En Vogue: Women Have Come a Long Way, but There’s Still Work to Do

En Vogue will perform at Red Rocks, Tuesday, June 27.
En Vogue will perform at Red Rocks, Tuesday, June 27.
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R&B outfit En Vogue emerged in the 1990s, back when bands like TLC and Destiny’s Child were ruling the mainstream charts. The Oakland-based act differed from its peers.

The 1992 “Free Your Mind” single, for example, from the excellent Funky Divas album, was attractive to people who didn’t necessarily listen to a lot of R&B prior to that, because of the killer guitar licks, and the intelligent, anti-prejudice lyrics. These razor-sharp women brought their message to the mainstream and other sub-cultures, and it’s a message that we need to keep hearing today.

The band has a new album, Electric Cafe, coming out this summer, and will be performing at Red Rocks with Ms. Lauryn Hill. We spoke to founding member Cindy Herron-Braggs about all of that and more.

Westword: The new album, Electric Cafe, comes out in the summer. Have there been any changes to the classic En Vogue sound or style since the last record?

Cindy Herron-Braggs: Definitely, because we’ve evolved as singers, as performers, as women, so that’ll be reflected in the writing of our music. You’ll still have the signature En Vogue harmony, but definitely evolved sound, I think.

The band has been in existence for 27 years, despite a few lineup changes. What keeps you going?

We still love performing. We love what we do. We’ve still got a pretty good fan base that wants to come out and hear our music and has been asking for new music for a long time now. It’s that energy and that love that keeps us going and keeps us wanting to come back and perform. When we engage with them, it energizes us, and it’s an exchange of love. We love coming back to that.

“Free Your Mind” had such a strong message back in the ’90s. Is it more important than ever under this administration to have strong women speaking out against sexism and racism?

I think it is, but I think that’s with any administration. There are still issues in America with women not making the same amount of pay for the same jobs as men. We have not fully arrived yet. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve not fully arrived yet, so I think with any administration, it’s still important to have women with strong voices to uphold and support each other and get those messages out there that open up people’s minds, and free their minds, to accepting women for what they’re able to bring to the world, the workforce, to the home, everywhere.

You’re on tour with Lauryn Hill. Are you fans?

We’re big fans of Lauryn, so we’re so excited that we’re going to be there all in the same day.

Do you enjoy playing Colorado and Red Rocks?

We love Colorado. I don’t remember ever playing at Red Rocks. We’re looking forward to it.

What can we expect from the set?

You’re gonna hear all of our hits, and I think we’re going to have the first single that we released from this album, that we released as a free download to our fans, “Deja Vu,” so you’ll hear that. That’ll be something new in the lineup.

When this run of shows is over, what’s next for the band?

We have a tour in America that will take us to October 27, and then it looks like we’re going to be going to Australia for a couple of weeks. We’ve been to Europe and Africa; now we’re on the American leg, and I believe we’re finishing in Australia.

En Vogue, with Lauryn Hill and Common, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, Red Rocks, 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 720-865-2494.

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