of Jean and Renee, the duo came up with Zhané. They later caught the ear of DJ Kay Gee from the Hip-Hop group Naughty By Nature. Kay Gee was impressed enough to go right into the studio to record “Hey, Mr. D.J.” for Roll Wit tha Flava; a compilation album released under Queen Latifah‘s Flavor Unit record label. When the song was released as a separate single as well, it hit number six on the pop charts and earned the group a contract with Motown Records in 1994. Pronounced Jah-Nay, the debut album from Zhané, was released later that same year.
Melodic tempos and soulful harmonies made Zhané’s debut album an R&B classic. Co-produced by rap heavyweights Naughty by Nature, the album was a mix of up-tempo tracks like “Groove Thang” and slow ballads such as “La La La.” “Off My Mind” was notable for its interesting jazz arrangement and “Sending My Love” was bass-heavy and very smooth. Zhané shined as both songwriters and musicians on the album as well. If anyone had doubts of the duo’s talent, Pronounced Jah-Nay served as concrete evidence that these ladies had undeniable staying power. The album was gold by the end of the year and achieved platinum status 2 years later.
After the release of their debut album, Zhané kept themselves busy by appearing on tracks by Busta Rhymes and De La Soul. The duo also contributed songs to the soundtracks of Higher Learning and A Low Down Dirty Shame. In 1997, Zhané released their second and final album, Saturday Night. The album wasn’t a huge commercial success, but it did spawn the notable hits “Request Line” and “Crush”. A few years after the release of their sophomore effort, they decided to split. Jean Norris-Baylor released the independent solo album, Testimony: My Life and Renee Neufville became involved in Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor project. One can only hope that these two will reunite someday and bless the world with their collective artistry.
Zhané – Groove Thang
Zhané – Sending My Love
Zhané – Request line
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