Allure


Akissa
Alia
Hem-Lee
Lalisha

"With this album we're out to show our vocal ability-both individually and collectively. Our maturity will speak for itself… but our goal, collectively, is to really put people face-to-face with our talents." -Akissa

It is indeed a new day for Allure. Having spent the last year co-writing, co-producing, and helping arrange most of their sophomore effort-the appropriately-titled masterpiece, SUNNY DAYS-the four life-long friends are poised to brighten the airwaves with an array of sexy, up-tempo grooves and enlighten their listeners with poignant, compelling jams. "Because of our first album, so many people are under the impression that we only sing ballads," says Lalisha. "Back then, we did a lot of begging."

Don't expect too many cuts on SUNNY DAYS to have you all cried out like their 1997 hit ballad, which featured the multi-platinum-selling male quartet, 112. SUNNY DAYS' lead single, "Enjoy Yourself," alone sets the tone for the world to be captivated by a rejuvenated, coming-of-age Allure. With a groove-induced bass line that bounces with a potent amount of soul, "Enjoy Yourself" possesses all the attributes of a summertime smash, resonating with an undercurrent of freedom and with an overflow of sensuality. As the track's infectious handclaps accompany the sultry, rhythmic chants, "don't fight… be free/ en-joy your-self with me," all four females combine their angelic voices and virtually create seamless layers of musical magic.

With SUNNY DAYS, Allure projects their big picture in an effortless fashion. Generating undertones of confidence, strength and liberty on tracks like "Bump," "Kool Wit Me," and the title track, the ladies pledge allegiance to happy times and sunny days, while songs, such as "Wore Out Your Welcome" and the hidden track, "Game Over," show them defying emotional defeat. For good reason, no less; "We've learned to take matters into our own hands," says Hem-Lee. "Going into this project, we weren't expecting to have so much creative input in this many songs… but the more we got involved, the more we took control and poured our hearts into this project. And naturally, as our talents progressed, so did our confidence."

Also on the album is a handful of heartfelt ballads, including the melodically somber "Live Without You," the dramatic-and-epic "The Shore," and the Denise Rich-written love song, "Never Let You Go," among others-all of which capture the unit's different shades of vulnerability and emotional versatility. Says Alia, "By now, we're familiar with every type of emotion… overall [on this album], we have a positive vibe and an uplifting attitude to share, but those feelings don't fully emerge unless you've endured the tough times."

The four members of Allure began honing their skills back in high school, singing in each other's churches on weekends. Alia, Lalisha and Akissa all attended New York's famed LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, while Hem-Lee attended the equally prestigious Julia Richmond High School. Inspired by prominent musical acts, such as Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Patti LaBelle, Boyz II Men, and Jodeci, the girls began practicing songs in their spare time with dreams of stardom. Still modest about their potential, they decided to enter a talent show; by the end of the night they were announced the winners. "When we won," recalls Lalisha, "we knew we were on to something. We sang an original song written by one of our friends, and we beat out quite a few acts that we, ourselves, were very impressed with." When the girls walked away from that talent show, it was a sure sign that the best was yet to come.

Through mutual acquaintances, the still-unsigned-and-unnamed quartet was brought to the attention of producer Poke of the Trackmasters production team. Soon after they auditioned for him, Poke gave the group its name and signed Allure to Trackmasters in 1996; he eventually secured them a record deal with Crave Records, which was the label headed by R&B/Pop superstar Mariah Carey. Needless to say, expectations for Allure were set high.

With two certified singles, ("Head Over Heels" went gold and "All Cried Out" achieved platinum status), the group attained moderate success with the release of their 1997 eponymous debut. "We learned a great deal from that experience," reflects Hem-Lee. "The timing was a bit off. And plus, it was almost like we were thrown into the fire without enough mental and professional preparation." Adds Akissa, "Back then, we weren't very involved in the making of our music- we were more just a part of the end results. It's hard to be truly into your work if you're not a true part of the evolution process." After a rather unsuccessful attempt to get off the ground, Allure was forced to call it a day.

It should surprise no one that the members of Allure have stuck together and never let go of their collective aspirations. Whether through good times or bad, they've supported each other and helped one another pull through. They've gone from being the first act signed to Mariah Carey's Crave Records, to being the next group looking for a record deal, to now-being on the brink of a break-out year and quite possibly possessing the best-kept secret in this year's R&B/ Soul releases. "We believe that whoever's never heard us sing before will see firsthand that we can really sing, and everyone who's familiar with us will be astonished at how much we've matured," assures Lalisha. Judging from the overall aura of SUNNY DAYS, the sky is the limit for Allure.