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Dionne Farris 

Back for the first time

A New Jersey native travels south with dreams of climbing the Billboard charts.

Yeah, Dionne Farris' story begins like most musicians' might. But her page-turner presented an interesting twist in the first chapter. When alternative hip-hop ensemble Arrested Development needed someone to give its song "Tennessee" a lil vocal oomph, Farris reluctantly helped out. The song became a sensation.

Sounds like a great read, right? But there's more. She followed that smash with two of her own, the poppy "I Know" in '94 and passionate "Hopeless" off '97's Love Jones soundtrack. Then, all of a sudden, she disappeared.

"I've been toying with writing a book," says Farris, who knows drama James Frey couldn't imagine. Perhaps she could lay those nagging questions to rest; she still gets asked, for example, "Where in the heck did you go? What happened?"

Farris insists the painful answers spawn from dealing with an industry that judged her debut CD, Wild Seed – Wild Flower, by its cover. "I was a 'black artist' but I was not doing what was traditionally 'black music,'" she says. "I went to a lot of black radio stations and they were like, 'Girl, I love the record, but I can't play ["I Know"] because it's not our format.'"

Farris weathered the dark times by embracing motherhood, reconnecting with her Creator and incessantly jotting in a notebook.

Signs of Life is Farris' triumphant new chapter. Technically completed more than a year ago, a newly confident Farris is pushing breezy head-lifters such as "For U" and "Funny.

"There needs to be a healing," she says. "People are in pain right now. It's so hopeless out there. People are looking for music to help stimulate their souls, man."

We can't wait to read the liner notes.

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