EN VOGUE : Off to a Fast Start and Making a Supreme Effort

"Sure I remember the Supremes--but I was kind of young then," says En Vogue's Cindy Herron, 27, who was a toddler when the classic Motown girl-group was in its prime in the '60s.

No one has really replaced the Supremes, though Sister Sledge and the Emotions tried in the '70s, and the Pointer Sisters had a short, hit-filled run in the '80s.

En Vogue, however, is off to a fast start--and some industry insiders are predicting the group will be the Supremes of the '90s.

The Bay Area's quartet's debut album, 1990's "Born to Sing," sold 1.7 million copies, and the new "Funky Divas" is in the national Top 15, thanks partially to the success of the "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" single.

In some ways, Herron, Dawn Robinson, Terry Ellis and Maxine Jones are a funky reincarnation of the Supremes. They combine beauty, glamour, sophistication, sassiness and scintillating harmonies in a way no female group has since the heyday of Diana Ross and company. Herron, though, insists the Supremes weren't the model for this group, which was organized through auditions four years ago by producers Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy.

"There may be some Supremes-like stuff in our overall concept, but it was hipper groups like the Emotions and Sister Sledge that we've borrowed from," she says. "The Supremes may have started a certain kind of soul girl-group thing, but what they did is old-fashioned now."

What En Vogue has done, with the help of Foster and McElroy, is modernize that girl-group concept, pumping it up with rap rhythms and a hip-hop sensibility while tossing in some offbeat touches dating back to those '40s divas the Andrews Sisters. But something bothers Herron about what En Vogue is doing--or hasn't done: "It's not original. We take from here and from there. What we do has been done before. I don't like that part of it."

En Vogue, she predicts, is about to blaze some trails. "I don't know what it is yet--or if we'll ever do anything really different or great. I'd love it if we were more than just another Supremes. That gets old fast."

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