Beginning Monday, August 20 at 10 PM ET, TV One introduces R&B Divas (formerly “Ladies of R&B”), a new reality series that tells the current, real-life story of five multi-talented, beautiful R&B stars – Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Monifah Carter, Syleena Johnson and Keke Wyatt. Having all seen the highs and lows of the music business, these ladies know what it’s like to command the spotlight… then see it dim. Now, armed with important life lessons, they’re stronger and wiser. However, this time, they’re coming together to make a difference.
Resilient and dynamic, these R&B Divas not only continue to build their own lives and careers, but also pay their good fortune forward, helping others along the way. The series offers a personal glimpse into their private worlds as they lean on each other and offer candid revelations about their efforts to deal with major life transitions and challenges such as divorce, parenting issues, drugs, alcohol, physical abuse and more.
These friends come together, at the instigation of Faith Evans, to produce a charity album inspired by her friend, Whitney Houston. In honor of the late singer, proceeds from the album will benefit the Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, an institution that Houston attended, located in her hometown of East Orange, NJ. At the same time, they are all juggling myriad personal challenges and responsibilities in addition to making music – including raising families. Faith prepares for a major move as she maintains her businesses and helps manage the estate of a music icon. Monifah reveals a bombshell that could drive a wedge between them. Keke is pregnant and the women are convinced that she can’t go anywhere without her husband/manager. Nicci is launching a new plus-sized clothing line called Curvato, while Syleena makes a career decision that will affect her entire family and put additional strain on her financially.
Through it all, these women have a genuine sisterhood. They love each other, argue with each other, and celebrate each other. One of the few constants in their lives is the strength of their friendship.
“TV One looks to bring viewers great storytelling that portrays authentic black life in America today,” said TV One Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Production Toni Judkins. “The ladies of R&B Divas are truly talented and amazing women individually and when you bring them together into one TV show, you have an incredibly compelling story. And, these ladies have known each other in the industry for quite a while. We aren’t creating relationships for the sake of a television show, so their actions, relationships and emotions are authentic and true to life – and it makes for a powerful narrative.”
The eight-episode, one-hour series is filmed primarily in Atlanta, with additional shooting in Washington, DC, New York and New Orleans. The series is produced for TV One by Thinkfactory Media, Executive Producers are Adam Reed, Adam Freeman, and Leslie Greif. Co-Executive Producers are Phil Thornton, Paul Coy Allen, Faith Evans and Nicci Gilbert. Executive in charge of production for TV One is Jubba Seyyid.
Faith Evans is the ultimate multi-hyphenate: multiple platinum selling and Grammy Award winning recording artist; New York Times best-selling author; television producer; mother of four; and entrepreneur. With a career spanning over a decade in the music industry, Evans’ most recent project, “Something About Faith,” debuted at no. 1 on Billboard’s Independent Albums Chart and earned a 2011 Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the single “Gone Already.” In addition, Evans’ impressive discography boasts three Platinum-certified albums – “Faith,” “Keep the Faith” and “Faithfully.” Evans is a six-time Grammy nominee and winner for “Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group” in 1998 for “I’ll Be Missing You,” where she paid homage to her late husband, Hip-Hop legend Notorious B.I.G.
Writer, Director and Producer Nicci Gilbert’s mantra is simple…Visualize, Pray, Produce, and judging from her passion for everything creative she will do just that. Gilbert is a fifteen year entertainment industry veteran. As the lead singer/songwriter for Brownstone, Nicci was nominated for a Grammy Award and has sold over 2 million records worldwide. Nicci, a Detroit native, has guest starred on hit TV shows such as “Martin,” “Living Single” and “Sister Sister.” She has appeared on the big screen as well, in films such as “Living Out Loud” with Queen Latifah and “Woo” starring Jada Pinkett Smith. While Starring in Tyler Perry’s hit play “Meet the Browns,” Nicci decided to pursue a career as a playwright and producer. Gilbert has since written, produced and directed several hit musical stage plays.
As an artist Monifah understands that through the gifts she has been blessed with, she has the platform to touch and change lives. An actor since her early childhood days, she pursued singing at the prestigious F.H. Laguardia High School of the Performing Arts in New York. She sang background vocals for Reggae superstar Maxi Priest before mutual associates re-acquainted her with rapper Heavy D. That gave birth to her first solo album, “Moods…Moments”, executive produced by Heavy D, Track Masters and Vincent Herbert. She had immediate success with the radio hit “I Miss You (Come Back Home),” which was featured on the hit TV show “New York Undercover” soundtrack and generated RIAA certified Platinum sales. Monifah followed up with Double Platinum CD “Mo’Hogany” featuring the hot track “Touch It,” which was also a crossover hit peaking at #1 for four consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. Monifah’s third album “Home,” released in 2000, was produced by Teddy Riley; the RIAA certified Gold disc delivered the hits “I Can Tell,” “Brown Eyes” and “Fairytales.” Monifah is currently writing, producing and recording her fourth CD as she continues performing live with her band “Soulution.”
Syleena Johnson says she lost her love for music “for a minute because it broke my heart at one point…but I am glad to say that we are back together and learning to love each other again.” The daughter of the nation’s first black female police commissioner and legendary soul and blues singer Syl Johnson, she was initially discouraged from getting into the music business by her father, who had many disappointing experiences in the industry. But after extensive vocal and music training at Drake University she took a recording contract with Jive Records, and the dissolution of a relationship with an abusive boyfriend provided raw material for her debut major label album, “Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness” in 2002. Her debut release yielded the hit “I Am Your Woman,” penned by R. Kelly. Syleena’s follow-up, “Chapter 2: The Voice” was hailed as one of the best R&B albums of the year. Meanwhile, Kanye West tapped Syleena to handle the vocals on the Top Ten worldwide hit “All Falls Down,” which also garnered her and West a Grammy nomination. With momentum building, Syleena released “Chapter 3: The Flesh,” which featured such guests as R. Kelly, Anthony Hamilton, Jermaine Dupri, Common and Twista – a mark of respect from her peers – as well as the hit “Another Relationship.” Subsequently Syleena has released “Chapter 4: Labor Pains” on her own Aneelys Records and “Chapter V: Underrated” in 2011.
Ketara Shavon Wyatt, better known as Keke Wyatt, the daughter of a Caucasian vocalist mother and an African American organist/vocalist father, started singing at age two. KeKe grew up in the church, where the family had the image of a happy Christian family; but behind closed doors there were problems stemming from abuse and also adversity experienced by the family’s multi-racial background. As a teen KeKe performed with various girl groups, even auditioning for the group that evolved into Destiny’s Child. Her critically acclaimed duets with Avant and her own platinum-selling solo debut album “Soul Sista” marked the arrival of one of R&B’s brightest stars. At the height of her career breakthrough, Keke’s private struggle with domestic violence became the main focus in the media, rather than her newly-released album. In 2001, Wyatt was arrested for stabbing her husband; the charges were later dropped, but her career suffered from the negative attention. In 2004, the songstress signed to Cash Money Records. Despite a successful single with “Put Your Hands On Me,” the album’s sales suffered when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans causing a national catastrophe. Keke signed with TVT Records in 2006 and recorded the “Ghetto Rose” album, but the label declared bankruptcy before the album could be released. Keke then licked her wounds and used the time off to write, act, and devote time to family. The release of her second album, “Who Knew?” by Shanachie in 2010 marked her return to the spotlight and she released her third CD, “Unbelievable!” in 2011. In addition to her active music and family life, KeKe serves as a spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Launched in January 2004, TV One (www.tvone.tv) serves more than 57.3 million households, offering a broad range of real-life and entertainment-focused original programming, classic series, movies, and music designed to entertain, inform and inspire a diverse audience of adult African American viewers. In December 2008, the company launched TV One High Def, which now serves 14 million households. TV One is owned by Radio One [NASDAQ: ROIA and ROIAK; www.radio-one.com], the largest radio company that primarily targets African American and urban listeners; and Comcast Corporation [NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK); www.comcast.com], one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services.