In their heyday in the early 1990s, the then-quartet pushed out hits such as “Hold On,” “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and “Free Your Mind.”
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Today a trio, En Vogue, which consists of original members Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron, along with Rhonda Bennett, will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races’ H Lounge.
The original group was assembled in 1989, with the idea of a trio with Herron, Maxine Jones and Dawn Robinson.
But after hearing Ellis perform, they expanded the group to become a quartet.
It was a mutual friend of Ellis and Herron who told both of them about the auditions.
Ellis said a flight delay caused her to be late for the auditions.
“But once I got there and they heard the blend between the four of us, they said, ‘Well, hey, who says it can’t be a four-girl group?’ because there hadn’t really been one before,” Ellis said during a telephone interview from Valencia, Calif.
Music for Ellis had started when she was just 12. Her sister heard her singing along with cartoons.
“My sister said, ‘Do that again. Oh, my god, you can sing,’” Ellis said.
Her sister immediately put her in rehearsals. Those early rehearsals paid off as Ellis made her way singing in her hometown of Houston, Texas, which eventually led her to the En Vogue audition.
Ellis said she wasn’t sure when she realized En Vogue was going to do more than just cut a record.
“We knew how we felt. We knew we loved the music,” she said. “We knew we loved working together. Of course, you just never know about those kinds of things how it will go. We were just doing what we loved to do and just focusing on doing music that we loved. And, thank God, the public loved it.”
The public, it seemed, especially loved En Vogue’s first single, “Hold On,” which was released for radio play in 1990.
Ellis said she can still remember the first time she heard the group on the radio.
She was home in her apartment and was asleep on the sofa, when the phone rang at about 7 a.m.
“And it was Dawn. I answered the phone and she was just screaming and hollering, ‘Our song’s playing on the radio,’” Ellis said with a laugh. “And I started screaming and hollering, ‘You’re kidding. No way!’ It was so crazy. It just took off like lightning. It just took off.”
And take off it did. “Hold On” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Year-End chart in 1990 as an R&B hit. It reached No. 5 in the U.K. That year the group won a Billboard Music Award for R&B Single of the Year. In 1991, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
That same year the group won a Soul Train Music Award for Best Single by Duo/Group.