DeBarge family

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The DeBarge Family
Origin Detroit, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
(United States)
Genres R&B, soul, quiet storm, neo soul, gospel
Years active 1974 - present
Labels Motown

The DeBarge family is a family of rhythm and blues artists from Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Family members[edit]

Robert Louis DeBarge, Sr. (1932–2009) was a soldier who served for the United States Armed forces and was of French descent.[1] He met Etterlene Abney, who is African American, in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1950s. They married in 1953, with Robert being 21 and Etterlene going on 18. They stayed together for 21 years before divorcing in 1974. The children claimed that their father sexually abused several of them, which the father denied.

Robert and Etterlene have 10 children:

Recording artists and groups within the family[edit]

Etterlene DeBarge[edit]

She has recorded major label releases, Etterlene has recorded gospel material mostly with members of her family with her own independent gospel releases. She is known by the name, "Mama DeBarge" or "Mama D" for short.

Switch (Bobby and Tommy)[edit]

Brothers Bobby and Tommy rose to fame in the late 1970s as members of the R & B group Switch, which recorded exclusively for the Motown label. Earlier, Bobby had joined a group as background members for Barry White called White Heat. Tommy was included in Bobby's new band Switch and the group would have success in 1978 with the top ten R&B single, "There'll Never Be". The group's first two albums became million-selling successes and the band's success would influence a generation of self-contained R&B bands such as Tony, Toni, Tone and Mint Condition.

DeBarge (Bunny, Randy, Mark, El and James)[edit]

Forming in 1979 as The DeBarges, the band originally included four members - Bunny, Randy, Mark and El - moved to Los Angeles and signed with Motown where they went under a two-year training process by Motown's staff before releasing their first album in 1981. With the inclusion of 18-year-old James in early 1982, the group changed their name to DeBarge and released their first million-selling album, All This Love, later that year. From 1982 to 1985, DeBarge released three gold-certified albums and released more than ten hit singles. After disbanding shortly in 1986, a reinvented version of the group now featuring Bobby DeBarge and excluding El and Bunny, released a record in 1988 before disbanding the following year due to Bobby's conviction of drug offenses.

El DeBarge[edit]

After leaving DeBarge for a solo career in 1986, El DeBarge had modest success as a solo artist peaking with the hit "Who's Johnny" and finding fame as a featured vocalist on several hip-hop and quiet storm-leaning R&B productions including most prominently "Secret Garden" with Quincy Jones and his cover of Marvin Gaye's "After the Dance" with Fourplay. DeBarge's career was halted in the mid-1990s by personal problems which later resulted in arrests. This period culminated in 2008 with a conviction on crack cocaine charges after DeBarge violated his probation on a previous drug conviction, resulting in two arrest warrants. DeBarge was released from incarceration in October 2009, declaring himself both sober and a born-again Christian. He has since returned to his music career and released his first studio album since 1994, Second Chance, on November 30, 2010.

Bobby DeBarge[edit]

Though he remained a collaborator with his brothers and sister, Bobby DeBarge struggled with personal problems that ended his career. In 1988, he and Chico were convicted of drug trafficking charges in Michigan. After serving six years, DeBarge discovered he had AIDS and tried recording an album - It's Not Over, his only solo project, was released in 1996 following DeBarge's death from AIDS in 1995 at the age of 39.

Bunny DeBarge[edit]

In 1986, Motown released Bunny's only solo project, In Love, which flopped due to Motown's failure to promote despite the best efforts of her first and only single, "Save the Best of Your Lovin'". Most known for writing the hits "I Like It" and "A Dream" She now records independently as a gospel artist. She, Randy, James and Bunny's daughter appeared on an episode of Lifechangers to talk about their drug problems.

James DeBarge[edit]

Though he hasn't had any solo success since DeBarge's breakup, James is most notable for his personal relationship and short marriage to R&B and pop singer Janet Jackson during the early 1980s. James and Jackson annulled their marriage in 1985 because of James' drug problems and disapproval from Jackson's parents Joseph and Katherine.[2] In 2001, James recorded a song with Won-G Bruny and Traci Bingham called Nothing's Wrong, The music video didn't feature Traci but James has lip-synced both parts of the chorus, his and Traci's.

Kristinia DeBarge[edit]

James' daughter Kristinia was 19 when Island Records / Sodapop released her debut album, Exposed, in July 2009.

Chico DeBarge[edit]

Chico was 18 when he released his first album in 1985. The first single, "Talk to Me", became a top forty smash for Chico. Branded as the "new star" of the DeBarge family, his career was interrupted by an arrest on drug trafficking charges with his brother Bobby in 1988. After a six-year prison term, Chico DeBarge was released and returned to music pioneering a new sound in R&B music titled Neo Classic Soul under the UMG label Kedar Ent. in 1997 recording the hit album, 1997's Long Time No See reemerging in the neo soul scene of the late 1990s., Chico is the only solo DeBarge in the family to date to have achieved certified Gold album status. In 2009, he detailed his drug addiction on his recent release, Addiction.since the release of addiction Chico DeBarge has been sober and touring while recording a new CD.


  1. ^ Debarge Family Tree
  2. ^

External links[edit]