We’re not talking the obvious shows like American Idol, Making The Band, and The Voice; every week, millions tune into see their favorite episodes of Love & Hip Hop, R&B Divas, Braxton Family Values, and many other shows that provide a new platform for R&B artists. These top ten artists have gained the most from stepping into reality.
Ok, so I will be the first to admit that I had absolutely no idea that Monifah could sing as well as she can. When it was first announced that Monifah Carter would be a cast member on TV One’s R&B Divas, it raised a few eyebrows; however, after an amazing performance of Syleena Johnson’s “Angry Girl,” which Monifah co-wrote, she silenced most of her critics. Monifah is one of the few cast members who came out without a blemish after the drama of the hit show’s second season. The timing is perfect for a new album for the former Uptown singer.
Everyone knew that K. Michelle was talented long before she popped onto our screens in VH1’s hit series Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. She is actually a member of SoulTrain.com’s inaugural R&B Freshman Class. Everyone also knew that the singer had quite a reputation for having a temper. The question was could K. Michelle bounce back from such a bad reputation and score another recording contract after leaving Sony Music. After becoming one of the standout cast members and releasing a wildly popular mixtape, K. Michelle scored a deal with Atlantic Records and released her debut album, Rebellious Soul, which came in at the top of the charts. The album has been named by critics as one of the best of the year, and placed K. Michelle where she has worked so hard to get to: On top.
Arguably the most business savvy cast member of TV One’s R&B Divas, Syleena Johnson hasn’t had much time to rest the last few years. Since R&B Divas first hit our screen, Johnson has released a live EP, recorded a duet album with Musiq Soulchild, shot her Mommy’s Got Soul DVD, and prepared to tour with the aforementioned Soulchild. All of these accomplishments, and she is still an independent artist. I’d say that’s how you get the most out of an opportunity.
The former first lady of J Records and G Unit has always been on the minds of R&B America. Fans often wondered where the “Bizounce” and “Candy Shop” singer went (I’ll admit I still have her debut album and “Silly B**** In Love” is still in regular rotation). When the R&B songstress appeared on the first season of Love & Hip Hop New York, she echoed the sentiments of singers across the world who cried foul about record labels passing true vocalists by to get to the next trend. Two hit singles later, Olivia is living out her dreams on her own terms.
By no means am I saying that The Real Housewives of Atlanta made Kandi Burruss a success. It is well documented how many accolades Kandi received long before she got on television with Nene and friends. However, she took a good opportunity and turned it into a great situation by releasing her digital EP Fly Away during her first season with the housewives. The EP led to a deal with Warner Bros and another top 10 album for Kandi.
It was difficult to believe that Tamar Braxton was this good. After all, many wrote her off as Toni Braxton’s younger sassy sister who never could get the break she deserved. Early fans of Tamar knew exactly how talented she was, but their cries often fell on deaf ears. In the second season of Braxton Family Values on WE TV, we began to see that Tamar’s claims that she was ready for the spotlight were not just wolf tickets. It was, however, her power ballad “Love and War” that made everyone a believer. Not many expected her to come with such a sincere ballad, including this writer. I guess she made all of us critics have several seats.
Chante’s got a man…and a hit reality show, along with a new album, Moore is More. So many R&B fans were eager to see Chanté on the Los Angeles version of TV One’s R&B Divas. It’s sometimes easy to forget the impact some artists have, but Chanté was ready for action. Armed with a new record deal and a new album released in July, Chanté is wasting no time to capitalize on her renewed fame.
The OMG Girlz
I know. Thank Tiny and Toya’s hit reality show of the same name. It was the format that introduced the teen R&B/hip-hop group to the masses. Though the group definitely doesn’t appeal to the more soulful side of R&B, one cannot ignore it did renew an interest in girl groups.
No we’re not talking about American Idol. It was actually Tasia’s VH1 show Fantasia For Real that gave us more insight and a renewed energy about the High Point, NC soul singer. Let’s not mistake it; Fantasia, in terms of album quality, is one of the most consistent artists to come along in quite a long time. Her reality show taught the world that she was just as humble, down to earth, and sometimes as troubled as the rest of us. The show humanized her, and let fans in on some of her deepest moments.
Willie Norwood Jr. has come a long way from being simply known as Brandy’s brother. After making headlines for his videoed escapade with then-girlfriend Kim Kardashian, Ray J scored a hit reality show with For The Love of Ray J on VH1. A much more believable bachelor than his predecessor Flavor Flav, Ray J’s stock rose with female fans, and subsequently so did his album sales.
Nick Eden is a singer/songwriter/R&B junkie based out of Atlanta, GA. He is a winner of the Steve Harvey New Star Project and appeared on Season 1 of BET/Centric’s Apollo Live. His new single “Let’s Chill” is available for FREE download at http://stepchylderecordings.bandcamp.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickeden and on Facebook.