Initially known as Brother International, the band began as an instrumental acid-jazz group in 1985, changing their name to Brand New Heavies after gaining their first record contract. The band were quick to gain a cult following, finding many fans in the burgeoning London club scene. Initially formed of Jan Kincaid (drums/keyboards), Simon Bartholomew (guitars) and Andrew Levy (bass/keyboards), the band soon added a brass section as well as vocalist Jay Ella Ruth.
The band signed with indie label, Acid Jazz, for their self-titled debut album, which garnered widespread critical acclaim upon its release. The band also gained a US distribution deal with Delicious Vinyl, with whom they re-recorded their debut for a US release. Jay Ella Ruth also left the group at this time, with N’dea Davenport brought in instead. Brand New Heavies found hits in the UK with “Dream Come True” and “Stay This Way,” but it was with “Never Stop” that the Heavies broke the US market, becoming the first group to break into the American R&B Chart since Soul II Soul’s success.
After collaborating with Q-Tip and MC Sech, the Brand New Heavies were inspired to incorporate more hip hop influences into their music, evident in their next album, “Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1.” The album brought in Main Source, Gang Starr, Grand Puba and The Pharcyde to feature on the 1992 recording, which peaked at 38 in the UK and 139 in the US.
Success continued for the Heavies with 1994’s “Brother Sister,” which went Platinum in the UK. Davenport left the group to pursue a solo career, with singer Siedah Garrett taking over vocal responsibilities, with her first feature with the band being on 1997’s “Shelter.”
After two successful greatest hits albums, released on both sides of the atlantic, Davenport decided to reunite with the group, joining them early in 2006. “Get Used To It” arrived a year later, after which they embarked on an extensive tour across the UK and Europe. The band returned to their instrumental roots with 2011’s “Dunk Your Trunk,” before once again uniting with N’Dea Davenport, as well as new vocalist Dawn Joseph, for 2013’s “Forward.” Joseph became the group’s sole vocalist on their 2014 release, “Sweet Freaks,” their first for Earmusic.