In 1995, Hicks signed a deal with Motown Records and released an album titled This Time. The single "Ooh, Ooh Baby", written by and featuring Missy Elliott, charted on the BillboardR&B singles chart. However, the lead single intended to debut her singing career was "Distant Lover", an uptempo track produced by Teddy Riley. The album did not take off until the second single, "Silly", a remake of the classic R&B hit by Deniece Williams, was released. Featuring a black-and-white video directed by Hype Williams, the single charted well on the R&B chart. After collaborating on the video for "Silly", Hype Williams cast Hicks as in his directorial film debut (and in her largest role to date), 1998's Belly, as Keisha, DMX's girlfriend. The video for "Silly" appeared in one of the film's scenes. Hicks has expressed interest in pursuing a career in gospel music.
Hicks graduated in 1993 from Grace Dodge Vocational High School in Bronx, New York. She is the younger sister of actress and singer D'atra Hicks. Hicks is currently married to Loren Dawson, with whom she had two sons, and lives in North Jersey, where she is working as a teacher.
^Beckerman, Jim. Her older sister, D'Atra Hicks, has appeared in several Tyler Perry productions. "WHERE STARS ARE BORN", The Record (Bergen County), August 19, 2000. Accessed July 3, 2007. "When Shanell Jones graduated from Teaneck High School in June, she already had a deal with Def Jam, a major recording label. But as former Motown Records artist Taral Hicks (Grace Dodge, Class of 1993) and Alligator recording artist Shemekia Copeland (Teaneck, Class of 1997) could tell her, that's no big deal in this neck of the woods."