TLC wouldn’t be complete without Rozanda ‘Chilli’ Thomas, but there was once a time when she almost wasn’t in the equation.
In an exclusive interview with People, the soulful songstress, 52, candidly remembers the group’s formation while discussing Lifetime’s upcoming documentary on the generation-defining group, “TLC Forever”.
“I’m the momma of the group,” Chilli recounts of the Grammy-winning girl group, which also featured Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
However, Chilli didn’t always hold a prominent position in the group, and surprisingly to some, she was almost kicked out of the group.
“I was dancing with LaFace Records’ very first group, Damian Dame,” remembers the star of her time hustling in the early ’90s.
As TLC, which initially referenced the three original bandmates, sought a replacement for Crystal Jones, fate stepped in when Chilli (a nickname given by Lopes) walked into the audition room. After performing En Vogue’s “Hold On” in 1991, Chilli left a lasting impression on Tionne Watkins, who dryly remarked”: “Oh, she’s pretty.”
In the early days, Tionne and Lisa took the spotlight, but Chilli’s talent didn’t go unnoticed. LaFace producer Dallas Austin soon became captivated by her. However, their relationship caused turmoil when TLC’s manager, Pebbles, discovered the pair were dating. Chilli recounts, “They were holding auditions to replace me but never saw anybody that they liked. I don’t think anybody cared about the Dallas thing but Pebbles.”
However, that didn’t strike the group down. With their boundary-breaking style, provocative lyrics, and a unique blend of rap, pop, and R&B, TLC defined a generation and transformed countless fans into super devoted fans.
Mark your calendars for June 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime as “TLC Forever” takes center stage.