Terry Ellis

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Terry Ellis
Birth nameTerry Lynn Ellis
Born (1963-09-05) September 5, 1963 (age 57)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Years active1989–present
Associated acts

Terry Lynn Ellis (born September 5, 1963)[1] is an American singer–songwriter and actress. Ellis is best known as a founding member of the R&B/pop vocal group En Vogue which formed in 1989.


Early life and education[edit]

Terry Ellis was born in Houston, Texas. She is the daughter of Lennie James Ellis and the late Evelyn Marie Patton.[1] Ellis graduated from Worthing High School in 1982. After high school, Ellis attended Prairie View A&M University where she later received a degree in Marketing in 1990. During her years at Prairie View A&M University, Ellis honed her vocal skills under the tutelage of Dr. Ruby Hebert and Professor George Edwards, Director of the Marching Storm Band, where she was lead vocalist. Additionally, through the auspices of the Office of Student Activities and guidance of its Director, Frederick V. Roberts, Terry participated in several talent showcases, performed on special programs including the Miss and Mr. Prairie View A&M University Pageants and also sang as an opening act for many major concerts on the campus.[citation needed]


In 1988, Ellis performed in a lecture/concert with singer Kashif which turned out to an onsight audition for a proposed singing group to be created by Kashif and friends.[2] Ellis later auditioned to sing in a upcoming female group.[3] Initially, producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy had already chosen singers Dawn Robinson, Maxine Jones, and Cindy Herron to be in a three-piece girl group, but added Ellis after hearing her sing. After joining Ellis to the lineup, the group became a quartet and originally chose the name "For You", later changed to En Vogue.[4] Ellis sang lead vocals on the intro of the group's first single "Hold On", which peaked at number 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart,[5] and sold over a million copies becoming platinum certified by the RIAA.[6] Later that year, the group released their debut album Born to Sing, which went platinum. Ellis also sang lead vocals on the singles "Lies" and "Don't Go", both of which charted in top-five positions on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[5]

En Vogue released their second studio album Funky Divas in 1992, which sold over 3.5 million copies in the U.S. Ellis shares lead vocals on one of the album's top-charting singles "Free Your Mind". "Free Your Mind" won two MTV Video Music Awards, for "Best R&B Video" and "Best Dance Video". En Vogue released an EP in fall 1993, entitled Runaway Love.[citation needed]

In November 1995, Ellis left En Vogue and release her debut solo album, Southern Gal. The album spawn the singles "Where Ever You Are" and "What Did I Do To You?". Within a year of its release the album had sold over 142,000 copies.[7] The album considered a commercial failure after sales failed to match the standard of En Vogue's success. She also released her own fragrance titled "Southern Exposure".[8]

In 1996, En Vogue recorded "Don't Let Go (Love)" with Ellis singing the last verse of an extended version of the song. On the album's version, Ellis only sings backup on "Don't Let Go (Love)". The song was featured on the soundtrack to the motion picture Set It Off. Released in fall, it became the group's biggest hit to date going number one worldwide. It also sold over 1.8 million copies worldwide and became certified platinum by the RIAA.[6] In response to the large commercial success of "Don't Let Go (Love)", the group steadfastly went to work on its third album. As the album was nearing completion, Robinson left the group in April 1997 after difficult contractual negotiations reached a stalemate. The ending result saw En Vogue re-recording their third album with Ellis singing lead vocals on more of the songs. In June 1997, the group released their third studio album EV3, which went platinum.[6]

In 1999, Ellis toured as a backup singer for Toni Braxton. She also appears one of Chanté Moore's friends in the music video "Chanté's Got a Man" in 1999. In 2000, she also released a song called "Call on Me" on the soundtrack for the HBO romantic drama Disappearing Acts. In 2005, Ellis was featured in the Stevie Wonder music video "So What The Fuss" with her original En Vogue members Dawn Robinson, Maxine Jones and Cindy Herron. Throughout the years, Ellis continued to record on the group's album: Masterpiece Theatre (2000), The Gift of Christmas (2002), and Soul Flower (2004).

In 2012, Ellis and fellow En Vogue member Cindy Herron sued now-defunct member Maxine Jones demanding $1 million for unauthorized use of the name, though the damages request was ultimately determined to be without merit, as Ellis and Herron could not demonstrate harm done to the company from Jones's use of the name (although Robinson was named in the lawsuit, she was not directly involved in the dispute, as she had surrendered her rights to use the name herself when she departed from the LLC years earlier).[9] However, the judge decided to award full rights of the "En Vogue" name to Herron and Ellis.

In July 2014, Ellis signed to Pyramid Records alongside En Vogue members Cindy Herron and Rhona Bennett.[10][11] In November 2014, they released An En Vogue Christmas. In February 2015, Rufftown Entertainment filed a lawsuit against En Vogue, which names Herron and Ellis for breach of contract. Rufftown owner Rene Moore is seeking $310 million from the group.[12]


Ellis is a mezzo-soprano and has a three-octave vocal range which was displayed in the En Vogue song, "Don't Go". By her bandmates, Terry was credited as the member with the "ballad" type of voice. With En Vogue, she often shared leads, or lead the group songs that were funky, and soulful. In group harmonies, Terry usually sings the alto arrangement, which is above Maxine Jones, but under Dawn Robinson, or Cindy Herron.

Personal life[edit]

Ellis is unmarried without any children. Ellis' cousin was Thomas Howard who played linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL.[citation needed] She is close friends with actress and model Holly Robinson Peete, whom she met on the set of the sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper while recording the show's theme song, and they both share a striking physical resemblance to one another.[13]


Studio albums


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Batman Forever Girl on Corner #2


  1. ^ a b "Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997 [database on-line]". The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  2. ^ "Terry Ellis". HBCU Connect. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  3. ^ "And Then There Were Three..." Newsweek. 1997-06-22. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  4. ^ AOL. "News, Sports, Weather, Entertainment, Local & Lifestyle - AOL".
  5. ^ a b "Artist Chart History - En Vogue". Billboard.
  6. ^ a b c "US Certifications > En Vogue". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  7. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (9 November 1996). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Archives - Philly.com".
  9. ^ TMZ Staff (1 April 2013). "Celebrity Justice: En Vogue Legal War Settled... Losers Stripped of Name". TMZ.com. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  10. ^ En Vogue | Pyramid Records. Pyramid Records. Retrieved on September 1, 2014.
  11. ^ En Vogue Vocal Outtakes for New Album "Electric Café". Youtube.com. Retrieved on December 25, 2014
  12. ^ En Vogue Sued for Millions After Label Flip. Billboard.com. Retrieved on February 17, 2015
  13. ^ "Terry Lynn Ellis: The Best "Bestie" Ever".