Classic: Soul II Soul

Early Life: Soul II Soul has been around for decades since 1982 to be exact. The soul group started their career by playing their records at house and street parties, a year later the group was officially made up of Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler, Doreen Waddell, Rose Windross, Daddae, Aitch B and Jazzie Q the band continued to play small shows and their records at parties until the release of their first single "Fairplay" with Windross on the lead vocals, went mainstream. 

By the end of the 80's, Soul II Soul had built a monstrous following as a sound system collective in the U.K starting in 1982., according to waxpoetic.com, Trevor "Jazzie B" Beresford Romeo, the sound system's maestro began to develop and implement plan of success to his musical outfit. 

"Fairplay" only went on to be 63 on the British Singles Chart, the UK's equivalent to the U.S's Billboard charts, because of the low ratings, the song failed to create a buzz for the group. The single that came right after Fairplay, was "Feel Free", which featured Doreen on lead and vocals but it only topped Fairplay by one ranking on the singles charts so their second single did not bring recognition to the band too.

Their breakthrough single came in March of 1989, the group released "Keep On Moving" featuring Caron Wheeler on lead vocals. The song became a worldwide success, unlike their previous releases. Keep On Moving sold over one million copies in the U.S. The following month, the group released their first album, Club Classics Vol. One. The album ranked at No.1 on the UK album chart and sold over four million copies worldwide. The band continued their success streak with another chart topper, "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me" , the song peaked at No.1 on the UK Singles chart and on the UK R&B chart. Back to Live won the group it's first Grammy Award for Best R&B performance in 1990.

1990's: The next decade brought more success to the group, and a change in the lineup. In the early 1990's, Wheeler left the group to pursue a solo career. To fill the spot, Jazzie B turned to a few singers he had previously known. Kym Mazelle, Lamya, and Victoria Wilson were added to the group. The new official lineup released the band's second album Voll II--A New Decade which peaked at No. 1 on the UK charts. 

The second single under the band's belt, "A Dream's a Dream" which featured Victoria Wilson James on lead vocals, lead success for the band. That singled followed up by "People" , featuring Lewis on lead vocals did not do as well as "A Dream's a Dream" but gained recognition. 

After a short-lived success as a part of Soul II Soul, members Wilson-James, Mazelle, and Lewis left the group to pursue solo careers.

By 1991, the band already needed to replace the band members. With the band need of vocals for the recording of their third album, Jazzie B recruited guest singers Richie Stephens. Kofi, Penny Ford, Rick Clarke, along with the comeback of Caron Wheeler to record on the album. 

During the next couples of years, Soul II Soul prepared to record their fourth album, Caron Wheeler committed to the recording of the group's fourth album. During the recording sessions, Wheeler and Jazzie B struggled with creative difficulties for the production of the album. This lead to Wheeler leaving Soul II Soul for the second time during the recording of the song "Love Enuff". This left Soul II Soul without a lead vocalist, and Jazzie B was left to recruit a new singer once again. He recruited Penny Ford, background vocalist for the group's single "Move Me No Mountain", another background vocalist that toured with the group on their previous tour also joined the group.

During the years between 1998 through 2002, the group officially disbanded, with each member starting their own solo careers. After the whole group went their separate ways, with members including Wilson-James, Mazelle, Lamya, and Kelly all moving forward to solo careers whose albums all reached their own success. 

After a brief hiatus, Soul II Soul System that features Caron Wheeler toured Australia nationally in 2009. They also performed at the Playground Weekender Festival near Sydney. 

Backstory: What's the Story behind the creation of Soul II Soul?

In an interview with waxpoetics.com, Jazzie B said "my whole concept for Soul II Soul started in 1977, everyone was around because of the club singles thing I was doing.. In terms of assembling the people for the sound system in the early days, I don't think people knew what they were getting themselves into, honestly". Jazzie stated "This goes back to the origins of the old sound systems as well, because, in a sound system, you would also have many different MC's or DJ's, all of these things combined to form Soul II Soul.

Soul II Soul had a lot of success during their career, being nominated for five American Music Awards, for Soul II Soul, Keep On Moving, Back to Life, and the group was nominated for "Favorite Dance New Artist", "Favorite Soul/R&B/Band/Duo/Group" and "Favorite Dance New Artist". The group has also been nominated for five Brit awards, and four Grammy's, the band won two Grammy's for "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me" and "African Dance". 

 

Nicole Pujazon