Color Me Badd

  • R&B vocal group formed in 1985 from Oklahoma City Oklahoma. The original members of the group were lead singer Bryan Adams, tenor Mark Calderon, tenor Sam Watters and baritone Kevin Thornton. All members contributed to song writing.
  • Watters and Calderon were friends in grade school, while Adams and Thornton met in junior high school. They all attended the same high school and sang in the school choir together. In their mid-teens, they decided to form a vocal group in 1985. Initially they called themselves Take One, but they soon changed their name to avoid confusion with an a cappella group named Take 6. Watters chose the name after hearing about a horse at a racetrack named Color Me Bad. They first performed at a school talent show singing doo-wop styled songs.
  • Wanting to pursue singing professionally, they decided to contact any acts that were touring in Oklahoma City and ask for an audition. In 1987, they met Robert Bell from Kool & the Gang, who agreed to listen to them. Following their performance, Bell directed them to his road manager, and the road manager became the group’s manager. In 1989 they saw Jon Bon Jovi in a movie theater, and they sang a cappella for him as Bon Jovi left the theater. Bon Jovi invited Color Me Badd to open for him at his show the following night.
  • In 1989, they moved to New York City hoping to find a recording deal. They managed to get into the ASCAP Music Awards show in 1990, and they approached producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and sang for them. The producers suggested that they write a half-English, half-Spanish song, since the four singers were multi-cultural. They returned to Oklahoma and wrote the song I Adore Mi Amor. They recorded a demo of the song, and they were signed to a recording contract in August 1990.
  • The record company was providing songs for the soundtrack to the film New Jack City, and Color Me Badd was asked to cut a song for the soundtrack. They were given the song I Want to Sex You Up, which they recorded and released in March 1991. It became the best selling single from the soundtrack, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 chart and topping the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Given the success of the song, the record company pressed the group to record their debut album. They quickly wrote songs to include on the album, and in July 1991 they released C.M.B. The album included I Want to Sex You Up, as well as the singles I Adore Mi Amor and All 4 Love. Both I Adore Mi Amor and All 4 Love reached #1 on the Hot 100, and suddenly Color Me Badd and their new jack swing sound was one of the hottest groups of the day. Two more singles from the album reached the top 20 of the Hot 100 chart – Thinkin’ Back and Slow Motion. The C.M.B. album ultimately was certified 3x platinum and it sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
  • The success of their debut album led to Grammy nominations, a tour supporting Paula Abdul, and a cameo appearance on the television show Beverly Hills 90210. But the music industry was changing, with grunge music and west coast hip hop becoming prevalent. Color Me Badd attempted to shift their style for their second album, recording Time and Chance with more of a soul-funk sound. It was released in November 1993, and it had a couple of minor hits – the title track reached #23 on the Hot 100 chart and #9 on the R&B chart, and Choose peaked at #23 on the Hot 100 chart. The album only spent 17 weeks on the album chart, peaking at #56.
  • Color Me Badd attempted to regain momentum, releasing their Now & Forever album in 1996 and utilizing several accomplished producers for the various tracks on the album. One single from the album managed to chart – The Earth, The Sun, The Rain reached #21 on the Hot 100. They switched record labels and they released Awakening in 1998. The album failed to chart and the band fell apart. Thornton left to become a minister. Watters became a producer, working with artists including Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson, Celine Dion and 98 Degrees. Abrams released a solo album and collaborated with Insane Clown Posse on a song. Calderon collaborated with several artists.
  • In July 2010, Abrams and Calderon reunited as Color Me Badd, headlining a concert in Hawaii. Later that year, Thornton rejoined the group. During the 10s decade, various line-ups performed occasional concerts and small tours, including an incident in 2018 where Abrams was arrested for attacking Calderon at the end of a concert. Color Me Badd continues to tour today, with Calderon the only original member left. A new song, California Dreamin’, was released in May 2022.
  • Color Me Badd enjoyed a brief run at the top of the resurgence of doo-wop R&B harmony vocal groups in the early 90s. Most came and went as quickly as Color Me Badd did – only Boyz II Men managed to stay successful for more than a few years. Here’s the video to their first #1 hit, I Adore Mi Amore.

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