No matter what the neighborhood, the cultural relevance of the eighties could not be denied. Whether it was B-Boys and B-Girls pop-locking and break-dancing on cardboard dance floors in the Boogie Down Bronx, or teens preoccupied with mastering the puzzling Rubik’s Cube, adopting Cabbage Patch Kids or simply morphing into mo-hawked punk rockers, the ‘80s were a decade of awakening and innovation. It was also the era that birthed Cheri Dennis, Bad Boy’s princess of hip-hop soul.
Blessed with a vocal inheritance from her singer-dad, a six-year-old Dennis demonstrated harmonic promise at an early age, singing in her church choir. However, the Cleveland, Ohio native’s training didn’t end in the pews delivering Sunday morning hymns. Her bedroom became her recording sanctuary as she belted her favorite tune “The Greatest Love of All” into a hairbrush and every mall mirror became her stage as she rehearsed acceptance speeches for future accolades. “For as long as I can remember it was always about music and being in front of that mirror,” she recalls. “Plus, I was an only child so I always [had to] entertain myself.”
What some might have deemed standard childhood fantasies, the sultry songbird recognized as necessary groundwork for her musical future. Her trial run in the industry would come sooner than expected. During an outing with her dad to a recording studio for her twelfth birthday, the budding chanteuse met Spoiled, a local female group. Shortly after bonding with the ladies, Dennis joined the group and together they performed on BET’s now-defunct talk show, Teen Summit. Although the group released a video LP, a full album was never released and Dennis continued honing her craft and pursuing her dream of a singing career once the group disbanded.