To set the record straight ELISE NEAL DID NOT record "Dontcha"! TORI ALAMAZE...Google her! C-Lo Green wrote the song for her READ BELOW
FINALLY...closure! "DONT CHA" controversy! by your girl, Tori Alamaze!
.by Tori Alamaze on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 10:27am.This one’s for all the singers, songwriters, producers, dancers, artists, creative spirits and all-manner of hardworking, visionary individuals who’ve ever had a dream deferred…
My name is Tori Alamaze and I was born an artist. A damn good one!! And like many entertainers, I’ve had my heart broken in this music industry. I’ve had big ups, and big downs. The entire experience has taught me that you can’t have one without the other.
Until now, I’d never released a public statement regarding my feelings about the whole “Don’t Cha” fiasco. I’ve put the pain and disappointment in their proper place. I have found it in myself to forgive those involved, and have completely moved on with my life & music.
However, in not offering my side of the story, I unwittingly allowed a vacuum of truth to be created. In that void, folks have felt free to just, well, make up stuff. There have been plenty of false assumptions, inaccurate conclusions, and just flat out baseless stories all over the internet in blogs, gossip sites . . . etc. Fortunately, in time the controversy subsided and I was able to find much needed peace of mind.
I am going to set the record straight on the entire situation in this letter, but I must first speak on what necessitated breaking my silence and coming forward.
On August 1st, I literally received hundreds of texts asking me to watch TV ONE’s “Life After” featuring Elise Neal. On the show, Ms. Neal claimed that the Pussycat Dolls (PCDs) stole the song “Don’t Cha” from her, and in the process robbed her of a burgeoning music career. Elise, and the other commentators in the segment, created a very misleading narrative about how she was wronged in the pursuit of her dream of a music career. To those first being exposed to the entire situation, her case is very compelling.
The TV One piece gives the viewers the very inaccurate perception that Elise Neal was a principal creative force behind the “Don’t Cha” phenomenon. To her credit, she does admit to having been given the song for use in her stage performance (albeit without permission). However, only seconds later, she is credited with having “debuted” the song and “the entire concept” in her stage act. Another commentator expressed it this way when he said, “Elise Neal and her girls sang ‘Don’t Cha’ before it became ‘Don’t Cha.’”
Sooo. . .to clear up the major misconceptions created by the “Life After” episode, I assert that:
• Ms. Neal never put pen to paper, nor did she ever step foot in a studio to lay any vocals on the song “Don’t Cha.” Neither of these points can be disputed. So then the song was never hers to “steal” in the first place.
• Further, she did no promotional appearances in support of the song’s 2005 release, nor was she party to its international distribution in any way. Beyond the venues where Ms. Neal performed, there is absolutely no discernible connection between her and the song “Don’t Cha.”
• At best, Ms. Neal choreographed a dance routine and covered the song . . . which she used in her stage show without the consent of Ceelo or myself, who were the real creative team behind the smash hit. With that said, she would not have been granted lawful permission, by myself or Ceelo, to use our work on a prospective album. So, unless Ms. Neal had written other songs on par with “Don’t Cha,” her claim to being denied industry stardom is unfounded.
Now that I’ve addressed that issue, I decided it is time for me to have my say on the past. I’ll do my best to keep it short, sweet & honest. I do hope you understand…
In early 2004, Ceelo Green (of Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley fame) and I had begun creating a new “sound.” We had known each other for years, but as we collaborated in the studio, he began referring to me as his “muse.” I learned a great deal musically under Ceelo’s tutelage! He is truly a genius. Our creative union led to a wealth of great music. In time, I became his artist and was signed to his production company, Radiculture Records. We began working on my debut album. I was ecstatic.
During this creative process, and based on a series of our conversations about my life and relationships, he wrote the breakthrough song, “Don’t Cha.” For me, of course!
Dj Felli Fel from Power 106 in LA heard “Don’t Cha” while we were recording at Jermaine Dupri’s studio in Atlanta. I played it for him. He looked at me and smiled, then said he was going to break the song on his radio show. Within days, the song became an anthem in LA. It shot straight to the top of the request list. With no promotion, video or distribution the song became a phenomenon in LA and other cities across the nation.
“Don’t Cha” got me my deal! Doug Morris, the CEO of Universal Music, loved it so much, he didn’t even want it mixed down & mastered. I was there when he said “leave it like it is . . . it’s RAW!” My confidence continued to soar!
In late 2004, I signed a record deal with Universal Motown.
“Don’t Cha” was featured in the hit movie “Beauty Shop” starring Queen Latifah. With this, it reached an even wider audience. Requests were made, and spins were increasing. The song charted with absolutely no promotional machine behind it . . . totally unheard of. I was in New York Times, Vibe and all over the internet! So basically, I felt like, ok . . . I am about to soar. The album was great, plus I got Ceelo on my team. Mission accomplished . . . or so I thought.
On a Tuesday, I was leaving the gym and my manager called saying the label decided to “give” the song to the Pussycat Dolls. Who? What? I mean, the song was already being played on the radio; my name was clearly attached to it . . . hell, I was performing it everywhere and doing my round of radio interviews all over the country.
I was confused, disheartened; but felt like the album was still strong without it. So I kept going. I recall prepping for shows in Hawaii, and getting a call from management saying Ceelo was in LA shooting the video with the Pussycat Dolls. I felt my heart fall into my stomach. I felt disgusted and betrayed (not by Ceelo in particular, but the situation in general) in a way that I had never experienced before. I laid down in my hotel and cried. I was embarrassed and could not make sense of my fate. I couldn’t cry for too long though, because I had shows to perform. So I put my concealer, lipstick, and high heels on and kept that shit moving! Hell, that is what we Sistas do when we face adversity . . . it is a sign of our strength.
I got a call from Ceelo attempting to explain the situation. In his defense, he was put in a very tough situation by the label. They made him an “offer he couldn’t refuse.”As we talked, Ceelo told me that the Dolls “revered me” and that they “loved my voice.” Well, of course they do...they had to study every adlib & inflection in order to attempt to mimic my style! They then went on to have a mega-hit record and the rest is all well-recorded history.
I love my life, as is. I am truly blessed. I bear no animosity whatsoever toward Ceelo, Universal Motown or the Pussycat Dolls. Everything happens for a reason, and that reason is critical in the unfolding of our respective destinies. In the aftermath of this incident, all three have never spoken ill of me and I have taken the high road as well . . . and will continue to maintain my dignity. However, I do feel that the truth should finally have been told.
In conclusion, the original version of “Don’t Cha” is all over the internet. This is the best way to settle the controversy. Just Google, Bing, Imeem, or YouTube Tori Alamaze/don’t cha . . . it is all there, plus current music, videos of mine, etc...
Again, there are no BIG ups, without BIG downs. I’ve pushed through, and have come through better, stronger, and more determined to see my dreams manifest. I believe in my gifts, and love, love, love my supporters for their endless encouragement, and support!
You have not heard the last of me!!