Wild Orchid (band)
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|Genres||Pop, Soul, R&B|
|Years active||1991 – 2003|
Yellow Brick (2002-2003)
|Associated acts||The Black Eyed Peas|
|Past members||Stacy Ferguson (Fergie)
Wild Orchid was an American pop vocal group, which began under the name "NRG" in 1991, and performed as Wild Orchid during the years 1992–2003. In 2013, US Weekly named the group the #18 Best Girl Group of all-time.
Wild Orchid began in 1990 when Renee Sandstrom and Stefanie Ridel met in their southern California high school's drama department. They decided to form a music group based on their shared love of music and poetry, and they initially called themselves New Rhythm Generation or NRG (energy). Heather Holyoak and Stacy Ann Ferguson (Fergie) soon joined the group and the girls began searching for a record contract. As they wrote their songs and recorded their first single entitled "Get Crazy – Work It", the girls also began coming up with choreographies for their music. Knowing full well that beauty and talent would go a long way, Heather, Renee, Stefanie and Stacy sent a portfolio of photographs out along with their demo tapes. Without waiting around for a record company to call, the girls began performing and singing at nightclubs, charity functions, and began hanging out and singing live at local radio stations.
In February 1991, the then NRG performed at a local LA nightclub for the first time. It was at this time that Heather Holyoak decided that she wanted to return to college, in which case, the three remaining girls began holding auditions to recruit a fourth member. Micki Duran became the newest member of NRG and she had to endure many late nights of learning new lyrics and dance moves since they were set to perform at a large venue in a couple of months.
In July 1991, NRG performed to a sold out crowd at a BMI showcase and the audience embraced the group instantly. After this performance, however, the group began searching for a new manager and managers came pouring in for a chance. Because their previous manager was making claims that he owned the rights to the group's name, the group decided to change it as soon as possible. By 1992, the girls had found their new manager, Marta Marrero (fellow Kids Incorporated alumna AKA Martika), and a new name: "Wild Orchid".
Wild Orchid began meeting with a vast amount of record labels including RCA, EMI, and Capitol, but they still could not manage to get a recording contract. They eventually signed a music publishing deal with Sony Publishing before signing a record contract with RCA Records in 1994. Unfortunately, just before doing so, Micki decided to leave the group because she was working on a television show called Roundhouse. So the quartet became a trio consisting of Stacy, Stefanie, and Renee.
In 1995, the girls spent the year writing music with the support of Renee's songwriter brother Bobby Sandstrom, and their debut album took approximately 9 months to complete. That same year, they recorded the theme song for the NBC sitcom Hope & Gloria which aired between March 1995 and June 1996.
Their first single "At Night I Pray" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B Singles charts in September 1996. A video directed by Marcus Nispel, known for his work with Janet Jackson, was in heavy rotation on MTV and VH-1.
Album Wild Orchid
In March 1997, Wild Orchid released their self-titled debut album Wild Orchid. The largely self-written album sold nearly a million units worldwide (including 108,000 units in the U.S. according to SoundScan) and included the singles "Talk to Me" (featured in the 1997 movie Fools Rush In), "At Night I Pray" and "Supernatural". The album received two Billboard Music Award nominations for "Talk to Me" plus two Soul Train Lady of Soul Award nominations – one for Album of The Year by A Group, Band or Duo and one for Best Music Video for "Talk To Me" and an American Music Award nomination for Favorite R&B/Soul New Artist.
Wild Orchid spent most of 1996–1997 promoting their debut album, making appearances on Ricki Lake, Access Hollywood, MTV, Wild On!, The RuPaul Show, Hard Copy, Vibe, Mad TV, Soul Train, Pat Bullard, Caryl & Marilyn: Real Friends, Terry Bradshaw, Crook and Chase, Jenny Jones, MuchMusic's Electric Circus, as well as a guest appearance on the UPN sitcom Goode Behavior. They were frequent guest hosts on E! Network's The Gossip Show. They went on tour with 98 Degrees and 'N Sync across the U.S., and did their own promotional tour in the U.S., Canada, and Asia.
In May 1998, they released dance remixes of their songs "I Won't Play The Fool" and "Follow Me" (from their debut album) which were underground club hits. "I Won't Play The Fool" remix landed on a Top 10 Dance Remixes Chart of 1998 in Billboard. That same month, they performed at "Divas Simply Singing", an annual AIDS benefit concert in Los Angeles hosted by Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Album Oxygen and tours
In September 1998, they released their second album, Oxygen which included the first and only single "Be Mine". The album sold 22,000 copies in the U.S. according to Billboard. The album release coincided with their stint as Guess spokespersons and models. They embarked on a brief promotional tour throughout the U.S., continued to host on E!'s The Gossip Show, and performed "Be Mine" on Donny and Marie. Fergie later recounted that during this tour (when their popularity had already plummeted), they performed at a county fair next to a barn of pigs and with an audience of only 3 people, and she woefully described how "the pigs cared more (about us) than the people".
In September 1998, Wild Orchid started to host the Fox Family Channel's Saturday morning show Great Pretenders, which featured chart hits lip-synched by everyday kids, while competing for prizes. This show lasted four seasons from 1998 to 2001.
In February 1999, the group performed "Declaration" and "Come As You Are" at the fictitious Peach Pit After Dark during the ninth season of the Aaron Spelling primetime soap-drama Beverly Hills, 90210 (episode titled "Beheading St. Valentine").
For a period in 1999, there was discussion of the group returning to the studio to record songs for a re-release of their album Oxygen, due to poor sales of the original version. A remix version of their ballad "Come As You Are" (presumably re-recorded for the planned re-release of Oxygen) was leaked onto the Internet, but this version was never officially released, and neither was a new version of Oxygen.
In November 1999, they sang a two-minute clip of their song "25 Days Of Christmas" in Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Parade which was broadcast live on NBC.
Between 1999 and 2000, the group worked on their third album Fire, which included several tracks co-written and produced by JC Chasez from the pop group 'N Sync. The album was slated for a Summer/Fall 2000 release according to Billboard, however the release date was eventually pushed back to Summer 2001. There is widespread speculation, fueled in part by Stacy Ferguson's own reports in future interviews as Fergie, that Stacy spent much of the year 2000 spiraling downward in a crystal-meth addiction fueled by a bad breakup and her frustration by the group's change in musical direction towards teen dance-pop. At one point, Stacy wrote a song about her drug use, called "Losing My Ground" and when her bandmates Renee and Stefanie heard it, they staged an intervention which eventually helped Stacy get clean from her drug use. Ironically, this song was later included on Fergie's album The Dutchess and both Renee and Stefanie were given songwriting credit.
In December 2000, their song "It's All Your Fault" was featured in the film What Women Want with Mel Gibson, but was not included on the movie soundtrack. This song was also slated to appear on their unreleased third album, Fire.
In May 2001, the group released the first single from their album Fire called "Stuttering (Don't Say)", which reached #33 on the Billboard Top 40 Singles Sales chart, and had a concert special on MuchUSA called Shoutback on July 29, 2001 (which was taped in New York City on April 8, 2001). They also became models for Bongo Jeans, and their advertisement was featured in the August 2001 issue of Cosmopolitan. They co-wrote the song "What's Good 4 The Goose" which was recorded by the pop group Eden's Crush on their debut album Popstars, released in May 2001. They went on a US promotional tour for Fire between May and July 2001, where they performed mainly in clubs and small venues with other teen-pop acts.
On May 28, 2001, radio station KDWB in Minneapolis hosted a concert which featured both Wild Orchid and hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas. It was during this fateful event that Stacy Ferguson met will.i.am, spoke to him about producing her solo album, and exchanged phone numbers with him. They would meet again several months later when their mutual friend Dante Santiago recruited Stacy to sing on the track "Shut Up" from The Black Eyed Peas' album Elephunk.
June 19, 2001 was the targeted release date of the group's third album, Fire, however their record label RCA declined to release it. This event marked the beginning of the end of Wild Orchid as a trio. On July 19, 2001, the group performed their final concert together as a trio at Sea World in San Diego. On July 24, 2001, they filmed their final episode (Season 4) of "Great Pretenders", and the show was cancelled ten days later upon the announcement that Fox Family Channel was merging with ABC.
In September 2001, the group was dropped from RCA. At that point Stacy Ferguson left Wild Orchid, and in a 2006 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stacy (then known as Fergie) revealed that both frustrations with the band's image and personal drug problems led her to leave the group. In 2002, she joined The Black Eyed Peas under the stage name Fergie.
Between 2002 and 2003, Wild Orchid continued as a duo with Renee and Stefanie. Their album Hypnotic was released exclusively on the group's website in January 2003, and reportedly sold 5000 copies online. The group had three concerts that year: Key Club in Hollywood on March 18, 2003, Los Angeles Gay Pride Festival on June 22, 2003, and Lake Havasu Gay Pride Festival on November 8, 2003 which was Wild Orchid's final concert together.
On September 26, 2006, Talk To Me: Hits, Rarities & Gems was released by Sony BMG Special Products. It is fundamentally a greatest-hits package, featuring (all previously released) singles and album tracks from Wild Orchid and Oxygen as well as the lone single from Fire, "Stuttering (Don't Say)" and its B-side, "Lies".
Renee Sandstrom is now primarily a session singer for children's music. She provided the singing voice for 'Princess Fiona' in the movie Shrek 2. Also, her vocals are prominently featured on several Disney albums, including: SuperStar Kidz (2003), Superstar Kidz 2 (2004), Mousercise (2007), Disney Cuties (2008), Camp Rock Soundtrack (2008), and Playhouse Disney Let's Dance (2010). In 2007, she sang with Ruben Martinez in "Just Like We Dreamed It", which was the theme song for the 15th anniversary of Disneyland Resort Paris. The song was released as a single exclusively in France on March 31, 2007. She also sang on several television commercials, including the ditty "Pump It Up" for Crystal Light, which was briefly available as an online download. She starred in the 2008 movie American Indian as Young Darlene, however this movie was never released. She wrote the music for the song "On Penguin Pond" featured on the Jim Henson Company's Sid The Science Kid Soundtrack – Volume One (2009).
Stefanie Ridel has turned her focus towards writing and producing music. She co-wrote and produced tracks for the following artists: Slumber Party Girls, Joanna Pacitti, Prima J, Girlicious, Pussycat Dolls, LaKisha Jones, Orianthi, Days Difference, Allison Iraheta, Vanessa Amorosi, Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera (on the Burlesque Motion Picture Soundtrack), and two tracks on Fergie's debut CD The Dutchess. Stefanie also co-founded the Talent Bootcamp, in which she coaches young aspiring musical artists. Between 2004 and 2005, Stefanie was the lead singer for the techno-dance duo 5th Element with DJ Rain, and their album was released exclusively online on DJ Rain's website. Stefanie's singing voice was heard on the Bratz: The Movie Motion Picture Soundtrack (2007), in which she sang the lead on two songs and co-wrote and co-produced many others. She is also an avid bowler. Stefanie is currently married to former Wild Orchid producer and Geffen Records President Ron Fair. They have three children together.
|Year||Title||Album||Hot 100||Sales||Top 40||R&B||Canada|
|1996||"At Night I Pray"||Wild Orchid||63||–||29||67||29|
|1997||"Talk to Me"||Wild Orchid||48||10||31||85||38|
|2001||"Stuttering (Don't Say)"||Fire||–||–||33||–||–|
|1996||"At Night I Pray"||Wild Orchid|
|1996||"At Night I Pray (Director Version)"||Wild Orchid|
|1997||"Talk to Me"||Wild Orchid|
|1997||"Talk to Me (Junior Vasquez Mix)"||Wild Orchid|
|1997||"Supernatural (Remix) (featuring K-Borne)"||Wild Orchid|
Awards and nominations
|1997||Nominated||Billboard Music Award ||Best Clip – Dance||"Talk to Me"|
|Nominated||Billboard Music Award||Best New Artist Clip – Dance||"Talk to Me"|