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Friday, February 18, 2011

Ariél - Ariél (1995)

Here is another little-known 90's gem for you, in response to a request to feature more 90s R&B girl groups. Ariél were an R&B trio consisting of Zwehla Taylor, Simone Harrison and Alana Wilson. From what little info I can gather, the group was formed by multi-talented jazz trombonist Gregory Royal (not to be confused with hip hop producer Greg 'Ski' Royal), who was also their producer. At least one member, Simone, attended the 'Fame'd LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts in New York. The other two members were perhaps Canadian, as Royal's Wikipedia entry claims that the group was Canadian and charted in Canada with two songs, "Can't Let Love" and "Trust The Love You See". I find this unlikely as I am from Canada and I had never heard of them until I picked this up for $1 several years ago. Whatever the case, Royal constructed a 'new jack swing' sound for the girls, which was popular at the time. He also added plenty of jazz flourishes, as is evident on tracks like "Jazz Horn Players", "Ariél's In The House" and "Traffic Cop", which utilizes an unreleased track by Duke Ellington, whom Greg Royal worked with extensively. There is also some rap and spoken word courtesy of Zwelha. The first single was "Do The Boodiewop", which was one of the most straight-forward 'new jack swing' tracks on the album. The song was not a hit, and it would seem that no other singles were released, despite the claims of the Wikipedia entry. The group likely broke up soon after. What Zwehla and Alana got up to remains to be seen, but I did find out that Simone is working as an adviser with The Artist's Playground Theatre in her hometown of Brooklyn and also does voice work. She has also kept busy as an actress and apparently works behind the scenes on the TV show 30 Rock. She also released an independent solo album, Spoken Emotions, in 2002. As for Greg Royal, he has kept busy in many different areas, as a musician, author and even a football player. And, surprisingly, he has kept the music of Ariél alive. His off-Broadway musical play, It's A Hardbop Life, which debuted in 2004 and still continues to run in New York City, utilizes seven tracks that first appeared on Ariel's album. Royal has also been in the news recently for an odd lawsuit against Sarah Palin, claiming that she failed to issue a proclamation in Alaska in 2007 for a celebration commemorating the freeing of U.S. slaves! I truly never know what to expect when researching for this blog! LOL

Download Ariél

Can't Let Love
Jazz Horn Players
Poem Of Love
Do The Boodiewop
Traffic Cops Oops
Ariel's In The House
I'll Hold On To The End
If I Had The Chance
Work Me!
Feel The Beat Rock The Beat
Trust The Love You See
Traffic Cop
Can't Let Love (Smooth Mix)