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Who sings Color Me Badd?

Color Me Badd was an American R&B vocal group that was formed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1985. The original members were Bryan Abrams, Mark Calderon, Sam Watters and Kevin Thornton. They became popular in the early 1990s with their hit songs “I Wanna Sex You Up”, “I Adore Mi Amor”, “All 4 Love” and “Color Me Badd”. Let’s take a closer look at the history and success of this influential R&B group.

Formation of Color Me Badd

Color Me Badd was formed in 1985 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma when the four original members met while singing together in their high school choir. Bryan Abrams and Mark Calderon had been friends since elementary school and first started singing together in talent shows. They later met Sam Watters and Kevin Thornton in choir and recognized that their voices blended together nicely. After graduation, they continued to perform together around Oklahoma City and decided to form an official R&B vocal group.

The group was originally named Take One but later changed their name to Color Me Badd, which was suggested by Abrams’ mother. The new name was a play on the concept of coloring books and suited their pop, R&B and a cappella style. They began performing wherever they could – talent shows, nightclubs, opening for other bands. Their unique sound, choreography and image quickly earned them a local fanbase.

Early Success and Debut Album

In 1989, Color Me Badd caught the attention of producers and executives at Giant Records when they performed at an industry showcase in New York City. They were quickly signed to a record deal. Their self-titled debut album “C.M.B.” was released in 1991 and featured the singles “I Wanna Sex You Up” and “I Adore Mi Amor”, both of which were major hits.

Single Release Date Chart Peak
I Wanna Sex You Up March 26, 1991 #2 Billboard Hot 100
I Adore Mi Amor August 20, 1991 #1 Billboard Hot 100

“I Wanna Sex You Up” reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and sold over 500,000 copies. “I Adore Mi Amor” hit #1 on the Hot 100 and was certified platinum. The music videos for both singles received heavy rotation on MTV. CMB showcased Color Me Badd’s signature sound – overlaid harmonies, romantic lyrics and a new jack swing style that was popular at the time. The album was certified double platinum and established the group as a top R&B act.

Breakthrough Success with “All 4 Love”

Riding high off their debut, Color Me Badd went to work on their follow-up album. In 1992 they released their sophomore effort “C.M.B.” which included the lead single “All 4 Love” featuring hip hop artist Dr. Freeze. “All 4 Love” became the group’s biggest hit, spending one week at #1 on the Hot 100 chart. The visuals for the song paid homage to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper era and showcased the group’s talent for catchy pop-R&B.

The album “C.M.B.” sold over 6 million copies worldwide and cemented Color Me Badd as global superstars. It featured other hit singles like “Thinkin’ Back” (#16 Hot 100) and “Sexual Capacity” (#14 Hot 100) as well as popular album tracks like “Slow Motion” and “The Earth, The Sun, The Rain”. CMB toured extensively off the success of the album, even serving as an opening act on a Michael Bolton tour. Their polished style and universal appeal made them hugely popular both in the US and overseas.

Later Albums and Decline

Color Me Badd released their third album “Time and Chance” in 1996. It didn’t achieve the same level of mainstream success as their first two albums but did feature the hit single “The Promise I Made” (#24 Hot 100). Shortly after this, however, the group began having internal conflicts that caused lineup changes. Sam Watters left the group in 1997 to pursue a career as a producer and songwriter.

The group replaced him with new member Trey Farley and released their fourth album “Awesome” in 1998 on the Motown label. However, without their original magic, the album failed to make an impact. Kevin Thornton would also depart Color Me Badd in 1998, leaving Bryan Abrams and Mark Calderon as the only remaining original members. Abrams and Calderon released an album as a duo in 2000 but disbanded shortly after when Calderon left as well.

In 2010, the original four members reunited for a 20th anniversary tour. They have continued touring since then, riding the nostalgia wave by performing their old hits. They also released a new album titled “Forever” in 2019. While they can still draw crowds based on 1990s nostalgia, Color Me Badd has not produced any major hits in over 20 years. Their time as R&B icons was limited to those early albums and smash singles that made them famous.

Legacy and Influence

At their peak from 1991-1993, Color Me Badd’s smooth vocal style and pop-R&B fusion made them stand out and helped pioneer the new jack swing sound that bridged into contemporary R&B. Songs like “I Wanna Sex You Up”, “All 4 Love” and “I Adore Mi Amor” became defining hits of the early 1990s and are still played on throwback stations today. They are remembered for their signature a cappella harmonizing and their stylish outfits and choreography in music videos.

Beyond their catchy songs, Color Me Badd influenced other artists that would emerge later in the decade. Groups like Boyz II Men, All-4-One, Shai and 98 Degrees followed in their footsteps combining R&B vocals with pop melodies and style. New jack swing fell out of favor later in the 1990s, but it remained a definitive sound of the era. While their time on the charts was short, Color Me Badd’s impact is still felt in early 90s R&B and pop culture.

Where Are They Now?

Here is a look at what the original members of Color Me Badd are up to now:

  • Bryan Abrams – Abrams has continued touring with Color Me Badd, including shows at casinos and nightclubs. He also released some solo music in the 2000s and 2010s.
  • Mark Calderon – After a few years away from the group, Calderon rejoined for their 2010 reunion and has been touring with them since. He also does some acting, appearing in commercials and web series.
  • Sam Watters – Watters has found success as a producer and songwriter, working with artists like Jessica Simpson, Fantasia, and 98 Degrees. He also worked on the hit TV show American Idol.
  • Kevin Thornton – Thornton left Color Me Badd in 1998 and has since kept a relatively low profile, though he did reunite with the group briefly in 2010 before parting ways again.

Though they are well past their hitmaking days, the story of Color Me Badd’s meteoric rise remains an interesting time capsule in pop R&B history. Their signature sound and chart dominance paved the way for male vocal groups that followed. Classic songs like “I Wanna Sex You Up” and “All 4 Love” are still widely known today. For a few years in the early 1990s, Color Me Badd was one of the biggest acts in music.


Color Me Badd made an indelible mark on the early 1990s music scene with their multi-platinum pop-R&B style. Hits like “I Wanna Sex You Up”, “All 4 Love”, and “I Adore Mi Amor” defined the new jack swing era and showcased their silky harmonizing that influenced later artists. Though their chart success was relatively short-lived, songs like “I Wanna Sex You Up” remain pop culture staples. Their career arc exemplified the fast rise and fall many groups experienced in that period. While nostalgia acts today, Color Me Badd at their peak was a force in blending R&B and pop that heavily impacted the musical landscape.