The biggest part of my musical journey was eleven years in WILD ORCHID – on RCA Records. Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson, Renee Sandstrom and I were best friends … and we became a girl group while still teenagers. We recorded three albums, made several music videos (you can still see them on YouTube) had a hit TV show – “The Great Pretenders” on Fox/ABC and toured the world. We recorded over 50 songs – with incredible dance routines to many of them. We had the time of our lives, plenty of endless hard work… but ultimately Wild Orchid did not break through. There are still many devoted fans of our music; which is very much appreciated. You may remember “Talk To Me” “Supernatural” or our first Billboard hit “At Night I Pray.” We were all over television, constantly performing; dancing, singing, hosting, and showing up! Stacy and Renee and I remain close-as-ever friends.
Wild Orchid began in 1990 when Renee Sandstrom and Stefanie Ridel met at Kennedy High’s drama department. They formed a group based on their love of music and poetry, and initially were called New Rhythm Generation. Heather Holyoak and Stacy Ferguson (Fergie) soon joined the group and began searching for a record contract. As they wrote their songs and recorded their first single “Get Crazy – Work It” the girls began coming up with dance routines. Knowing full well that beauty and talent would go a long way, Holyoak, Sandstrom, Ridel and Ferguson sent out a portfolio of photographs along with their demo tapes.
In February 1991, NRG performed at a local LA nightclub for the first time. At this time, Heather Holyoak returned to college, and the three remaining girls held auditions to recruit a fourth member. Micki Duran became the newest member of NRG. In July 1991, NRG performed to a sold out crowd at a BMI showcase and was embraced instantly. By 1992, the girls had found a new manager, Marta Marrero, and a new name: “Wild Orchid”.
Wild Orchid began auditioning for record labels but remained unsigned. They eventually landed a music publishing deal with Sony Publishing and ultimately were signed to RCA Records in 1994. Duran decided to leave the group. Wild Orchid became a trio consisting of Ferguson, Ridel, and Sandstrom. Their first single “At Night I Pray” debuted on the Billboard magazine Hot 100 and R&B Singles charts in September 1996. A video directed by Marcus Nispel, known for his work with Janet Jackson, was in heavy rotation on MTV and VH-1.
In March 1997, Wild Orchid released their self-titled debut album Wild Orchid. The largely self-written album sold nearly a million units worldwide and included the singles “Talk to Me” (featured in the 1997 movie Fools Rush In), “At Night I Pray” and “Supernatural”. The album received two Billboard Music Award nominations for “Talk to Me” plus two Soul Train Lady of Soul Award nominations – one for Album of The Year by A Group, Band or Duo and one for Best Music Video for “Talk To Me” and an American Music Award nomination for Favorite R&B/Soul New Artist.
Wild Orchid spent most of 1996–1997 promoting their debut album, making appearances on Ricki Lake, Access Hollywood, MTV, Wild On!, The RuPaul Show, Hard Copy, Vibe, Mad TV, Soul Train, Pat Bullard, Caryl & Marilyn: Real Friends, Terry Bradshaw, Crook and Chase, Jenny Jones, MuchMusic’s Electric Circus, as well as a guest appearance on the UPN sitcom Goode Behavior. They were frequent guest hosts on E! Network’s The Gossip Show. They went on tour with 98 Degrees and ‘N Sync across the U.S., and did their own promotional tour in the U.S., Canada, and Asia. In May 1998, they released dance remixes of their songs “I Won’t Play The Fool” and “Follow Me. “I Won’t Play The Fool” the remix landed on Billboard’s Top 10 Dance Chart in 1998. That same month, they performed at “Divas Simply Singing”, an annual AIDS benefit concert in Los Angeles hosted by Sheryl Lee Ralph.
In September 1998, they released their second album, Oxygen which included the first and only single “Be Mine”. The album sold 22,000 copies in the U.S. according to |Billboard. The album release coincided with their stint as Guess spokespersons and models. They embarked on a brief promotional tour throughout the U.S., continued to host on E!’s The Gossip Show, and performed “Be Mine” on Donny and Marie. Also in September, Wild Orchid started hosting the Fox Family Channel’s Saturday morning show Great Pretenders, which featured chart hits lip-synched by everyday kids, while competing for prizes. This show lasted four seasons from 1998 to 2001.
In February 1999, the group performed “Declaration” and “Come As You Are” at the fictitious Peach Pit After Dark during the ninth season of the primetime soap-drama Beverly Hills, 90210.
From June 16 to August 28, 1999, they opened for Cher’s “Do You Believe? Tour” alongside Cyndi Lauper, which took them to 52 cities across the U.S. and Canada. In November 1999, they sang a two-minute clip of their song “25 Days Of Christmas” in Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Parade which was broadcast live on NBC.
Between 1999 and 2000, the group worked on their third album Fire, which included several tracks co-written and produced by JC Chasez from the pop group ‘N Sync. In May 2001, the group released the first single “Stuttering (Don’t Say)”, which reached #33 on the Billboard Top 40 Singles Sales chart. They became models for Bongo Jeans, featured in the August 2001 issue of Cosmopolitan. On July 19, 2001, Wild Orchid performed their final concert together at Sea World in San Diego. On July 24, 2001, they filmed their final episode (Season 4) of “Great Pretenders”, and the show was cancelled ten days later upon the announcement that Fox Family Channel was merging with ABC.
In September 2001, the group was dropped from RCA. At that point Ferguson left Wild Orchid, and in a 2006 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ferguson (then known as ‘Fergie’) revealed that both frustrations with the band’s image and personal drug problems led her to leave the group. In 2002, she joined The Black Eyed Peas under the stage name ‘Fergie’.
Between 2002 and 2003, Wild Orchid continued as a duo with Sandstrom and Ridel.
On September 26, 2006, Talk To Me: Hits, Rarities & Gems was released by Sony BMG Special Products. It is fundamentally a greatest-hits package, featuring (all previously released) singles and album tracks from Wild Orchid and Oxygen as well as the lone single from Fire, “Stuttering (Don’t Say)” and its B-side, “Lies”.