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|Origin||St. Paul, Minnesota, United States|
|Members||Stokley Williams |
|Past members||Keri Lewis|
Mint Condition is an American R&B band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The band fuses diverse genres such as jazz, hip hop, funk and dance into its music. Mint Condition has also been nominated for four Grammy and Soul Train Awards. The group is credited with being one of the last major funk bands to chart before hip hop and New Jack Swing dominated black music in the 1990s.
As a band, Mint Condition came into being during the early 1980s. At first, the band consisted of lead singer and (in-studio) drummer Stokley Williams, lead guitarist Homer O'Dell, and keyboardist Larry Waddell. Keyboardist/saxophonist Jeff Allen, keyboardist/percussionist/rhythm guitarist Keri Lewis, and bass guitarist Rick Kinchen completed the original lineup. They were discovered by music producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in 1989, during a performance at the downtown Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue. Jam and Lewis signed Mint Condition to Perspective Records soon afterward. Their debut album, Meant to Be Mint, was released on June 11, 1991 by Perspective. Despite the band's musical versatility, they attempted to attract new jack swing listeners with their dance cut "Are You Free", but it wasn't successful (the song hit #55 on the R&B charts). However, they did enjoy major success with the ballad "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)"; it stayed on the charts for 34 weeks, hitting the R&B top 5 (#3), and the Pop Top 10 (#6) and was certified gold by the RIAA. Their third single, "Forever In Your Eyes", was also a successful Top 10 R&B hit (#7 R&B). Two years later, they released their second album, From The Mint Factory (1993). They enjoyed success with the single "U Send Me Swingin'" which peaked at #2 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart for four weeks straight in the spring of 1994. The song was also a smash on the Rhythmic Top 40 charts where it reached #14. The band's next two singles, "Someone to Love" and "So Fine", were Billboard Top 30 R&B hits, reaching the #28, and #29 spots respectively.
In September 1996, the band released Definition of a Band, which peaked in the R&B Top 15. The first successful single on this album was the Billboard R&B smash hit single "What Kind Of Man Would I Be?", about remaining faithful in a relationship (#2 R&B, #17 Pop). The single crept up to the number 2 spot on the Billboard R&B charts in a matter of weeks and received a Gold certification by the RIAA that December. "What Kind Of Man Would I Be?" was so popular that it stayed on the Billboard R&B Charts for a total of 41 weeks before it finally fell off. "You Don't Have to Hurt No More", the second single released from Definition of a Band, was also a Top 10 R&B hit. (#10 R&B, #32 pop). The success of these two singles, along with positive reviews of the album, allowed Definition of a Band to reach Gold status as well.
Two years later, the group released The Collection: 1991-1998, a greatest hits compilation. After Perspective Records/A&M folded, the group signed with Elektra Records in 1999 and released their fourth full-length album, Life's Aquarium, which also debuted in the Top 10 (#7 R&B). Its main single, "If You Love Me", hit the R&B Top 5 and stayed on the R&B charts for 31 weeks. The second single, "Is This Pain Our Pleasure", peaked at #42, while also peaking at #34 on the R&B Airplay Charts.
2000s: Livin' The Luxury Brown and E-Life
After a six-year hiatus, the group resurfaced as a quintet because keyboard player Keri Lewis left the group to produce for other artists, such as his wife, singer Toni Braxton, and then joined the entertainment division at Santa Fe Station Casino. In 2005, they released Livin' The Luxury Brown on their independent label Caged Bird Records. The album hit #1 on the Independent Album Charts. In 2006, the group released Live From The 9:30 Club, a performance of a concert at the 9:30 club in Washington DC.
In 2008, they released E-Life, which debuted at #8 on the Billboard R&B album chart, and spawned two singles, "Baby Boy, Baby Girl" and "Nothing Left To Say". The second single, "Nothing Left To Say", became the band's first Top 30 R&B single in almost a decade (#27 R&B) as well as a Top 5 Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary hit, which peaked at #3.
2010–present: 7..., Tour with Prince, TV appearances
In December 2010, Mint Condition joined Prince and an ensemble cast of R&B and jazz musicians for his Welcome 2 America tour. On April 5, 2011, with the group's 20th anniversary approaching, Mint Condition celebrated with the release of their seventh studio album, titled 7.... It was produced by Shanachie Records and contained several hits, including "Caught My Eye" as well as their collaboration with Kelly Price, "Not My Daddy". During the month of February,[when?] Mint Condition appeared as the house band for TV One's program Way Black When, which celebrated the greatest African American music artists throughout the '70s, 80's, and '90s.
In September 2012, the group released Music At The Speed Of Life. That December, Mint Condition was entered into the Soul Music Hall of Fame.
In 2021, a youth at youth villages obtained information that Jeff Allen works at youth villages in Douglasville, GA. Rumor has it they will be getting back together in the next 12 months
- Meant to Be Mint (1991)
- From the Mint Factory (1993)
- Definition of a Band (1996)
- Life's Aquarium (1999)
- Livin' the Luxury Brown (2005)
- E-Life (2008)
- 7... (2011)
- Music at the Speed of Life (2012)
- Healing Season (2015)
Awards and nominations
|2016||Healing Season||Best R&B Album||Nominated|
Soul Train Music Award
|1997||Definition of a Band||Best R&B/Soul Album by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|1997||What Kind Of Man Would I Be||Best R&B/Soul Single by a Group, Band or Duo||Nominated|
|2005||Livin' the Luxury Brown||Best R&B/Soul Album by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
SoulTracks Readers' Choice Awards
- Winners: Independent Album of the Year Mint Condition - Music @ the Speed of LIfe* (2013)
- Winners: Duo or Group of the Year- Mint Condition* (2012)
- Winners: Duo or Group of the Year- Mint Condition* (2011)
- Winners: Album of the Year Mint Condition - e-Life* (2008)
- Winners: Duo or Group of the Year - Mint Condition* (2008)
SoulMusic Hall Of Fame at SoulMusic.com
- Inducted: Contemporary Soul Music Artist/Group Or Duo* (December 2012)
- "Mint Condition". allmusic.com.
- Thornton, Cedric (7 May 2014). "African American Festival Performer: 10 Facts about Performers Mint Condition". blackenterprise.com. Black Enterprise. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
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- "1997 Soul Train Music Awards". awardsandwinners.com.
- "2005 Soul Train Music Awards". awardsandwinners.com.
- "Stokley, Longtime Mint Condition Leader, Scores a Solo Hit". 22 April 2020.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2013-10-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Mint Condition. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- Robson, Britt (November 25, 2008). "The enduring honesty of Mint Condition". MinnPost. Archived from the original on October 26, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- "Elton, Fugees Score Big In October RIAA Certifications". Billboard Magazine. 15 November 1997. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
-  Soul Train. Retrieved on 2013-09-30.
- SoulMusic.com. SoulMusic.com. Retrieved on 2013-06-01.