Shamari DeVoe and Nivea are two of nine female singers cast in the new Carlos King-produced reality series, BET Presents: The Encore. The show chronicles women from different girl groups in the 90s and 2000s who join together to form their own supergroup. In 10 weeks, the ladies must record an album and prep for a performance while learning choreography…and each other.
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It’s not without drama. Some clash over vocals and dance steps. Others complain about different visions. DeVoe, a member of the trio Blaque founded by TLC rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, says though the mission seemed like a lot, she never thought it was impossible.
“I know that people can work,” DeVoe told Shadow and Act in a recent chat. “We had vocal training, we had choreography, we worked out together. So I felt like even if some of the vocals weren’t all the way up to par, we can get them there. The studio works wonders too.”
Out of all of the women, Nivea is the only one who’s had a full career as a solo artist. She got her big break as a teenager with her collaboration “Danger” with rapper Mystikal. From there, she had a string of hits and popular songs, including “Don’t Mess With My Man” and “Laundromat.”
While her debut album was a commercial success, her sophomore album Complicated didn’t have the same effect. She says it’s due to her label, Jive Records, not knowing how to market her. She took a long sabbatical to focus on raising her four children but reemerged in recent years.
Nivea admits that she was hesitant to do the show but felt like it was a good way to reinvent herself, even if that meant working alongside eight other women.
“I was very apprehensive. I was going back and forth about whether or not I was going to do the show or not,” she says. “But I thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s about music and women empowerment. So, I was all for that and I wanted to get back to music. This was a unique way and somewhat foreign way because I’ve never been in a girl group before. But, it was different and interesting and I was curious to see what I could learn from it and who I could inspire through it.”
Like Nivea, DeVoe just wanted to be a team player. “In my group, I sang lead so with this new situation, everybody wants to sing lead. I don’t care to sing lead because I don’t have that complex,” she notes. “For me, it was easy for me to say, ‘OK, what parts do you need me on?’…I don’t have issues being put in the back because I’m so used to being in the front. It don’t matter. Less work for me then!”
The preview shows that not all women may make it to the final performance, but Nivea refuses to give away any hints, encouraging viewers to continue tuning in.
Watch BET Presents: The Encore on BET every Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST. Check out the full interview below where DeVoe and Nivea talk about who they vibed with the most in the house, creative differences and more: