Now online my interview with Betty Dee...Part 1

ChuckD

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Well cf members......you waited for it, here it is!

My interveiw with Betty Dee, from Sweet Sensation!


Hello Betty. Thanks for taking the time to do this for your fans. I'd like to start this interview by letting the fans get to know you on a more personal level. What would you like to let the fans know about you?

I was born and raised in NYC . I grew up in the South Bronx. I am 100% boricua to the bone! lol. I am very close with my family. My favorite color is purple. I love anything electronic so I love my gadgets!!! I believe in living my life in a positive and inspiring manner. Life is too short!! I try to practice what I preach. Bringing joy to others is what fulfills me. And I like gardening LOL

Can you tell us how you got into the music business? Was this something you always aspired to? Were you, Margie, & Mari friends before forming Sweet Sensation, or was Sweet Sensation formed by your original record lable, Next Plateau? I had heard that Sweet Sensation was not the group's first name, is that true?

Well Margie and I were friends and she always thought that I could sing, we were introduced to Romeo J.D. who, at the time was part of a group called the Boogie Boys. They had a very successful rap song called "Fly Girl". Romeo, a very talented artist and writer wrote a song called "Hooked On You" and the demo song was recorded in his studio. Next Plateau heard the demo and we re-recorded the song with Ted Currier at the helm as the producer. Although I LOVED to sing I never wanted to be an artist it just sort of happened that way. Next thing you know Next Plateau is pressing the record and we did not have a group or a name so.......Our manager suggested we make a girl group and have Margie's sister Mari as the third girl. We needed to create a name so we came up with Sweet Temptation. A few days before the record was released we were told that we could not use the name Temptation so we changed it to Sensation. And the rest is history..........Romeo went on to pen most of our hits for the first album including Never Let You Go.

Sweet Sensation's first singles were big dance hits, but they also crossed over to the pop charts. You all were young at the time, and did you feel you were equiped for this success? At that time, the term "freestyle" was not being used, what did you feel was the name of your style of music?

Yes, we were very young at the time but I think that is why we adjusted so well. At first we didn't take it very seriously. We were traveling and having fun. Our song was on the radio!! When it first came out we had a name for it and it was called Latin Hip-Hop. There were no "Freestyle" Stations yet. Hooked On You was being played on WBLS and KISS fm in New York City. These were both Urban R&B stations. At one point it went up against Anita Baker's song "Sweet Love" could you imagine?!!We didn't need to be equipped to handle it as long as we believed in what we were doing. Once the music took off and we started meeting fans and seeing the success firsthand of this music, we had a whole new appreciation for it and all we wanted to do was work hard to make it last.

After the success of your first singles on Next Plateau, Sweet Sensation was signed by Atco/Atlantic records, and your debut album "Take It While It's Hot" was released, along with the group's 4th single, "Never Let You Go". Not long after that, Mari left Sweet Sensation. Was there a specific reason for her leaving the group, just as Sweet Sensation was about to really take off? She was replaced with Sheila. Was that a difficult transition, having a new woman in the group, and relearn the singing and dancing routines?

As a group we decided that it would be best if Mari pursued her other interests. At the time scheduling was very hectic and demands on us were very heavy. Sometimes it gets very hard to manage a personal , family life and be on tour. I am sure people have crazy ideas about how the group has broken up but Mari's departure was mutual and there were no hard feelings. Mari always continued to support us in every way. Bringing Sheila in was a new and exciting change for us. We had a commitment to our fans and we needed to keep it. Sheila stepped in and we did not miss a beat.
 

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Betty Dee interview....part 2

The group's 5th single, "Sincerely Yours" was released, and helped Sweet Sensation break into mainstream pop. However, I heard that it was not one of your favorite songs. Any reason why? A re-release of "Hooked On You" was next. Most of your prior songs had videos, but the budgets for "Sincerly Yours" and "Hooked On You" were bigger. What was the difference for those shoots, when compared to your first 3 videos?

How funny!!! I always loved this song as it was one of the songs that Romeo and I did together in the studio. Our producer Steve Peck, left us in the studio while we recorded the end of that song where we go back and forth singing the riffs to each other. It was such a magical moment that we both shared that day to have created that song. As for the video shoots! LOL the first Hooked video was done in a playground with our brothers as basketball players!! There is more at stake when you spend more money. Expectations become higher once you do those types of videos there is no turning back, the next video has to be bigger and better. The food on the set is better too with a bigger budget LOL!!

Sweet Sensastion released their second album, "Love Child". The title track is a remake of the Supremes song. Had you wanted to do a remake, and why was this song picked? At the release of the album, Sweet Sensation was asked to be one of the opening acts for New Kids On the Block. How did that come to be?

I have always loved the Supremes and saw Sweet Sensation as an updated Latina version of them. Love Child is one of my favorite songs and I thought it was such an amazing message. It was a very controversial issue to deal with in those times. One person at some point in their life has felt like an outsider for one reason or another. Whether it's race,height,weight or religious differences. In society we have always relied on the opinions of others to define ourselves. In that song a young woman recalls her life in poverty and how she was a bastard child, how some looked down on her for it. How could she have any self esteem if she is treated that way? This song affected me because people should not be judged for how they come into this world but the differences they make in it while they are here. Besides after I heard the new track for it with all the guitars I was like WOW!! we could have some really nice dance steps for this! LOL So to put it in perspective,the track was HOT!! As for NKOTB, we met them in Hawaii before they blew up. We had a couple of shows with them and we hit it off and became good friends. They said to us on the tour bus that if they ever make it big and go on a big tour that they wanted us to go with them, so the rest you all know!

Obviously, New Kids were huge at that time. What was it like, for you to go from playing clubs, to being in stadiums, hearing all those people cheering and yelling? What type of venue to you enjoy playing in? Do you prefer clubs, or a larger setting????

At first it was very scary because you could not hear your music!!! I never heard people scream so loud. I enjoyed all the venues whether they were big or small, as long as there were fans. I always believed in a show for three people as well as 30,000. With clubs it feels more initimate, the larger venues feels overwhelming in a good way so they both have their advantages

After "Love Child" the single "If Wishes Came True" was released, and gave Sweet Sensation a #1 song on the pop charts. The group's songs have been on the pop charts before ("Hooked On You"-#23, "Sincerly Yours"-#16, "Love Child"- #13) but to have a #1 song must have been a huge thrill for you all.

I never get tired of this story and I don't think I ever will LOL!! We were on tour that summer with our band and we were in Meadville, Pennsylvania when we heard the news. We cried for a whole week we could not believe it!! The memories of the overwhelming response of the audiences when we did that song still makes my heart skip a beat( Isn't that a Cover Girl's song? LOL)
 

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Betty Dee interview....part 3

In many groups over the years, there is always line up changes, along with rumors as to why this has happened. In 1991, Atco released "Time To Jam-The Remix Album" by Sweet Sensation. The cover was just a graphic, with no pictures of any members. It was pretty much assumed that Margie and Sheila had left Sweet Sensation. I happened to see a show not too long after this cd was released, and it was Betty Dee with two new women. Was it difficult for you to perform with new back up singers? Is there any specific reason for Shelia and Margie leaving the group? Are you still in touch/contact with Marige, Mari or Sheila?

By the end of 1990 the group was heading in a different direction. A new album had to be decided on. We had been on tour so long without stopping we needed to take a break.It sometimes takes it's toll. We still had contracts to do so many shows. But the commitment was no longer there. Margie and Sheila decided to not continue on and we had to find replacements very quickly. Although it might have been easier to call it quits, fans still wanted to hear our music so I continued on and made the best of it without them. Working with Belle and Jenae' was not hard at all as they worked their a****es OFF! We are very close and still remain so today. I love them dearly and I think that they are so talented and they became part of another chapter in Sweet Sensation history. As for Margie and Sheila, I have kept in touch with them and they are doing fine. We reminisce about the "old times" and laugh .Mari I hear is doing well with her family as well I am and always will be grateful for the memories we have shared together.

After a few shows, you seemed to drop away from the scene. There were rumors that you having health issues. Is there any truth to this rumor? Is this something that you care to discuss?

You have moments in your life where your well being and that of your family take precedence over everything else. I needed to take care of myself and be with my family. That way I could bring Betty Dee back to 110%

You are now back on the scene with the song "My Body Tu Cuerpo" which is billed as Dynamix presents Sweet Sensation featuring Betty Dee. Is "Sweet Sensation" back officially? Will the shows feature you singing Sweet Sensation songs, or will there be a "reformed" Sweet Sensation?

The shows will feature Betty Dee singing Sweet Sensation songs. So I guess that is where the featuring part comes in LOL

"My Body Tu Cuerpo" has a variety of mixes, including a "freestyle/house" mix. Freestyle is obviously not as popular as it was back when Sweet Sensation was performing. You had mentioned in the ClubFreestyle chat that any future songs you do, no matter what style, you would like to have a freestyle re-mix thrown on the singles. Is it difficult for you to make that arguement with produces, arranger, and mixers, since freestyle is not what it used to be?

Well I believe that just because the music doesn't sound exactly as it did in 1989 that it isn't freestyle. If you recorded an updated version of the disco classic "Don't Leave Me This Way" would we consider it a disco song today? Even if the genre no longer really exists?Or do we call it a remake of the disco classic?Freestyle is going to go through it's changes as music is always going to evolve and become something else. Music history has taught us that. I felt that Sweet Sensation's music incorporated other types of music as well as freestyle. So I would not see it as an issue to create different mixes. My idea of hardcore freestyle would be my favorite song in the world Lydia Lee Love's "Don't Take your Love Away" or music by Cynthia, Coro,and of course Judy Torres.
 

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Betty Dee interview........part 4

Now that you are offically back on the scene, what type of music would you like to perform? A lot of times, it seems that freestyle artists are trapped. If they continue freestyle, which doesn't get radio support, they are stagnant. If they try something new, the core fans are disappointed that it is not freestyle. Is this a concern for you?

I love anything that makes you wanna move! Like I said before, music will always evolve. I know that some artists feel the need to stay within the realm of their "style" it's okay to venture out and try new things. I used to fear that some fans would not accept Sweet Sensation if we became too pop. Our success with Love Child and Wishes taught us to take chances. But if you love the music that you do and believe in it and you can put your name out there, get lots of exposure and represent the latin community in the best way possible why not? We should not have to be forced into a corner if we can expand and grow ourselves yet still retain part of the sound we helped create.

You were told by someone to check out ClubFreestyle, because there were a number of posts/threads about you, and Sweet Sensation. Were you surprised at the amount of support and positive things that you found here? How did that make you feel, that after all of this time, you were still getting mad support? Does that make you feel positive for the future of your career in the music field?

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised but not because I did not have faith in the fans, because I always have!! The reason I pushed myself so much through those years is because of all of you. I felt very emotional when I started reading the posts. I realized how much I missed you. I do apologize for diving into retirement and keeping you out of the loop for so long. All I feel in my heart right now is gratitude for all this support. I cannot thank the fans enough for allowing me to have some time away and not forgetting about me. And the posts are hysterical!!I am still catching up!! LOL

Now that you are back, and want to record more music, who would you want to work with in regards to your music, producer/remixer wise?

I am still thinking about it. Dynamix has done an amazing job with the music we have now. I will definitely be working with them for some time. Eddie Cumana and the Dynamix crew are so talented! I just love their ideas.

Who do you listen to? What CD's are in your player right now? Do you still listen to freestyle? There are a lot of "new school" artists still making the music. Have you had the opportunity to listen to what they have to offer? Do you feel that freestyle can make a comeback, and get into the mainstream again?

Growing up, I listened to so many different genres of music that I still do so to this day. My father helped me appreciate the songs from "el campo" and I cannot live without my aguinaldos for christmas time LOL. I think it's a good idea to listen to all types of music, R&B has so much out right now, new blood like Kelis and Ciara, I love Usher, Mario John Legend. I love all the new pop that's out Still LOVE Destiny's Child. I can't get enough of Jazz, and instrumental( Oh, and I have a secret obsession with Journey LOL) and of course I still love my freestyle. George Lamond is still my fave Freestyle male singer and TKA is my fave freestyle group and my fave freestyle girl will always be Lydia Lee Love because her song still makes me wanna cry with joy!!In my CD right now? Shania Twain, Usher,Kevin Little,High Gloss, The Emotions, Chris Botti, Beyonce ,Nightcrawlers,Duran Duran,Earth,Wind and Fire,George Lamond, Brenda K Starr, Marc Anthony,Gwen Stefani and of course Journey. I've listened to a few new artists that have songs out now, and I think that it's good stuff, does radio want to play it? I am not sure, sometimes it's hard for us to make a decision based on what radio will play. Should you do R&B because that is what is popular? No..... It is hit or miss with this genre. Here's my take on it... When I hear an old freestyle song on the radio, I remember what I was doing when I first heard it and it invokes in me all of these memories of good times etc... That is what people feel when they hear them, so they request them. Will there be a comeback? Not if there isn't enough really good updated material out there. If you recorded new disco songs the same way and style it was recorded back in the seventies you would have the same issues. Radio would say that it's outdated.
 

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Betty Dee interview...conclusion

When you look back to when you, Margie, and Mari first recorded "Hooked On You", what are the majority of memories? Are they happy?

They were very happy memories. I had never been in the studio before and I was very young and excited. I had no idea that was the beginning of something so amazing and beautiful. I didn't have a clue that my life would change forever

In your time away from the music scene, what was Betty Dee doing with her life? What kept you busy? What made you happy?

Working to make a difference in other's lives is what I have been concentrating on. Being with my family kept me both busy and happy, contrary to what I have read on the posts, I don't have children but I have my other baby, my dog Pebbles, I will post a picture soon...I finally spent time at home with my friends and family and I took long vacations!!

What would you like the future to hold for Betty Dee? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Well let's see, I am on this rollercoaster ride right now with the new song so I will wait and see where it takes me. As for ten years? Who knows, I live my life one day at a time now. I want to remain healthy, happy and I want all those around me to feel the postive energy I feel every day. If I can get that message across to at least one person every day, Then, hey.... my life is alright you know?

Betty Dee, thank you sooo much for taking the time to do this! I know the fans will really enjoy reading this!

Chuck it is my pleasure! CF has been so good to me and Sweet Sensation it's the least that I could do for you!
 

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ChuckD that was excellent and a very enjoyable read of a great freestyle singer Betty Dee! Fantastic!!!!! I hope this genre takes off...but I so much agree on everything Betty Dee said!

-antonio
 

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What an awesome interview! :D

Thank you Chuck for taking the time to put this together and THANK YOU Betty Dee for taking the time to answer all the questions! :)
 

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Very Nice Chuck Good Job!

Betty..so Nice to see You back with your music!
Your Talent & Beautiful Vocals are One of the
Faves! Much Success to you.. i will def give my
2cents to the promotors here in Chicago..it would
be great to see you perform here! ;)
 

Scott

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PS: Someone mention Journey? :D

lol, if my shirt weren't already signed by three of the guys, I'd probably wear THAT next week after seeing that plug! :lol

("new" lead singer and drummer, Steve Augeri and Dean Castronovo, and somehow I got Neal on there twice...)
 

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Very good interview Chuck, & Betty thank u for taking the time out and letting us know a little about you.
 

Unique_Freestyle

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SuCkA FrEe cItY!!!!
I had to prepare some Maruchan Instant Lunch, because I knew it would be a while to read this interview, after reading the whole Interview, I can truly can say that Chuck D asked real good questions in this interview , good stuff Chuck D.!!!!! Betty Dee, welcome back, you music touched me growing up and I just wanted to thank you for the inspiration!
 
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