Lelee Lyons of SWV Opens Up About Group’s Recently Released Album & What’s Next For Her
We Catch Up With Lelee Lyons of SWV For An Exclusive Interview
With more than 25 million records sold worldwide, a feat that makes them one of the best selling girl groups of all-time, S.isters W.ith V.oices or SWV, became one of the most successful R&B collectives of the nineties. Following the release of their Hip-Hop heavy third album, the gold selling, Release Some Tension , Coko, Taj and Lelee Lyons officially called it quits.
Flash forward to 2005, and the New York City based vocal trio finally reunited. Two additional albums; 2012’s I Missed Us and last year’s Still, as well as WE tv’s reality series vehicle, ‘…Reunited,’ later, and SWV were back on everyone’s radar again.
Parlé Magazine recently conducted an exclusive tête-à-tête with the crew’s Contralto, Miss Boogie Down Bronx herself, Leanne “Lelee” Lyons…
Parlé Mag: 2016 saw the release of SWV’s fifth studio set, Still, the follow-up to I Missed Us, that being said, are you happy with the overall commercial success of that record?
Lelee: Not exactly, but it’s just one of those situations where the artist was bigger than the label and when you don’t have the funds to promote your product, it doesn’t matter how many people love you; they can’t support you if they don’t know what you’re selling. The industry today is a little different today and fans are fickle. They love you, but do they love you enough to support you? It’s a team effort. But to be honest, I’m thankful if one person bought the album. We love our fans and we love the support, no matter what it is.
Parlé Mag: Speaking of Still, conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?
Lelee: Still represents longevity, endurance, love , friendship, life, etcetera. SWV has been through a lot in friendship and business, but we’re still here; whether the industry wants to acknowledge that or not. Our records are being played STILL, we tour STILL, we get royalty checks STILL, etcetera… whatever your STILL is, own it!
Parlé Mag: How does Still either differ and/or compare to previous SWV efforts?
Lelee: Not that far away from our sound. We had more fun with this record. We want music lovers to fall in love again with songs like, “When Love Didn’t Hurt.” You’d just have to hear it…????
Parlé Mag: You all semi-recently recorded a beautiful duet, “Finally,” with BBD for their Three Stripes album, knowing that New Edition was such a huge influence on SWV, how was that experience for you all? How did it even come together?
Lelee: SWV is all things New Edition! *Giggles* Our manager – who also manages BBD – Brooke Payne, thought the idea was awesome to put the two brands together. We always talked about it, but there was always a conflict in schedule. BBD are real stars to us, so we wanted to make sure we did the best job.
Parlé Mag: Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
Lelee: I say consistency and being true to who you are. It’s important to me that I make people laugh and take them out of their comfort zone. Life is too short. People need to feel your heart, whether it’s good or hurts their feelings a little.
Parlé Mag: Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?
Lelee: I’m a partner at my family funeral home, Hope Funeral Home, in Fayetteville, Georgia. I have a strong desire for television on the creative [production side], and talent side. I want to open a transitional home for single mothers and pregnant teens. I’d like to do another album with SWV, and visit parts of the world we haven’t reached yet. There’s so much work to do.
Parlé Mag: Of course you have an upcoming memoir, “I Regret The Day I Lost My Virginity,” in the works. What’s the significance behind naming the book this? And, when can it be expected?
Lelee: I’m putting my finishing touches together for my book, “I Regret The Day I Lost My Virginity.” A book of inspiration, trials, love, sexual abuse, confusion, regret, etcetera. It explores how the hell do we women face the world when we don’t feel worthy. Many of us are ashamed of our past, so we don’t talk about it… but for me, it’s the darkness that gave me a light. It’s the darkness and the things I wanted to hide from the world that they made a conversation piece. Who better to tell my story more than me? We are more than conquerors, and we are not our past.
Parlé Mag: On another note, there have also been talks of a solo recording for some time now, are there plans firmly in place yet for your premiere debut offering?
Lelee: Oh boy, it’s on my bucket list! I’d love to do an Adult Contemporary Jazz/Neo Soul offering. That’s something I’d like to do for me… before I die for sure.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of R&B? And, as an extension to this question, where do you “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?
Lelee: We fit in, but they don’t want us to. They say we’re Urban AC. *More giggles* R&B isn’t dead, people are just not falling in love anymore. There’s this microwaveable sex thing going; courting someone is texting now, and INSTAGRAM is the new Match.com. *Shakes head in disbelief* I love some of the music out, but true R&B can’t be compromised.
Parlé Mag: That said, how have you changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
Lelee: I’m a lot smarter. Be on top of your own shit, and sometimes that’s uncomfortable for people. I like to be more hands on.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s)?
Lelee: My biggest career moment was going platinum. I would’ve never imagined.
Parlé Mag: Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
Lelee: I see myself working (and) raising my grand-baby. Seeing her grow up has been a highlight for me. She breathed life in me again.
Parlé Mag: As for the immediate future, what’s next for you, Ms. Lelee?
Lelee: We go on tour in May for now.
Parlé Mag: You all have been on the road pretty heavy for quite awhile now. For someone yet to witness that whole LIVE experience, what would you tell ’em could be expected?
Lelee: Fun, realness… I talk to the audience as if they’re in our living room. We sing most of the hits everyone loves.
Parlé Mag: Lastly, following the super success of The New Edition Story mini-series on BET, it was reported that SWV would also be getting their very own biopic. Any truth to this rumor?
Lelee: I haven’t signed any papers yet, so we’ll see. There have been some conversations though, I will say that.
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thought(s)?
Lelee: Thank you for the support, and look out for my website coming soon where you’ll be able to purchase merchandise, my book, and be the first to know about all things HerShe Entertainment, Inc. [TV, media, music, etc.], as well as tour dates.
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