Soul II Soul

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Soul II Soul
Soul II Soul Funki Dred logo
Soul II Soul Funki Dred logo
Background information
OriginLondon, England
Years active
  • 1988–1998
  • 2007–present
Past members

Soul II Soul are a British musical collective formed in London in 1988. They are best known for their 1989 UK chart-topper and US top five hit "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)", and "Keep On Movin'" which reached number five in the UK and number 11 in the US. They won two Grammy Awards, and have been nominated for five Brit Awards—twice for Best British Group.[5]


1988–1989: Beginnings and Club Classics[edit]

The group initially attracted attention as a sound system some years earlier run by founder Jazzie B, playing at nights including their own at the Africa Centre, London.[6][7]

By 1988, the official lineup was recognized as Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler, Nellie Hooper, Simon Law, Doreen Waddell, Rose Windross, Daddae, Aitch B, and Jazzie Q.[6] The group released their first single "Fairplay", with Rose Windross on lead vocals and which was recorded at the Africa Centre.[7] where the collective hosted a regular Sunday night residency. The song charted at number 63 on the UK Singles Chart, whilst their follow-up single "Feel Free", which featured Doreen on lead vocals charted at number 64.

The weekly club night having grown ever more popular, moved to the much larger The Fridge Nightclub in Brixton, South London, where it would remain well into the 1990s. The collective used the venue to test their musical composites on the dance floor. Together with an eclectic mix of “Funki Dredd" – 'A happy face, a thumpin' bass, for a lovin' race!' – themed club classics that combined British, Caribbean, African, and African American influences.[8] On one memorable night in 1988 the residency hosted a 'PA' (Personal Appearance) by the nascent N.W.A. who were briefly in the UK promoting Straight Outta Compton. No one who was there quite realized the enormity of what they were witnessing, but the knowledgeable crowd certainly rose to the occasion.

Arguably Soul II Soul at The Fridge did as much to cement club culture and lay the visual and musical template for the 90's legal rave scene, and EDM explosion of the new millennium as The Haçienda in Manchester, and the Second Summer of Love in the UK & Ibiza.

Jazzie B and several other members of the group became involved in the local pirate radio station movement. Jazzie B even hosted his own show on KISS-FM

In March 1989, the group released their breakthrough single "Keep on Movin'", featuring Caron Wheeler on lead vocals.[6] The song became a worldwide success and sold over one million copies in the United States of America. The following month, the group released their first album Club Classics Vol. One.[6] The album peaked at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and sold over four million copies worldwide. The group continued their success with the single "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)", the song charted at number 1 on the UK Singles chart. The single went on to win the group their first Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1990.

In late 1989, Waddell and Windross departed from the group. Marcia Lewis, a cousin of Jazzie B, joined the group. The single "Get a Life", which featured Lewis on lead vocals, charted at number 3 on the UK Singles chart. The song also sold over 60 thousand copies in the United Kingdom. Lewis' debut performance came on Top of the Pops when she performed alongside Caron Wheeler and Jazzie B.[9]

1990: Volume II A New Decade and lineup changes[edit]

In early 1990, Wheeler officially left the group to pursue her solo career. To fill out the group's dynamic, Jazzie B turned to a few singers he had performed with in the past. This led to the brief addition of Kym Mazelle, Lamya, and Victoria Wilson-James to the new lineup. With a new official lineup, the group released their second album Vol. II: 1990 – A New Decade, which peaked at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart.[6]

The album's second single "A Dream's a Dream", which features Victoria Wilson James on lead vocals, performed success on the chart. The album's third single "People", featuring Lewis on lead vocals, garnered moderate success on the charts but managed to achieve success on the Dance charts. The album's final single "Missing You", featuring Kym Mazelle on lead vocals, also performed well on the charts.[6] In the mid-1990s, the group toured throughout the United Kingdom. One of their concerts at Brixton Academy was recorded live and released in September 1990, titled A New Decade: Live from Brixton Academy. After the conclusion of the tour, Wilson-James, Mazelle, Lewis left the group to pursue solo careers.

1991–1993: Volume III Just Right and another lineup change[edit]

In 1991, Soul II Soul was in need of lead vocalists for the recording of their third album. During recording sessions, Jazzie B recruited guest singers Richie Stephens, Kofi, Penny Ford, Rick Clarke, along with the re-addition of Caron Wheeler to record on the album.

In April 1992, Soul II Soul released their third album Volume III Just Right. The album's lead single "Joy" performed by Stephens achieved major success on the charts. The follow-up single "Move Me No Mountain" performed by Kofi on lead vocals achieved moderate success but failed to make a huge impact in the album's sales figure. The third single "Just Right" also suffered the same fate.

The group managed to tour for a brief time throughout 1993. In November 1993, the group released their greatest hits album Volume IV The Classic Singles 88–93. The album spawned the single "Wish", which featured the new addition to the group Melissa Bell on lead vocals.

1994–1997: Volume V Believe, lineup changes, Time for Change[edit]

In 1994, Soul II Soul prepared to record their fourth album. Despite her career as an established solo artist, Caron Wheeler once again joined the group and committed to the recording of the group's upcoming album.[6] During the record sessions, Wheeler and Jazzie B struggled with creative difficulties for the production of the album. This ultimately led to Wheeler leaving the group again during the recording of the song "Love Enuff". Now without an official lead singer for the group, Jazzie B was left to recruit a few singers once more. Penny Ford, background vocalist on the group's single "Move Me No Mountain", officially became a member of the group.[6] Charlotte Kelly, a background vocalist from the group's previous tour, was also recruited to join the group. Melissa Bell and Lamya also contributed vocals to the forthcoming album.

In January 1995, Soul II Soul and Isaac Hayes also performed "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" live on Taratata, with Kelly on lead vocals. In June 1995, Soul II Soul released the single "Love Enuff". The single retained the use of Wheeler's pre-recorded background vocals and Penny Ford on lead vocals.[6] The song invited Soul II Soul to perform on Top of the Pops with Ford performing lead vocals. In August 1995, Soul II Soul released their fourth studio album Volume V Believe. The album's second single "I Care", which features Charlotte on lead vocals, charted at number 17 on the UK Singles Chart.

In August 1997, the group released their fifth studio album Time for Change.[10] The album featured the singles "Represent" and "Pleasure Dome".

1998–2006: Disbandment and aftermath[edit]

In 1998, the group officially disbanded with each member pursuing solo careers. Following their disbandment, several members including Wilson-James, Mazelle, Lamya, and Kelly would release solo albums which would each garner success, respectfully. Marcia Lewis and Kym Mazelle would also go on to become educators. In 1999, Kelly released her self-titled debut album, which spawned the number 1 Dance chart single "Skin". The group often reunited and performed for a few selected dates over the course of their hiatus.

In March 2002, Doreen Waddell, who had been living in Hove following her departure, died at 36 after being hit by three cars while she was fleeing from a shoplifting incident.[10] In July 2002, Lamya released her solo debut album Learning from Falling, which spawned the number 1 Dance chart single "Empires (Bring Me Men)".

2007–2012: Reunion[edit]

In 2007, Soul II Soul reformed at the Lovebox Festival in Victoria Park, London. The lineup consisted of Caron Wheeler, Jazzie B, Aitch B, with the new addition of MC Chickaboo. In December 2008, a radio programme about Soul II Soul was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In January 2009, Lamya died of a sudden heart attack.[11][12]

The Soul II Soul Sound System featuring Caron Wheeler toured Australia nationally in February 2009. They performed at the Playground Weekender Festival near Sydney. Soul II Soul performed live at the Yasalam free concerts in conjunction with the 2009 Formula 1TM Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix celebrations in October 2009.

In 2010, Soul II Soul reunited for their reunion tour with the lineup consisting of Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler, Rose Windross, Kym Mazelle, Charlotte Kelly, Aitch B, and MC Chickaboo. The group toured until the end of 2011. Following the tour, Kelly and Wheeler performed on-and-off as the featured vocalists for Soul II Soul. In 2012, Soul II Soul performed at the Lovebox Festival in which Kelly performed as the featured vocalist. In June 2012, Soul II Soul received the honorary PRS Heritage Plaque award. Jazzie B, Wheeler, Daddae, Mazelle, Kelly, Aitch B were among the members present. They also performed during the ceremony. In August 2012, Soul II Soul (Jazzie B, Jazzi Q, Aitch B, Caron Wheeler, and MC Chickaboo) performed at Channel 4's House Party.[13] In December 2012, Soul II Soul performed "Keep on Movin'" and "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" on Later... with Jools Holland with Caron Wheeler as the lead vocalist. They also confirmed to be working on a new album.

2013–present: Later years[edit]

In April 2013, Jazzie B and Charlotte Kelly launched the Soul II Soul 'Classics' Collection at Harvey Nichols in London, England. The Classics Collection features T-shirts and sweatshirts with Soul II Soul's Funky Dred logo. In the same year, Kelly departed from the group again and Wheeler rejoined the group. In 2014, Soul II Soul performed at the Lovebox Festival.

In 2016, Soul II Soul released a single titled "A New Day" credited to Caron Wheeler, which features production from Jazzie B and Louie Vega. Soul II Soul released their live album "Origins: The Roots Of Soul II Soul" on 9 December 2016.[14]

In May 2017, Soul II Soul performed at Electric Brixton with Caron Wheeler and Charlotte Kelly as the lead vocalists.

On 28 August 2017 Melissa Bell died after suffering from kidney failure.[15]

The group appeared on Jools' Annual Hootenanny on New Year's Eve in 2017.

Members timeline[edit]


Awards and nominations[edit]

American Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1990 "Keep on Movin'" Favorite Soul/R&B Single Nominated
Soul II Soul Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo/Group Nominated
Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist Nominated
Favorite Dance New Artist Nominated
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" Favorite Dance Single Nominated

BRIT Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1990 Club Classics Vol. One Best British Album Nominated
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" Best British Single Nominated
Soul II Soul Best British Newcomer Nominated
Best British Group Nominated
1991 Best British Group Nominated

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1990 Soul II Soul Best New Artist Nominated
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Won
"African Dance" Best R&B Instrumental Performance Won
1993 "Mood" Best R&B Instrumental Performance Nominated

Juno Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1991 "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" Best International Single of the Year Nominated

Soul Train Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1990 Keep on Movin' Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Album, Group, Band, or Duo Won
"Keep on Movin'" Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Song of the Year Won
Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Single, Group, Band, or Duo Won
Soul II Soul Best R&B/Urban Contemporary New Artist Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c George-Warren, Holly; Romanowski, Patricia, eds. (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (3rd ed.). Fireside. p. 915. ISBN 0-7432-9201-4.
  2. ^ "Caron Wheeler: Soul Survivor". Musician (171–176): 13. 1993. ...Caron Wheeler took the world by storm in the summer of '89 as the lead singer and visual centerpiece of the neo-soul band Soul II Soul.
  3. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Soul II Soul – Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  4. ^ Henderson, Alex. "British Soul". Archived from the original on 9 December 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.. AllMusic. Rovi.
  5. ^ Soul II Soul BRITS Profile Archived 13 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine. BRIT Awards Ltd. Retrieved 26 January 2013
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1114. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  7. ^ a b "Jazzie B Interview -". Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Soul II Soul |". Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  9. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 458. CN 5585.
  10. ^ a b "UK Charts > Soul II Soul". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  11. ^ Lamya Al-Mugheiry, Duran Duran Official Site news page
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 November 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Soul II Soul DJ Set @ Channel 4 House Party. Youtube. Retrieved on January 15, 2017
  14. ^ Soul II Soul – Origins – Deluxe Vinyl Box set. Metropolis Labels. Retrieved on October 13, 2016
  15. ^ "X Factor star's Soul II Soul singer mum dies". Retrieved 30 August 2017.

External links[edit]