Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas gained fame as part of the Grammy winning girl group TLC, along with Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (died in 2002). TLC scored four successful studio albums, including the diamond record “CrazySexyCool” (1994) and the multi platinum selling albums “Ooooooohhh.... On the TLC Tip” (1992) and “FanMail” (1999). The fourth album, “3D,” was released seven months after the death of Lopes. The group also had four No. 1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Creep” (1994), “Waterfalls” (1995), “No Scrubs” (1999) and “Unpretty” (1999).
Thomas, who was named one of “People” magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” (1996), is also an actress and has appeared in “Hav Plenty” (1997), “Snow Day” (2000), “That '70s Show” (2003) and “Strong Medicine” (2004). In addition, she is the creator, executive producer and star of the reality TV series “What Chilli Wants” (2010-2011).
Thomas has a son named Tron (born in 1997) with her former companion, producer Dallas Austin (born December 29, 1970). After her relationship with Austin ended, Thomas began dating R&B singer Usher Raymond in 2001, but they broke up in January 2004. She was also once linked to model Tyson Beckford.
Thomas has her own handbag line called Bags by Chilli.
Childhood and Family:
Rozonda Ocelean Thomas was born on February 27, 1971, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Abdul Ali, who was of East Indian and Middle Eastern (Arab) origin, and Ava Thomas, who is of African American and Native American origin. She graduated from B.E. Mays High School and was raised primarily by her mother. In 1996, at age 25, she was reunited with her father on an episode of the TV talk show “Sally Jessy Raphael.” The next year, on June 2, 1997, she gave birth to a son named Tron (father is music producer Dallas Austin).
Rozonda is known by her nicknames “Chilli” and “Roz.”
What Chilli Wants
A part time backup dancer for Damian Dame, Rozonda Thomas began her music career when she joined TLC in 1991 after the departure of founding member Crystal Jones. Along with Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the trio released their debut album, “Ooooooohhh.... On the TLC Tip” on February 25, 1992, under LaFace Records. The album peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album charts. It has since sold over 4 million copies in the United States and 6 million worldwide.
“Ooooooohhh.... On the TLC Tip” produced four hit singles. The lead single, “Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg,” (1992) rose to No. 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and No. 6 the Billboard Hot 100. It also topped the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart and brought the girls their first Grammy nomination in 1993, for Best R&B Song. “Baby-Baby-Baby” became the group's second Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 by peaking at No. 2. It also rose to No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. The third single, “What About Your Friends,” peaked at No. 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the last single, “Hat 2 da Back,” peaked at No. 14 and No. 30, respectively.
On November 15, 1994, Thomas and the band members resurfaced with the sophomore effort “CrazySexyCool,” which enjoyed even more success than its predecessor. The album rose to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums Chart. It also charted in the U.K. (#4), New Zealand (#1), Germany (#4), Netherlands (#4), Australia (#5) and Switzerland (#10) and was certified diamond by RIAA. “CrazySexyCool” won a 1996 Grammy for Best R&B Album.
Written by Thomas' then-boyfriend Austin Dallas, the lead single “Creep” became TLC's first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The song also topped the Billboard Hot R&B Singles & Tracks. The second single, “Red Light Special,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the Hot R&B Singles & Tracks. The group had their next No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with the single “Waterfalls.” The song also went to No. 4 on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks and the U.K. Singles Chart and was nominated for Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The final single, “Diggin' on You,” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 7 on the Hot R&B Singles chart.
In the middle of their success, TLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995. They then sought to renegotiate their contract with LaFace and end their association with Pebbitone. The case was settled in late 1996 and after signing a new contract with LaFace, the girls were scheduled to enter the recording studio in 1997.
The third studio album, “FanMail,” was launched on February 23, 1999. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and was certified 6x platinum by RIAA. “FanMail” won a 2000 Grammy for Best R&B Album and received a nomination for Album of the Year. The first single, “No Scrubs,” rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Billboard Top 40 Mainstream and Billboard Rhythmic Top 40. It won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and was nominated for Record of the Year. The album also spawned the Grammy nominated single “Unpretty,” which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks.
On April 25, 2002, TLC’s member Lopes died of a car crash in La Ceiba, Honduras. The group's fourth album, “3D,” was released seven months later on November 12, 2002. It rose to No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and has been certified platinum by RIAA. “3D” produced the Grammy nominated singles “Girl Talk” and “Hands Up.”
The remaining two members of TLC went on hiatus in 2003. Watkins and Thomas were later reunited in June 2008 when the two made a special appearance on the BET Awards. In October, the girls were presenters at the BETJ Virtual Awards. They have since performed together on several occasions.
Because of scheduling conflicts and constant delays, Thomas' debut solo album, “Bi-Polar,” was shelved. Certain tracks that were intended for the album were leaked between 2006 and 2008.
Thomas has landed guest spots in television series like “That '70s Show” (2003), “The Parkers” (2004) and “Strong Medicine” (2004). She also appeared in the TV movies “Love Song” and “A Diva's Christmas Carol” (both 2000) and in such films as “House Party 3” (1994), “Hav Plenty” (1997), “Snow Day” (2000) and “Ticker” (2001). Thomas currently stars in the reality show “What Chilli Wants,” which premiered on VH1 on April 11, 2010. She also serves as executive producer and creator/writer for the show.
Grammy: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, “No Scrubs,” 2000
Grammy: Best R&B Album, “Fanmail,” 2000
Grammy: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, “Creep,” 1996
Grammy: Best R&B Album, “CrazySexyCool,” 1996