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Interview:
TLC at DTE, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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After 15 years away, TLC is giving us a little "Girl Talk" again.

While the 2002 death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes certainly halted the hitmaking group's forward progress, the surviving duo of Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas has kept the TLC flame burning with performances, the occasional single and a biopic on MTV. This year they returned to the recording world in earnest with the fifth and, they say, final album "TLC," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Independent Album chart.

Regardless of the future, the group does have plenty of laurels to rest on -- 65 million records sold worldwide, four Grammy Awards and the only female group ever to win a diamond album certification, signifying sales of 10 million copies for 1994's "CrazySexyCool."

No scrubs, indeed...

Though Lopes' death put TLC in a bit of a holding pattern for a number of years, Watkins, 47, says she and Thomas gradually overcame any conflicts about continuing the group. "I don't think Lisa would want us to stop," he notes. "She always said, 'TLC is forever.' We'll never replace here and she'll live through our music. Fans kept urging us to do an album, so why not do it? If people still accept you and want to hear from you, why not? We're clear it's not the same; You just have to find a new normal, and we have. I don't think it's our time to stop yet; When it is I'll gracefully bow out, but I don't think that time has come yet."

"TLC," however, will be the last album we get from the duo, according to Watkins. "It is the last album," she says. "I mean, it's bene 25 years. It doesn't mean it's the end of TLC. We have a catalog of music, which is a blessing. You can perform for years to come when you have timeless songs such as 'Waterfalls' and 'No Scrubs,' 'Unpretty,' so why not do that and capitalize off that? I'm not done writing; I have solo endeavors that I do and other artists I write for and TV and movies and commercials. But as far as a studio album with TLC, I'm done with that."

Watkins does, however hold out the possibility that she and Thomas might dig into the vaults for some sort of archival release. "I think it would be cool to release unreleased songs, like never heard before, that we've done with Lisa on them and stuff like that," Watkins says. "We have so many songs; I think it would be fun just for the fans to hear where we were going to go or where we were headed and changed our minds. I think that would be fun to do."

Watkins says by phone that TLC tried to give fans what they wanted with the TLC album. "If it's not broke, don't fix it," she explains. "Basically the recipe for us is strong lyrical content. We usually have great beats with relatable subject matter and a dance with every hook. If you put us together, it sounds like a TLC song no matter what you want to call it. With all the time, 15 years that lapsed in between (albums) we've had a lot of time to think about things and watch things and life happens, so you have more to talk about. It was perfect timing, I think."

Watkins does acknowledge that there's a bit of an odd dichotomy having a brand new album out and being part of a nostalgia package like this summer's I Love The 90's tour. "We had arguments about that," Watkins nots. "There were people that said, 'Oh, does that make you feel like you're gonna be dated' or whatever. We do represent the 90s, but we still are relevant in 2017 and people took to the (new) album, which is a blessing. I think the show, once you see it, it speaks for itself and it's very much today, but today everybody is representing the 90s right now, even the clothing and everything."

The Party Continues Tour with TLC, Biz Markie, C+C Music Factory and others

7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

Tickets are $37.50 -$87.50 pavilion, $27.50 lawn with an $85 lawn four-pack.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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