Zhané

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Zhané
Neufville (left) & Norris (right)
Background information
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
GenresR&B[1]
Years active1993–1999
Labels
Past members
  • Renee Neufville
  • Jean Norris-Baylor

Zhané (/ʒɑːˈn/ zhah-NAY) was an American R&B[1] duo, best known for their 1993 hit "Hey Mr. D.J.", which reached No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.[2] Other popular hits include "Groove Thang" (U.S. No. 17) and minor hit "Sending My Love", both released in 1994. The group was part of Queen Latifah's Flavor Unit collective.

Biography[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Renée Neufville and Jean Norris initially met in the early 1990s, while both were attending Philadelphia's Temple University; they would sing together at talent shows and other events. In her youth, Norris' father, Dennis, was a pastor at the Second Baptist Church in Moorestown, New Jersey, and Norris herself was a member of the choir. Although they were not yet a group, Neufville and Norris collaborated on each other's songs. In 1991, the pair met DJ Jazzy Jeff and did their first professional recording together, "Ring My Bell", which was on the same album that featured DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's popular hit "Summertime". Former Warner Bros. executive Benny Medina suggested they become a group. For the name, Neufville had the idea of using the French pronunciation of their first names Jean and Renée, which sounded like "Jahnay". According to Norris "We added a 'Z' for a little flavor and we came up with Zhané."[3] The twist they gave their name is similar to naming patterns that have been used all around the world, especially in Black communities.

Breakthrough & Pronounced Jah-Nay[edit]

Given a high-profile spot on the all-star compilation Roll Wit Tha Flava[4] as their first recording opportunity, Zhané came away with one of the hip-hop party anthems of all time, "Hey, Mr. D.J." After meeting Naughty by Nature member Kay Gee, Zhané (then credited as Jhané) impressed the producer enough to go right into the studio to record for Roll Wit tha Flava. When "Hey, Mr. D.J." was released as a separate single as well, it hit number six on the pop charts and earned the group a contract with Motown in 1994. Their debut album, Pronounced Jah-Nay, produced two further Top 40 hits ("Groove Thang," "Sending My Love") and went gold by the end of the year; it achieved platinum status two years later. Zhané kept busy during 1995–1996 with spots on tracks by Busta Rhymes and De La Soul as well as new songs of their own on the NFL Jams and NBA 50th Anniversary compilations and the soundtracks to Higher Learning and A Low Down Dirty Shame — the latter, "Shame," became their fourth Top 40 hit.

Saturday Night[edit]

Norris and Neufville released the follow-up album Saturday Night in 1997, co-produced by Kay Gee, Eddie F., and themselves. The release featured the hit single "Request Line." A remix with different lyrics and raps by Queen Latifah followed. It peaked just outside the Top 40.

Group dissolution and solo projects[edit]

Since the group's dissolution, Jean Norris married musician Marcus Baylor,[5] perhaps best known as the drummer in jazz fusion ensemble, the Yellowjackets from 2000 to 2010. Jean Baylor released the solo album Testimony: My Life in 2007 and a contemporary Christmas album entitled Light Up the World in November 2011. She later formed an R&B/jazz duo with her husband named The Baylor Project and they released their debut album The Baylor Project (The Journey) in February 2017. In November 2017, the duo received two 60th Grammy Awards-nominations under Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance.[6]

Neufville hosted an early live internet series called 88 Soul where guests included well-known R&B/Neo-Soul artists such as Jill Scott, Carl Thomas, Kelis, and Joe. She later contributed to albums and videos by the likes of India.Arie, Will Downing, Heather Headley, Leela James and Aaliyah amongst others. She became involved in Roy Hargrove's RH Factor project and figured prominently on the 2006 release Distractions playing keyboards and contributing lead vocals.[7]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
US
[8]
US
R&B

[9]
AUS
[10]
CAN
[11]
FRA
[12]
UK
[13]
1994 Pronounced Jah-Nay
  • Released: February 15, 1994
  • Label: Motown
  • Formats: CD, cassette
37 8 50 44 89
1997 Saturday Night
  • Released: April 22, 1997
  • Label: Motown
  • Formats: CD, cassette
41 8 90 26 52
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Album
US Hot 100
[15]
US
R&B

[16]
US
Dance

[17]
AUS
[10]
AUT
[18]
CAN
[11]
FRA
[12]
GER
[19]
NZ
[20]
SWI
[21]
UK
[13]
1993 "Hey Mr. D.J." 6 3 2 9 27 2 32 29 20 42 26 Pronounced Jah-Nay
1994 "Groove Thang" 17 2 13 17 3 42 99 7 34
"Sending My Love" 40 5 126
"Vibe" 119 33 142 67
"Shame" 28 12 46 133 79 50 66 A Low Down Dirty Shame Soundtrack
1994 "You're Sorry Now" 38 Pronounced Jah-Nay
1997 "Request Line" 39 9 12 22 Saturday Night
"Saturday Night" [A] 69
"Crush" 106 24 44
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.
Note

A Did not chart on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (Billboard rules at the time prevented album cuts from charting). Chart peak listed represents the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

Featured singles[edit]

Year Title Artist Peak chart positions Album
US
[15]
US
R&B

[16]
AUS
[10]
NZ
[20]
UK
[13]
1995 "Freedom (Theme from Panther)" Various Artists 45 18 Panther OST
1996 "It's a Party" Busta Rhymes 52 27 34 23 The Coming
1997 "4 More" De La Soul 52 Stakes Is High
1999 "Jamboree" Naughty by Nature 10 4 74 22 51 Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature's Fury
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bush, John. "Zhané > Biography & History > AllMusic". AllMusic. Mellow, groove-oriented '90s R&B duo who scored a Top Ten pop hit in 1993 with "Hey Mr. DJ."
  2. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Chart History: Hey Mr. DJ". Song-database.com. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
  3. ^ "Soul Flashback: Zhané's Jean Baylor Talks About Life as a Solo Artist". Soultrain.com. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Roll Wit Tha Flava - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  5. ^ "The Baylor Project". The Baylor Project. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  6. ^ Johnson, Kevin C. "The Baylor Project with St. Louis' Marcus Baylor earns 2 Grammy nods". Stltoday.com.
  7. ^ "Renee Neufville | Verve Music Group". Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  8. ^ "Zhané Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-06-21.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Zhané Chart History > Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-06-21.[dead link]
  10. ^ a b c Australian (ARIA) chart peaks:
  11. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Zhané". RPM. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
  12. ^ a b "lescharts.com > Zhané dans les Charts Français" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  13. ^ a b c "Official Charts > Zhané". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  14. ^ "US Certifications > Zhané". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
  15. ^ a b Billboard Hot 100 peaks:
  16. ^ a b Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs peaks:
  17. ^ "Zhané Chart History > Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-06-21.[dead link]
  18. ^ "austriancharts.at > Zhané in der Österreichischen Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  19. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts > Suchen nach "Zhané"" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  20. ^ a b "charts.nz > Zhané in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  21. ^ "hitparade.ch > Zhané in der Schweizer Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  22. ^ "Gold & Platinum: Zhane". Recording Industry Association of America.
  23. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 309.

External links[edit]