DAMOZEL

The name comes from the French "demoiselle," meaning "young lady." Makes sense, given that the four lavishly talented members of Damozel are true ladies through and through. They may be in their teens, but Lisa, Tasha, Tamisha, and Brandy have all the required poise and polish to pull off the year's most astonishing musical debut. With their MCA album, You Don't Know Me Like That, Damozel's youthful exuberance and sophisticated vocals prove the next generation of R&B singers has kept faith with a glorious past while taking the music to greater heights.

Together for four years (15-year-old Brandy and 18-year-old Tamisha also known as Tish joined within the last two years), Damozel knew there would be no second chance to make a first impression. So, for their debut album, they teamed with the best of music industry finest. Producer/songwriters like Amon Flanagan, Designated Hitters, Travon Potts, Willie Briggs, Touch Tone and Dave Hall worked with Damozel. All songs were written or co-written and produced by K-Ball (Lisa's sister).

"We're old souls," laughs 18-year-old Lisa, the founding member of Damozel, as she explains the group's striking maturity. Not that she or her fellow members have forgotten they're teens. "We concentrate on having fun," notes Tamisha. "We like to make fun of everything, and we never think about the long hours we put into this." Get four best girlfriends in a room and anything can happen, but when it's the members of Damozel, anything usually turns out to be the sweetest, most soulful harmonies around.

Moreover, Damozel and their producers have a genius for the bold touch, for the musical brush stroke that adds drama and sparkle to every song. The album kicks off with "Could I," a hard-hitting love song co-written by Tamisha and K-Ball that features a sitar accompaniment. "You Don't Know Me," co-written by K-Ball and Brian Ball, the album's premiere single, features guest rapper Rah Digga in a thrilling Amon Flanagan production. "Best Friend," written and produced by Travon Potts, typifies the sleek Damozel sound, while "Sunshine," produced by Designated Hitters and written by Lisa, Brandy, Tasha and K-Ball, is one of album's most upbeat songs, a fresh take on the classic "You Are My Sunshine."

Damozel gets gritty with "How We Roll," which, says 17-year-old Tasha, "is about what happens when a bunch of girlfriends get together, hang out and go teen clubbing." The group considers "No More" to be their "blues song" which was inspired by Mary J. Blige while "Disrespectful," with a brilliant banjo flourish and tip of the hat to Aretha Franklin, is a deeply felt ballad about the hurt that flirting can cause. "When a boyfriend looks at other girls," says Brandy, "that's disrespectful." Other songs like "She Don't Love You," "Trials & Tribulations" produced by Amon Flanagan written by K-Ball and Allen Bundy Jr. is a message song for people to wake up and take responsibility for their lives and the problems in the world. "The Things You Do" (co-written by Damozel and K-Ball) and "Give It To Me Straight" further expand the album's subtle theme, which is to give a glimpse into the life of a young woman. "We try to show what a girl goes through," says Tasha. "It's about having fun, going through heartache and pain, the joy of love. We tried to cover everything."

Covering everything may sound like a tall order, but not for this quartet. Lisa and Brandy are LA natives, while Tasha and Tamisha hail from Indianapolis and Denver respectively. Growing up, all four were entranced by a wide variety of great artists, from Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, SWV New Edition to James Brown.

Lisa's mother/manager Mary Ball formed the group, but K-Ball created "Damozel." Damozel received their first big break at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. K-Ball put the ladies through rigorous "boot camp" sessions while Mary put them through their own artist development regimen teaching the ladies the finer points and business side of being an artist. In time, the group developed so rapidly, they landed guest slots opening for such hit acts as Salt 'N Pepa and Tony! Toni! Tone! Word spread, and soon record companies came courting, with MCA getting the nod. "When we get on stage, we generate a whole new kind of energy," says Lisa. Tamisha adds "We pride ourselves on being a high-energy group. We don't want to just come out, singing and smiling. We want to provide a feeling of fun and total entertainment."

Lisa, Tasha and Tamisha have already graduated high school; Brandy isn't far behind. All four plan to go to college, balancing their careers with education. "We all want to major in business," notes Brandy, "but we also want to act, model, do commercials, movies, everything." Damozel goal is to own their production and record company. The ladies love the business of the business. With their irrepressible energy, it's most likely they'll get the chance.

Damozel surely means it. As they saying goes, "Ladies first."