Soul II Soul

Last updated

Soul II Soul
Origin London, United Kingdom
Years active
  • 1988–1998
  • 2007–present
Past members

Soul II Soul are a British musical group formed in London in 1988. They are best known for their 1989 UK chart-topper and US top five hit "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)", and "Keep On Movin'" which reached number five in the UK and number 11 in the US. They won two Grammy Awards, and have been nominated for five Brit Awards—twice for Best British Group. [5]

Back to Life (However Do You Want Me) single

"Back to Life " is a song by British R&B band Soul II Soul. It appeared on a second version of their debut album Club Classics Vol. One and was released as its second single on 29 May 1989. "Back to Life" was one of two songs on the album featuring British R&B singer Caron Wheeler and gained success in both the United Kingdom and in the United States. The song also features the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra.

Keep On Movin (Soul II Soul song) 1989 single by Soul II Soul

"Keep On Movin'" is a song by British soul and R&B band Soul II Soul. It was the second single released from their debut album Club Classics Vol. One, after "Fairplay". It is one of two songs on the album that features British R&B singer Caron Wheeler and it became one of Soul II Soul's most successful songs. It reached number five on the UK Singles Chart upon its release in March 1989 and number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and was even more successful on Billboard's R&B charts, where it hit number one.

Grammy Award Accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.



1987–1989: Beginnings and Club Classics

The group initially attracted attention as a sound system, playing records at house and street parties (where their clothing style, dubbed "Funki Dred", started a line of clothing). In 1988, the official lineup was recognised as Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler, Doreen Waddell, Rose Windross, Daddae, Aitch B, and Jazzie Q. The group released their first single "Fairplay", with Rose Windross on lead vocals. The song only charted at number 63 on the UK Singles Chart, which failed to create a huge buzz for the group. Their follow-up single "Feel Free", which featured Doreen on lead vocals also failed to make a huge buzz as it only charted at number 64.

Sound system (DJ) mobile sound system

A sound system is a group of DJs and audio engineers contributing and working together as one, playing and producing music over a large PA system or sound reinforcement system, typically for a dance event or party.

UK Singles Chart British singles sales chart

The UK Singles Chart is compiled by the Official Charts Company (OCC), on behalf of the British record industry, listing the top-selling singles in the United Kingdom, based upon physical sales, paid-for downloads and streaming. The Official Chart, broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and MTV, is the UK music industry's recognised official measure of singles and albums popularity because it is the most comprehensive research panel of its kind, today surveying over 15,000 retailers and digital services daily, capturing 99.9% of all singles consumed in Britain across the week, and over 98% of albums. To be eligible for the chart, a single is currently defined by the Official Charts Company (OCC) as either a 'single bundle' having no more than four tracks and not lasting longer than 25 minutes or one digital audio track not longer than 15 minutes with a minimum sale price of 40 pence. The rules have changed many times as technology has developed, the most notable being the inclusion of digital downloads in 2005 and streaming in July 2014.

In March 1989, the group released their breakthrough single "Keep on Movin'", featuring Caron Wheeler on lead vocals. The song became a worldwide success and sold over one million copies in the United States of America. The following month, the group released their first album Club Classics Vol. One . The album peaked at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and sold over four million copies worldwide. The group continued their success with the single "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)", the song charted at number 1 on the UK Singles chart. The single went on to win the group their first Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1990.

Recording Industry Association of America Trade organization representing the recording industry in the U.S.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

<i>Club Classics Vol. One</i> 1989 studio album by Soul II Soul

Club Classics Vol. One is the debut album by the British group Soul II Soul. Released in 1989, the album featured the group's hit singles "Keep on Movin'" and "Back to Life ", the latter of which was a UK number-one hit and the fifth best-selling single in the UK that year. The album also reached number one and was certified triple platinum by the British Phonographic Industry for sales in excess of 900,000 copies.

The Official Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales and audio streaming in the United Kingdom. It was published for the first time on 22 July 1956 and is compiled every week by the Official Charts Company (OCC) on Fridays. It is broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and published in Music Week magazine, and on the OCC website.

In late 1989, Waddell and Windross departed from the group. Marcia Lewis, a cousin of Jazzie B, joined the group. The single "Get a Life", which featured Lewis on lead vocals, charted at number 3 on the UK Singles chart. The song also sold over 60 thousand copies in the United Kingdom. Lewis' debut performance came on Top of the Pops when she performed alongside Caron Wheeler and Jazzie B. [6]

1989–1991: Volume II A New Decade and lineup changes

In early 1990, Wheeler officially left the group to pursue her solo career. To fill out the group's dynamic, Jazzie B turned to a few singers he had performed with in the past. This led to the brief addition of Kym Mazelle, Lamya, and Victoria Wilson-James to the new lineup. With a new official lineup, the group released their second album Vol. II: 1990 – A New Decade , which peaked at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart.

Kym Mazelle American singer

Kym Mazelle is an American singer-songwriter. She is regarded as a pioneer of house music in the United Kingdom and Europe. Her music combines R&B, soul, funk, house music, disco, and pop. She is credited as "The First Lady of House Music".

Lamya Al-Mugheiry, better known as her mononym Lamya was a Kenyan-born British singer-songwriter and record producer. She rose to fame in the early 1990s as one of the lead singers of R&B group Soul II Soul, and later as a backing singer for Duran Duran. In 2002, she released her debut album Learning from Falling, which spawned the number 1 Dance chart single "Empires ".

Victoria Wilson-James is an American-born British singer, songwriter, record producer and actress. Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, she performed in various theatre plays and musicals as a teenager. Following the release of her debut single "I Want You in My Movie", she was recruited by Jazzie B to joined a newly reformed line-up of R&B group Soul II Soul. Managed by her bandmate, Jazzie B, the group became one of London's best-selling groups of all time. Their second album, Vol. II: 1990 – A New Decade (1990), which achieved gold-status in the US and UK, featured the top-charting single "A Dream's A Dream" with Wilson-James on lead vocals.

The album's second single "A Dream's a Dream", which features Victoria Wilson James on lead vocals, performed success on the chart. The album's third single "People", featuring Lewis on lead vocals, garnered moderate success on the charts but managed to achieve success on the Dance charts. The album's final single "Missing You", featuring Kym Mazelle on lead vocals, also performed well on the charts. In the mid-1990s, the group toured throughout the United Kingdom. One of their concerts at Brixton Academy was recorded live and released in September 1990, titled A New Decade: Live from Brixton Academy . After the conclusion of the tour, Wilson-James, Mazelle, Lewis left the group to pursue solo careers.

The Dance Club Songs chart is a weekly chart published exclusively by Billboard in the United States. It is a national survey of the songs which are the most popular in nightclubs across the country and is compiled from reports from a national sample of disc jockeys. It was launched as the Disco Action Top 30 chart on August 28, 1976, and became the first chart by Billboard to document the popularity of dance music. Since its inception, several artists have set various records and garnered multiple achievements. In January 2017, Billboard proclaimed Madonna as the most successful artist in the history of the chart, ranking her first in their list of the 100 top all time dance artists and Janet Jackson being the second most successful dance club artist of all-time; Madonna also holds the record for the most number-one songs, with 46. Katy Perry holds the record for having eighteen consecutive number-one songs. Perry's third studio album, Teenage Dream (2010), became the first album in the history of the chart to produce at least seven number-one songs between 2010–12, a record it held solely until Rihanna's eighth studio album Anti produced eight chart toppers through 2016-17. Rihanna is the only artist to have achieved five number-one songs in a calendar year.

1991–1993: Volume III Just Right and another lineup change

In 1991, Soul II Soul was in need of lead vocalists for the recording of their third album. During recording sessions, Jazzie B recruited guest singers Richie Stephens, Kofi, Penny Ford, Rick Clarke, along with the re-addition of Caron Wheeler to record on the album.

In April 1992, Soul II Soul released their third album Volume III Just Right. The album's lead single "Joy" performed by Stephens achieved major success on the charts. The follow-up single "Move Me No Mountain" performed by Kofi on lead vocals achieved moderate success but failed to make a huge impact in the album's sales figure. The third single "Just Right" also suffered the same fate.

The group managed to tour for a brief time throughout 1993. In November 1993, the group released their greatest hits album Volume IV The Classic Singles 88–93 . The album spawned the single "Wish", which featured the new addition to the group Melissa Bell on lead vocals.

1994–1997: Volume V Believe, lineup changes, Time for Change

In 1994, Soul II Soul prepared to record their fourth album. Despite her career as an established solo artist, Caron Wheeler once again joined the group and committed to the recording of the group's upcoming album. During the record sessions, Wheeler and Jazzie B struggled with creative difficulties for the production of the album. This ultimately lead to Wheeler leaving the group again during the recording of the song "Love Enuff". Now without an official lead singer for the group, Jazzie B was left to recruit a few singers once more. Penny Ford, background vocalist on the group's single "Move Me No Mountain", officially became a member of the group. Charlotte Kelly, a background vocalist from the group's previous tour, was also recruited to join the group. Melissa Bell and Lamya also contributed vocals to the forthcoming album.

In January 1995, Soul II Soul and Isaac Hayes also performed Papa Was a Rollin' Stone live on Taratata, with Kelly on lead vocals. In June 1995, Soul II Soul released the single "Love Enuff". The single retained the use of Wheeler's pre-recorded background vocals and Penny Ford on lead vocals. The song invited Soul II Soul to perform on Top of the Pops with Ford performing lead vocals. In August 1995, Soul II Soul released their fourth studio album Volume V Believe. The album's second single "I Care", which features Charlotte on lead vocals, charted at number 17 on the UK Singles chart.

In August 1997, the group released their fifth studio album Time for Change. [7] The album featured the singles "Represent" and "Pleasure Dome".

1998–2006: Disbandment and aftermath

In 1998, the group officially disbanded with each member pursuing solo careers. Following their disbandment, several members including Wilson-James, Mazelle, Lamya, and Kelly would release solo albums which would each garner success, respectfully. Marcia Lewis and Kym Mazelle would also go on to become educators. In 1999, Kelly released her self-titled debut album, which spawned the number 1 Dance chart single "Skin". The group often reunited and performed for a few selected dates over the course of their hiatus.

In March 2002, Doreen Waddell, who had been living in Hove following her departure, died at 36 after being hit by three cars while she was fleeing from a shoplifting incident. [7] In July 2002, Lamya released her solo debut album Learning from Falling , which spawned the number 1 Dance chart single "Empires (Bring Me Men)".

2007–2012: Reunion

In 2007, Soul II Soul reformed at the Lovebox Festival in Victoria Park, London. The lineup consisted of Caron Wheeler, Jazzie B, Aitch B, with the new addition of MC Chickaboo. In December 2008, a radio programme about Soul II Soul was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In January 2009, Lamya died of a sudden heart attack. [8] [9]

The Soul II Soul Sound System featuring Caron Wheeler toured Australia nationally in February 2009. They performed at the Playground Weekender Festival near Sydney. Soul II Soul performed live at the Yasalam free concerts in conjunction with the 2009 Formula 1TM Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix celebrations in October 2009.

In 2010, Soul II Soul reunited for their reunion tour with the lineup consisting of Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler, Rose Windross, Kym Mazelle, Charlotte Kelly, Aitch B, and MC Chickaboo. The group toured until the end of 2011. Following the tour, Kelly and Wheeler performed on-and-off as the featured vocalists for Soul II Soul. In 2012, Soul II Soul performed at the Lovebox Festival in which Kelly performed as the featured vocalist. In June 2012, Soul II Soul received the honorary PRS Heritage Plaque award. Jazzie B, Wheeler, Daddae, Mazelle, Kelly, Aitch B were among the members present. They also performed during the ceremony. In August 2012, Soul II Soul (Jazzie B, Jazzi Q, Aitch B, Caron Wheeler, and MC Chickaboo) performed at Channel 4's House Party. [10] In December 2012, Soul II Soul performed "Keep on Movin'" and "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" on Later... with Jools Holland with Caron Wheeler as the lead vocalist. They also confirmed to be working on a new album.

2013–present: Later years

In April 2013, Jazzie B and Charlotte Kelly launched the Soul II Soul 'Classics' Collection at Harvey Nichols in London, England. The Classics Collection features T-shirts and sweatshirts with Soul II Soul's Funky Dred logo. In the same year, Kelly departed from the group again and Wheeler rejoined the group. In 2014, Soul II Soul performed at the Lovebox Festival.

In 2016, Soul II Soul released a single titled "A New Day" credited to Caron Wheeler, which features production from Jazzie B and Louie Vega. Soul II Soul released their live album "Origins: The Roots Of Soul II Soul" on December 9, 2016. [11]

In May 2017, Soul II Soul performed at Electric Brixton with Caron Wheeler and Charlotte Kelly as the lead vocalists.

On August 28, 2017, Melissa Bell died after suffering from kidney failure. [12]

The group appeared on Jools' Annual Hootenanny on New Year's Eve in 2017.

Members timeline


Awards and nominations

American Music Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 "Keep on Movin'"Favorite Soul/R&B SingleNominated
Soul II Soul Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo/Group Nominated
Favorite Soul/R&B New ArtistNominated
Favorite Dance New ArtistNominated
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)"Favorite Dance SingleNominated

BRIT Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 Club Classics Vol. One Best British AlbumNominated
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)"Best British SingleNominated
Soul II SoulBest British NewcomerNominated
Best British GroupNominated
1991 Best British GroupNominated

Grammy Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 Soul II Soul Best New Artist Nominated
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Won
"African Dance" Best R&B Instrumental Performance Won
1993 "Mood"Best R&B Instrumental PerformanceNominated

Juno Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1991 "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" Best International Single of the Year Nominated

Soul Train Music Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 Keep on Movin' Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Album, Group, Band, or Duo Won
"Keep on Movin'" Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Song of the Year Won
Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Single, Group, Band, or Duo Won
Soul II Soul Best R&B/Urban Contemporary New Artist Nominated

See also

Related Research Articles

Afrodiziak was a British singing group composed of Caron Wheeler, Claudia Fontaine, and later Naomi Thompson, that was active in the 1980s. As a duo, Wheeler and Fontaine were best known for performing backing vocals on The Jam's final single "Beat Surrender" in 1982 and Elvis Costello's 1983 album Punch the Clock, especially its single, the international hit "Everyday I Write the Book". After the addition of a third member, Naomi Thompson, they went on to sing for acts such as Heaven 17 and Howard Jones. Afrodiziak performed backing vocals on the hit single Free Nelson Mandela, including the a cappella intro, staging it at The Tube (Channel4) in March 1984. Heaven 17's 1984 album, How Men Are, featured them prominently, especially on the singles "Sunset Now" and "And That's No Lie". In 1984 and 1985 they performed on Madness's albums Keep Moving and Mad Not Mad respectively, also appearing in the video for the Madness single "Sweetest Girl". Also in 1985, they performed backing vocals on the first two songs on Howard Jones' second album, Dream Into Action, both of which became worldwide hit singles; later that year, they went on tour as part of Jones' band. Other acts the group sang backup for include Japan, Ian Gillan, Aztec Camera, Maxi Priest, Aswad, Sam Brown, and Julia Fordham. Besides The Tube, Afrodiziak also appeared on Top of the Pops, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Solid Gold, and American Bandstand. They performed live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Live Aid Japan, Red Nose Day of Charity, and the first Free Nelson Mandela Concert.

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