At one point in time, girl groups ran the world (or the culture so to speak).
From Total to En Vogue to Xscape, and everyone in between, the ladies dominated the charts, and despite the fact there are very few that exist today, it is worth taking a trip down memory lane to highlight some of those who left a mark on history.
While girl groups dominated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it is important to note that their existence started way before that.
The Shirelles set the tone in 1961 when they became the first Black girl group to have a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart through their smash single “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.”
According to Lifetime, the group consisted of four teen girls: Shirley Owens, Beverly Lee, Addie “Micki” Harris, and Doris Coley. These ladies weren’t the only product from the ’60s to dominate the charts and lay the blueprint for those who came after them. The Supremes, originally known as the Primettes, auditioned for the legendary Motown Records imprint in 1961, and it wasn’t long before members Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Barbara Martin (who replaced original Betty McGlown) signed to the Detroit label. The rest is what they call history.
Since then, the culture has seen girl groups come and go. However, the mark that they left on the world deserves all the recognition. Let’s dive into some of the most successful Black girl groups of all time.
After initially being a part of a group called 2nd Nature alongside Crystal Jones, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkin and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes ultimately connected with Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, becoming the legendary group known to the world as TLC.
During their rise to fame in the early 1990s and well into the 2000s, the trio quickly dominated the charts with hits such as “Red Light Special,” “No Scrubs,” “Creep” and “Waterfalls.” They are known today as the best-selling American female group and the second best-selling female group in the world, directly behind the Spice Girls, BET reports.
After tragedy struck in 2002, resulting in the untimely death of Left Eye, the remaining members, Chilli and T-Boz, ultimately decided to continue as a duo, releasing their latest album in 2017.
To date, TLC has sold more than 65 million records for their five studio albums with their second studio album “CrazySexyCool” (1994) gaining diamond certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the only album by a girl group to have done so.
Ranked as one of the most successful bands of all time by Billboard, The Supremes rose to prominence in the 1960s and quickly became one of the best-selling groups of their generation.
Timeless tracks such as “Baby Love,” “Stop! In The Name of Love,” “Come See About Me,” and more have solidified their place as cultural classics and certified The Supremes as Motown royalty. Another contributor to the group’s success is the fact that they’ve sold more than 100 million records.
Initially introduced to the world as Girl’s Tyme in 1990, this girl band originally consisted of four members — Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé, LeToya Luckett, and LaTavia Roberson. After signing to Columbia in 1997 as Destiny’s Child, the ladies quickly rose to success.
Rearrangements with group members included Luckett and Roberson exiting to be replaced by Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams. Franklin was later ousted, and the group ultimately decided to be a trio of Rowland, Beyoncé, and Williams. They went on to become one of the most successful girl groups of all time and have sold more than 60 million copies of their five studio albums to prove it.
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The Pointer Sisters
Formed in 1969, the girl group started out as a duo act with sisters June and Bonnie Pointer performing as The Pointers – A Pair. With their sister Anita as a new member, the trio became The Pointer Sisters and signed with Atlantic Records. It wasn’t until sister Ruth joined in 1972 that the group found its groove and won their first Grammy Award for “Fairytale.” When Bonnie ultimately separated from the group to pursue a solo career, the trio created their best known hits in the 1980s with “Slow Hand,” “Automatic,” “I’m So Excited,” and more. The Pointer Sisters has been listed as a Top 10 best-selling girl group of all time.
Known for touching various genres including soul, pop, country, and more, these ladies went on to sell a reported 40 million copies of the 16 studio albums that they have released over the years.
Sisters With Voices (SWV)
This trio first hit the scene in 1988 as a gospel group before pivoting to R&B soul and becoming one of the heavy contenders of the time. Members include Cheryl “Coko” Gamble, Tamara “Taj” Johnson, and Leanne “LeLee” Lyons with the group rising to prominence during the 1990s thanks to hits like “Weak,” “You’re The One,” and “Right Here,” which famously samples Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” — a track that he cleared for the group for free, as previously reported by AfroTech.
Today, RIAA reports that they have sold more than 11.5 million copies of their five studio albums.