Zhané

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Zhané
JeanNorrisBaylor.jpg
Jean Norris-Baylor of Zhané
Background information
Origin Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres R&B, dance, neo soul, new jack swing, hip hop soul
Years active 1993–1999
Labels Flavor Unit/Epic
Motown
Associated acts Queen Latifah
Past members Renee Neufville
Jean Norris-Baylor

Zhané (pronounced Jah-Nay) was an American R&B/hip hop soul duo, best known for their 1993 hit "Hey Mr. D.J.", which reached No. 6 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.[1] Other popular hits include "Groove Thang" (U.S. No. 17) and minor hit "Sending My Love," both released in 1994. The group was part of Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit collective.

Biography[edit]

In the early 1990s, Renée Neufville and Jean Norris initially met while both were attending Philadelphia's Temple University and used to sing together at talent shows and other events. Although not a group, they collaborated on each other’s songs. In 1991, the pair met DJ Jazzy Jeff and their first professional recording together was "Ring My Bell" on the same album that featured DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s “Summertime”. Former Warner Bros. executive Benny Medina suggested they become a group. For the name, Neufville had the idea of using the French pronunciation of their first names Jean and Renée, which sounded like “Jahnay”. According to Norris "we added a 'Z' for a little flavor and we came up with Zhané."[2]

Given a high-profile spot on the all-star compilation Roll Wit Tha Flava as their first recording opportunity, Zhané came away with one of the hip-hop party anthems of all time, "Hey, Mr. D.J." After meeting Naughty by Nature member Kay Gee, Zhané (then credited as Jhané) impressed the producer enough to go right into the studio to record for Roll Wit tha Flava. When "Hey, Mr. D.J." was released as a separate single as well, it hit number six on the pop charts and earned the group a contract with Motown in 1994. Their debut album, Pronounced Jah-Nay, produced two further Top 40 hits ("Groove Thang," "Sending My Love") and went gold by the end of the year; it achieved platinum status two years later. Zhané kept busy during 1995-1996 with spots on tracks by Busta Rhymes and De La Soul as well as new songs of their own on the NFL Jams and NBA 50th Anniversary compilations and the soundtracks to Higher Learning and A Low Down Dirty Shame — the latter, "Shame," became their fourth Top 40 hit.

Norris and Neufville released the follow-up album Saturday Night in 1997, co-produced by Kay Gee, Eddie F., and themselves. The release featured the hit single "Request Line." A remix with different lyrics and raps by Queen Latifah followed. It peaked just outside the Top 40.

Since the group's dissolution, Jean Norris married musician Marcus Baylor, perhaps best known as the drummer in one of jazz fusion's leading ensembles, the Yellowjackets from 2000-2010. Jean Baylor released the solo album Testimony: My Life in June 2011 and a contemporary Christmas album entitled Light Up the World in November of the same year. Neufville hosted an early live internet series called 88 Soul where guests included well-known R&B/Neo-Soul artists such as Jill Scott, Carl Thomas, Kelis and Joe. She later contributed to albums and videos by the likes of India.Arie, Will Downing, Heather Headley, Leela James and Aaliyah amongst others. She became involved in Roy Hargrove's RH Factor project and figured prominently on the 2006 release Distractions playing keyboards and contributing lead vocals.[3]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
US
[4]
US
R&B

[4]
AUS
[5]
CAN
[6]
FRA
[7]
UK
[8]
1994 Pronounced Jah-Nay
  • Released: February 4, 1994
  • Label: Motown
  • Formats: CD, cassette
37 8 50 44
  • US: Platinum [9]
1997 Saturday Night
  • Released: April 22, 1997
  • Label: Motown
  • Formats: CD, cassette
41 8 90 26 52
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
US
[4]
US
R&B

[4]
US
Dan

[4]
AUS
[5]
AUT
[10]
CAN
[6]
FRA
[7]
GER
[11]
NZ
[12]
SWI
[13]
UK
[8]
1993 "Hey Mr. D.J." 6 3 2 9 27 32 29 20 42 26 Pronounced Jah-Nay
1994 "Groove Thang" 17 2 13 17 42 99 7 34
"Sending My Love" 40 5
"Vibe" 119 33 67
"Shame" 28 12 46 79 50 66 A Low Down Dirty Shame
1995 "You're Sorry Now" 38 Pronounced Jah-Nay
1997 "Request Line" 39 9 12 22 Saturday Night
"Saturday Night" [A] 69
"Crush" 106 24 44
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
Note

A Did not chart on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (Billboard rules at the time prevented album cuts from charting). Chart peak listed represents the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

Featured singles[edit]

Year Title Artist Peak chart positions Album
US US
R&B
NZ UK
1995 "Freedom (Theme from Panther)" Various Artists 45 18 Panther
1996 "It's a Party" Busta Rhymes 52 27 34 23 The Coming
1997 "4 More" De La Soul 52 Stakes Is High
1999 "Jamboree" Naughty by Nature 10 4 22 51 Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature's Fury
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

References[edit]

External links[edit]