Dionne Yvette Farris (born December 4, 1969) is an American, singer,
songwriter, producer and actress. Born and raised in New Jersey, she
began singing in elementary school and competed in pageants as a
teenager. In the early 1990s, she performed as the vocalist on the hip
hop group Arrested Development (1992) hit single "Tennessee".
Farris rose to fame with the release of her debut album, Wild Seed -
Wild Flower (1994) on Columbia Records. The album featured the Top 40
single, "I Know" (1995). That same year, the video earned Farris the
Billboard Music Video Awards Best Pop/Rock New Artist Clip of the
Year. She was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal
1 Early life
2.1 Arrested Development
2.2 Wild Seed - Wild Flower
2.4 For Truth If Not Love
2.5 Independent releases
5 External links
Farris was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, United States, the
daughter of Larraine (Wall) and Richard Farris, both of who had
musical talents and aspirations, and named Dionne for their favorite
singer, Dionne Warwick. Farris was raised in Bordentown, New Jersey
by her single mother, whose side of the family introduced her to the
musical acts that shaped and influenced her as an artist. Farris was a
huge Diana Ross fan as a child — one of Farris’ fondest memories
was attending a Ross concert in Manhattan at the age of eight, being
lifted by her uncle onstage, and getting kissed by the superstar.
Farris began taking dance lessons at the age of three at Irene Parker
Dance Studio, Hamilton Township, New Jersey. She danced ballet, jazz,
tap, and toe for ten years, opting at thirteen to sing instead. Aside
from singing in church, Farris was first exposed to music performance
as a third-grader at Peter Muschal Elementary School (Bordentown, New
Jersey), when she was selected as one of two students to join a
regional children’s choir being created. In middle school, Farris
was part of the
New Jersey Singers’ Choir under the direction of
Gary Farquhar, where they performed classical works, (Carmina
Burana), Broadway (Cats (musical)), and choral music. Her first
solo performance outside of school was at the age of twelve, when she
sang an a cappella rendition of “Good Morning Heartache” by Billie
Holiday after watching the movie Lady Sings the Blues and getting
Holiday's records from the public library. She sang in her high
school’s choir and starred in the then controversial lead role of
the high school’s production of Annie, in her senior year. The drama
teacher stated that some in the community were not happy that Farris
had the role, because she was black.
After graduating from Bordentown Regional High in 1987, Farris
attended Mercer County Community College, where she studied
photography. Farris entered into the Miss Hemisphere Pageant
regional competitions, directly after high school and won her first
and only pageant as 1987's Miss Hemisphere's Adult Talent, singing
Saving All My Love for You
Saving All My Love for You in Miami, Florida. But it
was music that really drew Farris, and she joined a band in
Plainfield, New Jersey, known as 2.0 and later as Breaking Ground.
They began performing on the Manhattan’s club circuit, and looked to
sign a record deal. Farris decided to move to Atlanta with her then
boyfriend Donald "Rasa Don" Jones (one of the earlier members of
Arrested Development), where her father lived, to try to establish
herself in the then-nascent African American cultural renaissance that
was building in that Southern city. After a short while Farris hooked
up with then-wunderkind Atlanta producer
Jermaine Dupri and began
writing songs for Atlanta-based acts such as TLC and singing
backgrounds for acts such as Xscape, and El Debarge. She signed a
management contract with Michael Mauldin's (father of Dupri) company
as a solo artist, but would later become a member of a girl group they
were producing, known as Onyx (a name later co-opted by a semi-gangsta
Farris and Arrested Development were signed to the same management
company. The group wanted a female singer for their 3 Years, 5
Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... album and Farris, although she
was not interested in being in the group, agreed to sing with them and
became an unofficial "extended family" member. Farris sang on 3 songs
with the group, "Fishin' 4 Religion", "Give a Man a Fish" and
"Tennessee". Farris performed the song with Arrested Development on
the 1992 MTV Movie Awards,
The Arsenio Hall Show and went on the
group's first national tour. After the success of “Tennessee”, she
began to receive media attention, and Chrysalis, (Arrested
Development’s then label), A&R Duff Marlo offered Farris a solo
deal, contingent upon Speech producing the project, but she rejected
the offer in search of a deal where she would have artistic control.
Farris began experiencing personal and business conflicts with the
group’s leader, despite the success of “Tennessee,” the band’s
first and biggest hit in 1992, Farris was never an official member of
the band, and she left the group altogether in Atlanta in September,
1992, before a show, at the Fox Theater, after having a fight with
Speech and co-leader Headliner.
Wild Seed - Wild Flower
Farris reached out to
Milton Davis and David Harris and began a
collaboration. A demo sent to
Sony Music was first reviewed by Bobby
Colomby, then by the A&R,
Randy Jackson (who subsequently became
known as a judge on American Idol). Jackson signed Farris to a deal at
Columbia Records. Her debut album, Wild Seed – Wild Flower
(1994), featured the 1995 hit single "I Know", which reached number
four on the
Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for the Grammy Award
for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1996. In the UK Singles
Chart, "I Know" peaked (after a re-release) at #41 in May 1995.
Wild Seed – Wild Flower
Wild Seed – Wild Flower reached #57 on the
Billboard 200 chart.
Radio & Records magazine ranked "I Know" as the number-one most
played song on mainstream Top 40/CHR radio stations for 1995 and spent
10 consecutive weeks at #1 on the Mainstream
Top 40 chart (April
1-June 3, 1995).
On April 8, 1995, she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live,
performing "I Know" and a roots acoustic rendition of the Beatles song
That same year (1995), her version of Billy Taylor's "I Wish I Knew
How It Would Feel To Be Free" appeared on the soundtrack to the
documentary The Promised Land. It would appear again as the opening
song to the (1996)
Rob Reiner film Ghosts of Mississippi, about the
true story of the 1994 trial of Byron De La Beckwith, the white
supremacist accused of the 1963 assassination of civil rights activist
of Medgar Evers. Farris' soundtrack work continued for another 1996
film, The Truth About Cats & Dogs, to which she contributed a
version of the
Stevie Wonder classic "For Once in My Life" as the
closing song and the (1996) film
First Wives Club
First Wives Club with a rendition of
Bill Withers' "Heartbreak Road". In 1997, she had another single
called "Hopeless" (written by Van Hunt) from the Love Jones
For Truth If Not Love
Farris recorded a second album For Truth If Not Love with Columbia,
but she and the label would part ways before the project was released.
It would later be released in 2007, issued on iTunes. It featured the
track "Stuck in the Middle".
Farris released her official follow-up album Signs of Life in (2011),
named Top 10 soul albums of 2011, a mixtape Lady Dy, the
1 (2011) and a live jazz album Dionne Get Your Gunn: Featuring the
Russell Gunn Quartet with
Dionne Farris (2012) via
funding on her own record label, Free & Clear Records.
Wild Seed – Wild Flower
Wild Seed – Wild Flower (1995), Columbia
For Truth If Not Love (2007), Music World
Signs of Life, (2011), Free & Clear Records
Dionne Get Your Gunn (2013), Free & Clear Records
Lady Dy, The
Mixtape pt. 1 (2011), Free & Clear Records
"I Know" (1994), Sony
"Don't Ever Touch Me Again" (1995), Sony
"Passion" (1996), Sony
"Food for Thought" (1996), Sony [promo]
"For Once in My Life" (1996), The Truth About Cats & Dogs (movie
"Hopeless" (1997), Sony
The Promised Land (1994), Columbia
The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996), A&M
First Wives Club
First Wives Club (1996), Work Group
Ghosts of Mississippi
Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), Sony
Love Jones (1997), Sony
^ "The Hottest New Female Singers". Jet Magazine. Johnson Publishing
Company. 29 May 1995. p. 61. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
^ Wikane, Christian John. "Have Fun: A Tribute to Diana Ross, Nile
Rodgers, and the CHIC Groove of 'diana' (Parts 1-4)". PopMatters.
PopMatters. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
^ a b c d e Carter, Kevin L. "What New in Princeton & Central New
Jersey?". US 1 newspaper. prinstoninfocom. Retrieved 8 September
^ Garcia, Bobbito. "
Dionne Farris States The Facts". Vibe Magazine.
Vibe Magazine. p. 40. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
^ "Speech Interview". Songfacts. Retrieved April 3, 2008.
^ a b c "Biography by Steve Huey". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 4 January
^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.).
London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 195.
^ Hargro, Carlton (December 11, 2011). "Top 10 Soul Albums of 2011".
Cribnotes Powered by the Tabernacle. Creative Loafing Atlanta.
Retrieved 13 September 2013.
Dionne Farris Official website
3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of...
ISNI: 0000 0000 5518 8224
BNF: cb13972883s (data)