Rozonda Thomas

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Rozonda Thomas
Thomas in 2016
Thomas in 2016
Background information
Birth nameRozonda Ocielian Thomas
Also known asChilli
Born (1971-02-27) February 27, 1971 (age 49)
Columbus, Georgia, U.S.
  • Singer
  • actress
  • television personality
Years active1991–present
Associated acts

Rozonda Ocielian Thomas (born February 27, 1971), better known by her stage name Chilli, is an American singer-songwriter, dancer, actress, television personality and model who rose to fame in the early 1990s as a member of group TLC, one of the best-selling girl groups of the late 20th century.

Early life[edit]

Thomas was born in Columbus , Georgia and graduated from Benjamin Elijah Mays High School in 1989.[2] Her father, Abdul Ali, is of African and Bengali descent, and her mother, Ava Thomas, is African American. Thomas, who had been raised by her mother, later allowed the Sally Jessy Raphael television talk show to air footage of her meeting her father for the first time in 1996, when she was 25.[3][4]

When she was a child, her great grandmother, whom she called Big Mama, took her to the Seventh-day Adventist Church[5][6]

Music career[edit]

1991–present: TLC[edit]

Thomas was first a dancer for Damian Dame. In 1991, she joined TLC, replacing founding member Crystal Jones, and was nicknamed "Chilli" by Lisa Lopes so that the group could retain the name TLC. The group went on to sell over 65 million records worldwide and became the best-selling American girl group of all-time; only the Spice Girls has sold more.[7] Chilli has won four Grammy Awards for her work with TLC.[8]

Since the death of group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in April 2002, Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins have occasionally performed as a duo. In 2009, Thomas and Watkins performed a series of concerts in Asia.[citation needed]

In late 2011, VH1 announced plans to produce a biopic on TLC to air in 2013.[9] Thomas and Watkins have signed on as producers. Actress and singer Keke Palmer portrayed Thomas in CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.[10]

In 2019, Thomas lost her voice and was ordered by doctors not to sing. TLC then had to cancel their singing for the California State Fair and the Stanislaus State Fair.[11]

Solo career[edit]

Thomas began working on her solo album in 2000 after the completion of promotion for TLC's third album, FanMail (1999). She ceased production when work began on the next TLC album, 3D (2002). In 2006, rumors circulated that she had signed a four-album deal with singer/rapper Akon's label Kon Live Distribution. She later denied these reports and confirmed that she was entertaining offers from other record labels. It was confirmed that the name of the album would be titled Bi-Polar, but due to scheduling conflicts and constant delays, the album was shelved. The album was once rumored to include work by Missy Elliott as well as tracks produced by T-Pain and Tricky Stewart. Certain tracks that were intended for the album were leaked from 2006 to 2008. A track titled "Gameproof", which featured her TLC bandmate T-Boz, was leaked in spring 2006. On February 16, 2007, "Straight Jack", a track featuring Missy Elliott and produced by Polow da Don was leaked. The track entered the Deutsche Black Chart in at #35.[12] In early April 2008, Thomas's first official solo single, "Dumb, Dumb, Dumb" was released.[13]

In 2012, Thomas appeared as the leading lady in R&B singer Tyrese's music video for his single "Nothing On You."

In January 2016, she released a new solo single, "Body", which served to promote her new fitness workout campaign.[14]

Acting and television roles[edit]

Thomas made guest appearances on television shows such as The Parkers, Single Ladies, That 70s Show, Living Single and Strong Medicine. In 1992, she made a brief cameo in the video for "Jump" by Kriss Kross. In 2000, she was featured in the made-for-television movies A Diva's Christmas Carol and Love Song (with close friend Monica), and in the film Snow Day. In 2001, she co-starred in the action film Ticker, directed by Albert Pyun and House Party 3. She also played a small role in the 1998 film Hav Plenty. In 2011, Thomas made cameo appearances throughout the first season of VH1's Single Ladies. She appeared again on the show's second season performing her unreleased track, "Flirt", written by Tiyon "TC" Mack and produced by Soundz.

In 2005, Thomas and Watkins looked for a new TLC member in the reality series R U The Girl.[15] In June 2009, VH1 announced the airing of a reality TV series starring Thomas. The series, What Chilli Wants, which documents Thomas's quest to find love and manage her life with the help of love and relationship expert Tionna Tee Smalls, premiered on April 11, 2010.[16] The second season of What Chilli Wants premiered on January 2, 2011.[17]

In 2013, Thomas became a member of "Team Guy" on the second season of Food Network's Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. She also appeared naked in a PETA anti-circus ad campaign.[18] Thomas also appeared on episode 14 of WWE Countdown where she spoke about The Rock.[19] Thomas was a judge for truTV's reality series Fake Off which premiered on October 27, 2014.[15]

In 2016, it was announced she had joined the cast of the film Marshall which is a biopic on the life of Thurgood Marshall; she plays Zora Neale Hurston.[20]

Personal life[edit]

At age 20, Thomas became pregnant by producer Dallas Austin; however due to career aspirations and the outside pressures, she aborted the pregnancy. She later revealed that she regretted the decision. Thomas and Austin continued their relationship, and would later have one son, Tron Austin (born June 2, 1997). In 2001, Thomas began dating Usher, after she starred in his music videos for "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad". Their relationship lasted for two years: they broke up in December 2003, followed by a media frenzy surrounding the personal nature of Usher's fourth album, Confessions. His fans inferred the reason he and Thomas split is due to infidelity on his part, giving allusions to the lyrics of the songs.[21] In an interview on The Bert Show on the Atlanta radio channel Q100 on February 17, 2004, Thomas claimed that Usher cheated on her: "Usher did the ultimate no-no to me....I will never be with him again, and that is that".[22] Usher defended: "it just didn't work out. But cheating is not what caused the relationship to collide and crash. That ain't what broke it up".[21]

Rozonda credits Doug Bachelor and Amazing Facts on television for making a difference on her walk with God. She later met and talked to Doug Bachelor at the National Religion Broadcasters Convention in Nashville[5][6]

Other ventures[edit]

Thomas and the rest of the members of TLC were big proponents of encouraging safe sex. For the music video of the song, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" Thomas and other band members wore condoms on their clothing. In 2003, Thomas and Watkins teamed up with Agouron Pharmaceuticals to create a national education program about HIV/AIDS. The program supplied people with information about HIV/AIDS, including prevention and treatment.[23]

In 2012, Thomas started a non-profit organization called Chilli's Crew. The organization is an Atlanta program targeted to help girls between the ages of 13-17 with self-esteem issues.[24]

She also markets a line of handbags called Bags by Chilli.[25]

In 2013, Thomas took a stand against cyberbullying after her son Tron was a victim. The gossip site targeted Thomas's son because of his apparel and questioned his sexuality. In response, Thomas created a petition through to get the article deleted from the site and to stop staff members from gossiping about minors entirely. In her petition, she described what cyberbullying is and statistics about some of the victims. The site ended up removing the article and issuing an apology to her son.[26]

In December 2018, Thomas was chosen to be a model for DAYO luxury loungewear.[27]


Featured singles[edit]

  • "Dumb Dumb Dumb" (2008)
  • "Let's Just Do It" (Lisa Lopes featuring Missy Elliott and TLC) (2009)
  • "Body" (2016)

Studio albums with TLC[edit]


  1. ^ "TLC - Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic.
  2. ^ "Chilli"-Thomas "Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas Biography". AAE Speakers. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  3. ^ "Chilli". People Magazine. 6 May 1996. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  4. ^ Christopher John Farley (2008). "The Spicier Girls". Time magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
  5. ^ a b "Chilli's Truth". Back2Basics Magazine. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  6. ^ a b "Chilli From TLC Meets The Batchelors!". Amazing Facts. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  7. ^ "RIAA Top 100 Certified Artists".
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  9. ^ VH1 (2011). "VH1 Announces Plans To Produce A New TLC Movie". VH1. Archived from the original on 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  10. ^ "TLC returns with 'CrazySexyCool' movie and music". CNN. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  11. ^ "TLC cancel two dates after Chilli loses her voice". msn entertainment. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  12. ^ "Die Deutschen Trend Charts".
  13. ^ CHILLI'S NEW SINGLE HAS 'INK' ALL OVER IT: Written by Cri$tyle, 'Dumb, Dumb, Dumb' sparks controversy. Archived 2008-04-11 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Atkinson, Katie (January 13, 2016). "TLC's Chilli Debuts Solo Song 'Body' for New Dance Workout & Offers Kickstarter Album Update". Billboard.
  15. ^ a b "TLC's Chilli Is Faking It". JET. Retrieved 2019-09-03.
  16. ^ "More Sober House, Fit Club, Pepa And Chilli On The Way From VH1!". 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  17. ^ Date: 05/26/10. "Chilli Granted Second Season, Shot At Love". Retrieved 2012-03-30.
  18. ^ Brett Malec,"TLC's Chilli Strips for PETA's Anti-Circus Campaign: See the Wild and Sexy Pic,"EOnline, 25 November 2013.
  19. ^ "WWE Countdown". 1. June 10, 2014. WWE Network.
  20. ^ "Review: 'Marshall' delivers the heroic bio-pic treatment Thurgood Marshall deserves". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-09-03.
  21. ^ a b Reid, Shaheem. "Usher: King Me". MTV. Retrieved November 18, 2008.
  22. ^ Peterson, Todd (February 20, 2004). "TLC's Chilli Dishes on Ex-Beau Usher". People. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
  23. ^ Varner, Jeff (20 June 2015). "TLC Providing Time, Love and Care to the World". The Borgen Project. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  24. ^ Clark, Ashley (19 June 2013). "CHILLI'S CREW FOUNDATION HOSTS 2ND ANNUAL SUMMER CAMP SPONSORED BY BEACHBODY®". WordPress. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  25. ^ "About Us". Bags vy Chilli official website. Archived from the original on February 14, 2010.
  26. ^ Josephs, Brian (4 November 2013). "Chilli Takes Stand Against Cyberbullying After Son Is Targeted". The XXL Network. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  27. ^ "TLC's Chilli becomes the face of DAYO loungewear collection". The Atlanta Voice. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  28. ^ a b "TLC:'I will never forget the day we were millionaires for five minutes'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-09-10.

External links[edit]