All Saints

All Saints Biography

WHEN they're performing together, one can't help but be drawn to the four beauties that make up All Saints—Melanie "Mel" Blatt, Shaznay "Shaz" Lewis, and sisters Nathalie "Nat" and Nicole "Nic" Appleton. They're certainly easy on the eyes, and given the ongoing Spice Girls phenomenon, attention (and comparisons) were inevitable. The songbirds, all in their early 20s, are well on their way to inspiring the same sort of fervor as their well-seasoned peers, without relying on the schtick that has vaulted the Spice Girls into near-caricatures. The four members of All Saints remain nouns, not adjectives.

The group first formed as a duo in 1993, with Mel and Shaz recording at a studio on All Saints Road, in the Ladbroke Grove area of London, eventually releasing the ill-fated single "If You Wanna Party" on ZTT Records. The song flopped, and the pair were dropped from the label. Mel told England's Dotmusic: "We didn't know what direction we wanted to go in, and ZTT didn't really know what to do with us, so it was a pretty short-lived thing." Fate obviously had something else in store.

Fast-forward two years to 1995, when Mel was reacquainted with the Appleton sisters (the three had attended the Sylvia Young stage school in London together years earlier), after her dad reportedly bumped into Nat and Nic in the street. Upon discovering they were involved in similar pursuits, the two duos decided to join harmonic forces, with Mel and Shaz still sharing writing duties. The foursome took its name from the road on which they rehearsed, and promptly recorded a demo. The results of the teaming were apparently impressive enough to impel London Records' chairman Tracy Bennett to sign them to his label in 1996.

All Saints made a splashy debut on Britain's popular National Lottery show and haven't looked back since. The quartet's funky, soulful, catchy dance pop, featuring smooth harmonies interwoven with impressive rapping from Shaznay, struck a chord with listeners. Their self-titled debut album spawned four Top-10 hits in Britain, including a No. 4 showing for their first single "I Know Where It's At" (a song that recycles the phrase "if you wanna party," to much greater effect). The next single, "Never Ever," fared even better, topping the U.K. charts, as did the ensuing "Under the Bridge"/"Lady Marmalade" (both songs are covers: the former by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the latter Patti LaBelle's group LaBelle).

In February 1998, All Saints picked up two Brit Awards for Best Single and Best Video for "Never Ever." Though they have yet to make that kind of dent in America, they're definitely on their way. The foursome landed a coveted slot performing on Saturday Night Live in April, and rumor has it the girls have been contacted by the producers of South Park to appear as guests. The only thing that would slow them down (at least for the time being) would be the impending change in Mel, who is pregnant with Jamiroquai bass player Stuart Zender's baby. Though there were rumors that she might choose motherhood over the band, she's assured her fans that she plans to continue in All Saints after the birth.

Despite the inevitable comparisons to England's other Girls (especially now that the former quintet is now a quartet), thus far there haven't been any major brawls; in fact, there's hardly been any mudslinging at all. When asked about their supposed rivals, Mel, the quotable one, told Dotmusic: "We are real music fans. The Spice Girls are cool, and it's amazing how they've burst out into this massive phenomena, but the day they call themselves artists, I'll kill myself. We're much better looking, and we've got more upstairs." Well, minor mudslinging, maybe.

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