Three Questions With Dave Hollister

If one of the main things you miss about ’90s R&B is seeing Dave Hollister in a matching winter white hat and sweater set in a music video,  don’t despair. 

Tonight, TV One’s Unsung features Hollister and his many sartorial choices, including a lizard print jacket and pants combo. But Hollister isn’t just fashion forward. He was one of the most sought-after crooners on the ’90s R&B scene.

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(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

With a pastor father and a mother who was a choir director, he spent every day in church and sang in the choir. He eventually landed a gig singing background for Vanessa Bell Armstrong, before moving into the secular world singing background with Mary J. Blige on the remix of “Love No Limit.”

He would go on to be the vocal director on tour with Blige and singing back-up for Patti LaBelle for five years. He didn’t just straddle the gospel and R&B worlds, he also dabbled in hip-hop, singing back-up for Digital Underground and on Tupac’s “Brenda’s Got a Baby” and “Keep Your Head Up.”

The first group he became a member of was a spin-off of Digital Underground, Force One Network, that garnered attention for the single, “Spirit” on the Boyz N the Hood soundtrack.

Beyond that single, the group bombed. But when Teddy Riley plucked Hollister to be in the R&B group Blackstreet, he scored a hit as the lead on the single, “Before I Let Go.”

After some hood-type beef with fellow Blackstreet member Chauncey Black, Erick Sermon signed Hollister as a solo artist to Def Squad before he eventually landed at Dreamworks.

But he never completely left gospel music and went back to genre after a near-death experience, producing two more albums. He says, he didn’t want to be boxed in.

“I’m not a gospel artist, I’m not a R&B artist, I’m a messenger,” he told The Shadow League via phone in advance of his Unsung episode.

There is the requisite rock-n-roll story of debauchery, cocaine and infinite amounts of groupies in the episode, but Hollister’s story is less about redemption than it is about finding his own truth.

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“I never get flak from the R&B side,” he said about straddling gospel and R&B worlds. “The gospel record industry–a lot of them think they are holier-than-thou. They do what they do behind your back and profess the name of Jesus.”

Hollister spoke to TSL ahead of his episode tonight and dropped some jewels on us.


The Shadow League: We have talked about how to get that sweater and hat combo for the longest from the video “One Woman Man.” Where did you get it?

Dave Hollister: From Gui, from 5001 Flavors in New York. He was making all the big boy clothes — Big Pun, Fat Joe, Biggie, Gerald LeVert. His clothing store started out as a big boy store and then he started making clothes for Mary J, Case and everybody in the industry. He’s the man now.

TSL: What was at the heart of your addictions and how do you maintain now?

DH: I was trying to make the pain go away. Especially when I found out my ex-wife cheated on me. I would leave my son with my mother when he was supposed to be spending his summers with me or whoever. I would get his Xbox and leave him in the hotel room while I’m downstairs getting high. Stuff like that would play back in my mind to keep me from thinking about doing it again. I’ve been clean 10 years.

TSL: What was it like sharing an apartment with Tupac and working with him?

DH: Tupac was not what the public saw. We shared an apartment and I got to see the real Pac. He was socially conscious. He was about his people. He talked about that a lot. He had millions of rhymes, books of rhymes, that’s all he wrote about when we were there. There was a lot of stuff that hasn’t surfaced.

Dave Hollister’s TV One Unsung episode airs tonight at 8:00PM EST 

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