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Dionne Farris

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Biography

Dionne Farris came to the attention of the music world with her vocal contributions to Arrested Development's breakthrough hit single "Tennessee," plus other tracks on the group's 1992 debut. Farris started singing in high school, performing in her school's choir in Bordentown, New Jersey and starring in a production of Annie. From there, she sang on Manhattan's club circuit, both solo and with a female vocal group called Onyx, but grew frustrated in her late teens. She moved to Atlanta to live with her father in 1990 and started dating drummer Rasha Don, an early member of Arrested Development. The group was looking for a female singer, and while joining a band didn't fit Farris' plans, she had nothing better to do. Farris was never really an official member of Arrested Development, characterizing herself more as part of its extended family. After "Tennessee" broke, Farris got enough media attention to cause personal conflicts with bandleader Speech, and she split from the group in 1993. Chrysalis, Arrested Development's record company, was willing to offer her a solo deal, but Farris took a gamble and rejected it, hoping for more artistic control than Chrysalis wanted to give her. She contacted David Harris and Milton Davis, former members of funk-rock band Follow for Now, and she and guitarist Harris began to collaborate on material. Her demo made its way to Columbia, and her solo debut, Wild Seed -- Wild Flower, was released in the summer of 1994, spawning the hit single "I Know." Two years later, Farris' recording of the Van Hunt song "Hopeless" also broke through after it was included on the soundtrack to the film Love Jones. Buoyed by the reception, demand was high for a full-length follow-up. However, creative differences between Farris and Columbia led to her sophomore album going unreleased. A protracted contract dispute followed and Farris was eventually released from her contract. Rather than actively seek out a new label, Farris instead left the music industry altogether and focused on raising her daughter, whom she home-schooled. Although she had left the industry, Farris never completely gave up performing and eventually regained her inspiration while singing in church. In 2007, she finally released her long-delayed sophomore album, For Truth if Not Love, featuring the single "Stuck in the Middle." She also founded her own independent record label, Free & Clear, and in 2011, she digitally released her third full-length album, Signs of Life. Two years later, Farris joined jazz trumpeter Russell Gunn for Dionne Get Your Gunn: Featuring the Russell Gunn Quartet with Dionne Farris. She then collaborated with guitarist Charlie Hunter on the 2014 duo album DionneDionne. An homage to legendary R&B singer Dionne Warwick, the album featured stripped-down versions of such classic Warwick numbers as "Always Something There to Remind Me" and "Walk on By." ~ Steve Huey

Top Songs

Born:

1969 in Bordentown, NJ

Genre
Years Active:

'90s, '00s, '10s

Contemporaries