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Old School Friday: Singers Turned Actors, Actors Turned Singers

5 December 2008 13 Comments

When it comes to black entertainers, there are so many double and triple threats that its no suprise when actors release albums or vice versa. As I’ve discussed before, the black sitcom has talent showcasing left and right, and more black c-listers than I can count have had moderate success in television and/or film but enjoy fruitful careers on Broadway. Having popular success in television/film as well as music is the true challenge.

That said, I’ve been waiting a long time to post these here videos so I’m loving this week’s theme. Tisha Campbell already has Fresh Black Girl status with me, but do you remember her 1992 single “Push”? As the child of voice coaches, conventional wisdom would have one believe that Tisha Campbell would be a singer first and actor second, but things didn’t work out that way in spite of the fact that she showcased her singing talent in almost every role (including singing “Push” on Martin). In my opinion, she waited to long to release her first single – pop stars can’t hit the scene at the ripe old age of 24. I really hope the hat that she’s wearing in this video never comes back into style.

Jasmine Guy has become somewhat of a tragic figure for me. I loved her as Whitley in A Different World, a role that occasionally spotlighted her dancing talent but usually had her singing like a buffoon for the sake of comedy. Jasmine Guy can sing, but her 1990 album Jasmine Guy kind of stunk – was she Jody Watley, Karyn White, or what? She wasn’t at all believable as a singer or in music videos. I feel sorry for ol’ girl these days. She is looking rather decrepit from head to toe and is on the verge of earning herself a spot in the Good Hair Gone Bad hall of fame. Remember, it’s good black that don’t crack. See if you remember 1990’s “Another Like My Lover.”

All Hail The Queen! I treated myself to a home pedicure and Living Single marathon last Saturday afternoon and realized that I really do love me some Queen Latifah. She’s a New Jack triple threat as someone who can sing, act, and rap; no other female has led the hip-hop generation’s domination of mainstream entertainment like Dana Owens. She kills it on 1991’s “Latifah’s Had It Up 2 Here.” Her blazer/shoulder pad game was a force to be reckoned with!

Bonus: You know I had to do it. Poor Eddie Murphy. He set the low end of the bar for actors turned singers with 1985’s “Party All The Time.” Twenty-three years later and with Rick James gone, this song is so bad that it’s good.

Check Out Other Old School Friday Participants! 1. MrsGrapevine 2. Marvalus 3. Regina 4. Marcus Langford 5. Quick 6. Chocl8t 7. Cassandra 8. Kreative Talk 9. Lisa C 10. Invisible Woman 11. Vivrant Thing 12. Shawn Williams 13. Electronic Village 14. Hagar’s Daughter 15. Danielle Vyas 16. DP 17. Dee 18. FreshandFab 19. LaShonda 20. AJ 21. Sharon 22. Believer1964 23. Shae-Shae 24. Danielle 25. sjp 26. msladydeborah 27. Thembi


  • Reginald Dorsey said:

    I remember one time in The Pit they had Jasmine Guy’s song “Try Me” playing in the background. I always wanted to know if those young black extras were really talking about anything, or were thye nearly silently just mouthing syllables?

  • Thembi said:

    Reginald, I remember that! And they were definitely mouthing “peas and carrots” and the like back there. I actually started a project to track down a few of those extras and you would definitely recognize them – there was one sort, funny lookin, almond-skinned dude who was an extra like 20 times…

  • Reginald Dorsey said:

    The dude that kept popping up when Dwayne was trying to get with Colonel Taylor’s daughter? I think it was the episode where she kicked Dwayne to the curb. He almost has a Hugh masakela, South African look (not to be confused with the African student that, during the very special Orange Glow scholarship episode, testified to the group about apartheid South Africa, after which Ron Johnson et. al. played a stiring tambour.)

  • Thembi said:

    Ok I know who you mean, his name was like Kobie: http://images.google.com/images?sourceid=gmail&q=Abner%20Mariri&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi
    But Im referring to a more almondy, pretty funny lookin dude. One day I'll figure it out, don't worry. He's as infamous as an extra as the lady with the jheri curl on showtime at the apollo.

  • Marvalus said:

    Love the Queen…I actually thought that Tisha was going to make it as a singer; she has quite the voice…

  • Kim said:

    it’s great that you guys had a whole different world episode convo in the midst of this….its like i found a kindred spirit, lol. Great choices..even though I doubt I’d ever really listen to Jasmine Guy outside of the show. The music video was slightly painful About two years ago there was a rumor she was going to do another album. I kinda hope it stayed as a rumor. Did Dawnn Lewis ever try to drop an album…or does she stick to tv?

    But yea, I also thought Tisha Campbell could make it …and well Dana Owens showed us she could do it all.

  • ShAĆ© - ShAĆ© said:

    I like that you covered Latifah and Jasmine Guy. You know I used to really like that song. LOL

    I'm surprised Jasmine & Tisha didn't make it as singers but I think the image of their characters were too strong. People probably couldn't disassociate them from their roles.

  • Invisible Woman said:

    one of my best friends was an extra on a different world for many episodes. it’s weird how they had the same folks over and over, being wholly part of a scene, but they never said anything.

    why does jamine’s video choreography look like a broadway musical? (it’s also quite zesty btw)

  • bklyn6 said:

    I LOVED Jasmine’s “Try Me.” I really liked Debbie Allen’s single “Special Look” too!

    Honorable mention to actress turned singer Cindy Herron. En Vogue had hits!

  • Vivrant Thang said:

    Who knew that more than one person would think of Tisha Campbell? Random minds truly think alike.

    Queen Latifah is the ultimate pick. Triple threat indeed.

  • pjazzypar said:

    Great pick! I would never have thought of Tisha. What about Tichina Arnold. She and Tisha were singers in the film “Little Shop of Horrors” along with Levi Stubbs. Tisha co-stars on Lifetime in this show entitled “Rita Rocks” where she is a member of a garage band.

  • Regina said:

    I was never a fan of Tisha’s. She was popular for the theme.
    Love the Queen pick!


    party all the time was my jam

    wow –jasmine guy this song is bad

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