Truth Hurts, aka Shari Watson, debuted on the music scene as an R&B singer with the help of rap artist and producer Dr. Dre. The famous rapper picked her up for his record label Aftermath, a sublabel of Interscope. The result was 2002's Truthfully Speaking, which featured the hit single "Addictive." Although "Addictive" put the singer in the national spotlight and landed in the number two position on the R&B charts, it ultimately tripped up both the singer and her label because of its unauthorized use of a copyrighted sample. The copyright owner successfully sued the label, which was forced to yank the album from stores, putting the brakes on Truth's career and contributing to a breakup with her label. Truth Hurts later returned with 2004's Ready Now on the Pookie label, ready for a new start.
Truth Hurts was born Shari Watson in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father worked as a concert promoter, helping to bring acts such as the Pointer Sisters and Phyllis Hyman to St. Louis audiences. Thus exposed to music at an early age, Truth developed a passion for singing. Her mother quickly recognized the girl's talent and signed her up for lessons. By the mid-1980s the future Truth got help from another relative, this time a cousin, who played with a St. Louis cover band called Mystic Voyage. The cousin brought Truth into the band, and soon she was singing regularly at St. Louis clubs that she wasn't old enough to enter as an audience member.
Coming out of high school, Truth turned down an opera scholarship to the University of Chicago so that she could pursue a career in popular music. A break came after she formed an R&B duo called Shug & Dap with a friend. Shug & Dap released a single called "Anotha Man" on the Giant Records label in the early 1990s, but just as the group seemed about to take off, Giant went of out business.
Undaunted, Watson persevered, eventually finding a niche for herself in the music business as a songwriter for such acts as Mario Winans, Monifah, Shanice, and others. But after a time, she later told Kevin C. Johnson in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "I really wanted to get back into my singing career."
With this in mind, Truth landed herself an audition for a female group to be produced by Dr. Dre's Aftermath label in Los Angeles. But instead of putting her in the group's lineup, Dr. Dre took her on as a writer for the label. Still known professionally as Shari Watson, Truth spent a number of years as a writer with Aftermath before deciding that she wanted to make a career change. She planned to head to Atlanta to attend school and "take care of my daughter," as she told Dominique M. Grant in the Mississippi Link.
But as 1999 drew to a close, Dr. Dre called her with a new offer—to cut a solo album with the help of Dr. Dre and producer DJ Quik. The singer took some time deciding whether to accept the deal. She later told Randy Lewis in the Los Angeles Times that "at that point I felt I was done with the music industry." Ultimately, however, Truth decided that the offer was too good to pass up.
The result was her solo debut album, Truthfully Speaking. After taking the professional name Truth Hurts, the singer, then 30 years old, released the album in 2002 and embarked on a concert tour to promote it. With Dr. Dre as executive producer, the album was co-written by Truth and featured the music of Timbaland, R. Kelly, and other well-established hip-hop producers, as well as contributions by Dr. Dre and DJ Quik. It was Dr. Dre who gave her the name Truth Hurts, and Truth felt it fit her perfectly because, as she told Johnson, "I don't hold back when it's time for me to tell how I feel."
Truthfully Speaking debuted to mixed reviews, including one by the Boston Globe's Ken Capobianco, who called her "a solid singer in search of an identifiable sound." The album, however, reached the number five position on national sales charts, and its lead single, "Addictive," received extensive play on MTV and radio. The track also made it to the top ten on the pop charts and the top three on the R&B charts. Truth Hurts seemed poised to take the R&B world by storm.
Unfortunately, the track's producer, DJ Quik, had used a music sample in the Indian-flavored "Addictive" without permission. The copyright holder, an Indian music and film production company, successfully sued the label, forcing it to pull the album from stores. The album was supposed to be returned to store shelves after the copyright holder was credited, but Truth later told the press that it never reappeared in most stores. This, plus Truth's feeling that the album was given the wrong kind of promotion—as a rap album rather than an R&B release—led to a mutually-agreed-upon parting of ways for the singer and her label.
Bouncing back from her breakup with Aftermath, Truth hooked up with the Pookie Entertainment label for her sophomore effort, Ready Now. With a new album and a new moniker (she became known simply as "Truth"), she was determined to put her checkered recording past behind her. She was also excited to work with Raphael Saadiq, the mastermind behind Pookie. Ready Now debuted in 2004 at the number 46 position on the Billboard R&B albums chart and the 173 position on the Billboard 200 chart. With its release, Truth hoped to showcase not only her new name but the renewed sense of purpose behind her music. "It's a reinvention," she explained to Johnson.
As with her first album, Ready Now received mixed reviews. People magazine felt that while her gospel-inspired singing showed off a powerful talent, the "mediocre material" on the album failed to match the quality of her voice. Billboard magazine, too, focused on Truth's "commanding, yet soulful" singing while downplaying the album's musical material. Nevertheless, the singer has remained determined to bring her message of hope and inspiration to women and girls "who need strength, to people who need healing," and to everyone else who appreciates a seasoned voice more than the latest teen sensation.
For the Record …
Born Shari Watson, c. 1972, in St. Louis, MO; children: one daughter.
Began singing in clubs as a teenager, mid-1980s; signed with Giant Records, released single "Anotha Man" as part of R&B duo Shug & Dap, early 1990s; established career as songwriter for acts such as Mario Winans, Monifah, Shanice, and others, 1990s; worked as song-writer for Aftermath Records, 1990s; signed record deal with Aftermath, 1999; released debut solo album, Truthfully Speaking, 2002; left Aftermath, signed with Pookie Entertainment, released Ready Now, 2004.
Addresses: Record company—Pookie Entertainment, 4850 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91601, website: http://www.pookieentertainment.com.
Truthfully Speaking, Aftermath/Interscope, 2002.
Ready Now, Pookie, 2004.
Billboard, June 12, 2004, p. 34.
Boston Globe, July 12, 2002, p. D14.
Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2002, p. F60.
Mississippi Link, October 23, 2002, p. 10.
People, June 14, 2004, p. 48.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 18, 2002, p. F1; September 26, 2002, p. D3; June 27, 2004, p.1.
Pookie Entertainment, http://www.pookieentertainment.com (July 5, 2004).
"Truth Hurts," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (July 4, 2004).
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