Afrobellas of the Week: Zhané

When Zhané first came out in the early Nineties, I didn’t appreciate them at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hey Mr. DJ from the beginning. But I didn’t appreciate the fact that here were these two chicks with super-short hair (one with a T.W.A years before I knew what the letters stood for), representing for the natural sistas. Their look was fresh and bold, and they came out assertive with Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit (now there’s a sad list of forgotten Nineties-era musicians if ever I saw one).

From jump they seemed strong, declaring that their unusual name was Pronounced Ja-Nay, so people like me couldn’t get their name twisted.

Zhané’s music made the perfect backyard BBQ soundtrack, with soothing harmonies and banging bass lines. Request Line takes me back to high school days in the best possible way, and It’s a Party reminds me of why I loved Busta Rhymes in the beginning. Of course, by then the chicks had grown out the supershort cuts that made them so distinctive looking, and traded them in for some generic Salt N Pepa “Shoop” era bobs.

But still, they looked great and had some good hits with their signature sound. With just two albums under their belt, I didn’t expect Zhané to completely fade into oblivion along with Brownstone and SWV. According to Wikipedia, their last song came out in 1997. It’s been a decade, and I’ve been wondering — whatever happened to Zhané?

I was happy to hear that the girls are still best of friends. Jean Baylor explains in this interview. Renee gives her perspective in this interview with Mosaic Thump.

Jean Baylor and Renee Neufville are still out there, just recording seperately. Listen to Jean’s latest music, and groove to Renee’s jazzy flavor here. As you’ll see, they still sing like angels. Is it too much to hope for a comeback?

My favorite Zhané video was Sending My Love. They just looked so strong, so beautiful, and so Afrocentric in that desert setting. And I love that their hair is so, so short but they still are feminine and beautiful.

Congratulations, Jean and Renee, you’re my Afrobellas of the Week!

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Comments

  1. Hey Afrobella! Sending My Love is my absolute favorite Zhane song, as a matter of fact it is probably one of my all time favorite songs. Girl you just took me back! I’m about to put that on my myspace page lol. Take care and I love your website!

    Adara

  2. Love that song! Perfect soundtrack for this lovely spring like day in NY. Also I didn’t know that Antoine Fuqua directed videos..He directed Training Day with Delicious.. ahem, I mean Denzel.

  3. Neosoulbeauty says:

    Hola Afrobella! Thanks for the post, I clearly remember jamming to Hey Mr. Dj everyday of the week especially Saturday afternoons when I would kick everyone out of the house and start my intense Saturday cleaning!! And by intense I mean pots, walls, everything..lol! I love Zhane and quite frankly it is not too much to hope for a comeback! Much love!!

  4. One of the main reasons why I loved those girls was because of their unique look and style. I was playing their cd just last week. They need to come back and shake up the so called music that’s out now. Enjoyed the clip!!

  5. I thought I was the only one who remembered this group!

  6. awww the memories!!! yes i agree, sending my love was my all time favorite zhane song and its on my top 10 songs ever! thanks for the flashback! that was perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Hi Afrobella!
    I just want to let you know…yours is one of the first blogs I visit each day. You always have something thoughtful and important to post, and I really enjoy everything you write. You stand for female empowerment–and that said, I love your reviews, too.

    And while it shouldn’t matter (although to some people it might), I am caucasian. And I love your blog. Keep it going!

  8. noirebeaute says:

    Hey Afrobella,

    I visit your blog everyday and I love it…you re a true inspiration!
    I love Zhane too!
    You were asking for suggestions regarding other Afrobellas of the week.
    Did you think about Sade, Les Nubians, Ayo and the legendary Myriam Makeba?? Most of them are from the African continent (just like the other Afrobellas!) and I think it would be interesting to write something about them.
    Thanks a lot, I wish you the best!

    noire beaute

  9. Love Zhane! I thought they were absolutely beautiful. I think I was in my first or second year of college and I definitely remember them being on blast in the background as we had spring block parties. Aaaah, good times.

  10. i LOVE “sending my love”, the song and video are still spectacular.

  11. I was just thinking about this group and love that song. My other favourite Zhane song is “Crush” They should come back for sure.

  12. flygyrl72 says:

    Ooh-wee! You just took me back! Big ups for giving props to Zhane, Bella! They were/are truly beautiful sistas! Their Essence cover is one of my faves of all time.

  13. Aah Man “CRUSH” is on my MP3.
    I sat out on the curb in front of my office on a pretty spring day here in Atlanta and just took a minute to chill. Love it! Love them!!!!

  14. Shonda-though I have several Zhane songs on my iPod, “Crush” is the one with highest play count! Don’t hate on “Jamboree” y’all! I know it’s a Naughty By Nature song, but their guest appearance makes the song tolerable.

  15. Bella!

    I LOVE these ladies! I really dug their style, they were natural and fabulous at a time when it wasn’t cool. I still play their music like it was just released.

  16. “Crush” is the jam. Wow. I can’t beleive it has been 10 years since they last had a song out. when I hear “Sending My Love” today, it just takes me back to a ceratin time and place in my life. If these natural sistas were unusual in the mid-90s, they would be down-right stange in the lat 2000s where casacading hair is the industry standard.

  17. jerseybred says:

    The beat to “Sending To My Love” used to drive me crazy (in a good way). I could press repeat on the song, ALL DAY LONG.

  18. Slick Pimpin says:

    I still love Zhane to this very day! But “For A Reason” is my favorite! That song appeals so much to life and is so very…soulful and heartfelt! REUNION!!!!

  19. I used to love Zhane as well. I was in college when Pronounces Jah-Nay was released and it was love at first sound. Hey Mr. D.J. was catchy, but I grew tired of it because it was played Constantly. I loved Sending My Love, that beat was definately infectious, but Off My Mind and that for ever changing tempo did something to me. The way it went from Blues to Jazz to R&B multiple times within the sound made me weak. Thanks for the update on them. I hope they return.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] But a late night watching VH1 Soul reminded me of an all-star collaboration I had all but forgotten about. Freedom was originally featured on the soundtrack for the movie Panther in 1995. The group includes a veritable black female who’s who of Nineties music industry players: Mary J. Blige, Monica, Meshell Ndegeocello, Zhane, TLC, SWV, Aaliyah, Brownstone, Vanessa Williams, Salt N Pepa, En Vogue, Queen Latifah, Joi, Xscape, and a room full of talented sistas, some of whom I don’t even recognize. WPvideo 1.02 [...]

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