Genre : Pop / R&B
About This Act :
In the beginning
Color Me Badd originally formed in the mid-1980s while its members were attending Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Founding members Bryan Abrams and Mark Calderon were singing in various talent shows, and were often each other's biggest competition. After a while, the two teens decided to form a group along with their respective best friends, Kevin Thornton and (former member) Sam Watters.
The group named themselves Take One, and started learning the harmonies from various songs, including the doo-wop jingle from a Levi's 501 Blues commercial airing at the time. The young men performed the jingle at a talent showcase and became something of a phenomenon at the school. They initially practiced their singing in the hallways, but when the crowds became too large and students were skipping classes to listen longer, Take One were forced to practice in the men's room - which didn't stop female classmates from coming by to listen. The group became so well known, they even earned a special mention in the school's 1987 yearbook.
This one time, at a movie theater...
When the four young men were barely out of high school, a chance encounter with a popular musician gave them a boost. As Kevin Thornton was working tearing tickets at a local movie theater, in walked Jon Bon Jovi. At first, Kevin thought the man was simply a look-alike, until he noticed a Bon Jovi logo on someone's jacket (and the fact that other Bon Jovi members were also there). Kevin played sick to get off of work, then called Watters, Abrams and Calderon to come to the theatre for a possible chance to perform for Jon.
So, after sitting through "two long, boring movies," they had Bryan introduce Take One to Jon, and ask for a few minutes of his time to hear them sing. The guys performed an a cappella arrangement of the classic "Daddy's Home" right there in the lobby. Jon listened, thought it over, then answered, "You guys think you're pretty bad, don't you? Let's see how bad you are in front of 15,000 people!"
With that statement, Take One secured a place on stage in front of 15,000 Bon Jovi and Skid Row fans at OKC's Myriad Convention Center. They were well-received by the audience, until they mentioned their high school... apparently the crowd was full of students from a rival school, and they were heckled for mentioning Northwest Classen.
Keepin' it Kool
Soon after the Bon Jovi encounter, the young men met Robert "Kool" Bell of Kool & the Gang, who took a listen and then took action. Bell hooked them up with part of his management team, including Myles Sanders and Linda Phillip. The guys moved cross-country to New York City in September 1989 and lived with Sanders for a year and a half (in a one-bedroom apartment) while they tried to land a record deal.
It was shortly before the move to NYC that Take One's name was changed to Color Me Badd, to avoid confusion with the a capella Gospel group Take 6. "Color Me Bad" was the name of a racehorse in Oklahoma City, which former member Sam Watters noticed in a local newspaper. Watters felt the name would represent overcoming labels: racial, musical, etc. "until all that's left is the vibe of the music." It fit the group perfectly.
New Jacks on the block
Color Me Badd signed with Giant records on August 11, 1990, and as a result, their first single was included on the soundtrack to the Warner Bros. film, New Jack City the following year. That song, "I Wanna Sex You Up," became the anthem of the summer of 1991, and Color Me Badd's all-time most recognized song (both a blessing and a curse). Due to the overwhelming success of the single, Color Me Badd were given a mere three weeks to complete their debut album, "C.M.B," which was released July 23, 1991.
The "C.M.B" album produced several hits for the talented quartet, including an alternate version of "I Wanna Sex You Up" (used in the music video), "All 4 Love" and "I Adore Mi Amor" (both #1 in the U.S.), "Thinkin Back," "Slow Motion," and "Heartbreaker" (a big hit in Europe, spawning their rarest music video).
Beverly... Hills, that is
In 1992, Color Me Badd kept busy with songs on two soundtracks, "Forever Love" for the film Mo' Money, and "Got 2 Have U" for the popular television show Beverly Hills, 90210, on which they also guest-starred. The guys were featured on the April 23, 1992 episode titled "Things to Do on a Rainy Day," the storyline of which centered around Donna, Kelly, Brenda, and David sneaking into the Bel Age Hotel to meet Color Me Badd, which was Donna's favorite group. The guys played themselves (or versions thereof) throughout the episode, and serenated Donna with "I Adore Mi Amor" at the end.
In November of 1992, the album "Young, Gifted and Badd: The Remixes" was released. The album featured remixed (and some re-performed) versions of tracks from the debut album, as well as the aforementioned single "Forever Love" (original version).
Taking their time, and a chance
On November 16, 1993 (Bryan's 24th birthday), Color Me Badd's long-awaited (official) second album was released (though it was technically the third). It was very well-received by the group's fans (many of whom list it as their favorite CMB album), and yielded two hit singles in the U.S.: the title track "Time and Chance," and the fan favorite "Choose." In other markets, such as parts of Asia and Europe, a third single, the Diane Warren-penned love song "Let's Start With Forever" also made a splash.
Now and Forever
Color Me Badd made a comeback of sorts with the song "The Earth, the Sun, the Rain," which earned modest airplay in the United States, but is arguably their most beloved song by fans in Asian and Pacific Island countries such as Singapore and the Philippines.
The Now and Forever album also featured the single "Sexual Capacity," which appeared in the Demi Moore/Burt Reynolds film Striptease; the music video featured footage from the film throughout, and was quite a popular selection by viewers of the Jukebox Network ("The Box") by-request music video channel.
In the summer of 1998, Color Me Badd's final (as of now) single, "Remember When" was released to radio stations and store shelves. The song was remixed in several incarnations: an "Urban" mix featuring a female rapper and a sample of Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time," a "Club" mix with a dance-friendly beat, and most importantly, the "OKC" mix which was a tribute to the victims of the Murrah Federal Building bombing that occurred in Oklahoma City in April of 1995.
The album "Awakening," on which the single appeared, was released on the Epic label in July of 1998.
The end of an era
In the fall of 1998, Color Me Badd were on the verge of signing a management deal with Johnny Wright (probably best known for his work with *NSYNC), when Kevin Thornton felt called away. He felt that being in the group was no longer the right fit for him and the ministry was where he needed to be.
At the same time, Sam Watters was starting to feel drawn to the behind the scenes world of songwriting and producing music, rather than being in the spotlight performing. It has been said he was never comfortable with crowds - not that he didn't appreciate the fans, but he is simply a more private person by nature.
It was at this time that the original Color Me Badd quartet parted ways. Virtually every media outlet mentions 2000 as the year of the split, due to the "Best Of..." album being released that year, but it happened in November of 1998.
In the meantime...
The members of Color Me Badd each took time to focus on raising their respective families and enjoying "real" life. Bryan Abrams released a solo album, "Welcome to Me" independently in 2001 (currently out-of-print, but occasionally available on eBay), and took a spin on reality TV for VH1's "Mission: Manband." He also released an EP on iTunes of re-recorded Color Me Badd hits (it's listed under Color Me Badd).
Sam Watters, as previously mentioned, got into songwriting and producing with veteran Louis Biancaniello, and the two have become quite successful. They have started a record label known as Fresh Laundry, based out of Florida.
Kevin Thornton served in the ministry quietly for a number of years before releasing an album of Christian/Spiritual music entitled "Conversion" in 2008, which is available on iTunes.
Mark Calderon also ventured into producing and writing (most notably for teen pop act Stevie Brock, who covered CMB's"All 4 Love," and performed originals Mark had a hand in creating); Mark also released an inspirational/worship song called "He'll Be There."
A brand-new start
In July of 2010, Color Me Badd re-emerged as a duo comprised of founding members Bryan Abrams and Mark Calderon. The guys headlined a concert in Hawaii (also starring All-4-One and Shai), and were well-received by the audience and the local media.
In early 2011, Color Me Badd came back in a more "official" way, this time as a trio comprised of Bryan, Mark, and Kevin "KT" Thornton! Big things are on the way! Details will be revealed on this site as they emerge.
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