The rise of Orlando's music scene 

Backstreet boys

Current release:Released "Millennium" in May.
Label:Jive (but threatening to leave the label if "pale imitators" 'N Sync come aboard)
Orlando connection:Backstreet Boys were the original Trans Con act and still remain the best.
Working it:Currently wetting panties (young and old) on sold-out tour of U.S. Kevin Richardson, who dislocated his shoulder in a snowboarding accident just last week, was named "Sexiest Pop Star" by People.
Outlook:Can they get any bigger? Probably not, but it has been a great ride so far. Look for next album to be dissappointment when stacked up against megaplatinum "Millennium."

C Note

Current release:Released debut "Different Kind of Love" in May.
Orlando connection:Hunky four-piece vocal group was groomed by Trans Con. Brody and D'Lo are from Orlando. Unlike Backstreet and 'N Sync, C Note will tackle Europe after touring the States, not vice versa.
Working it:Cut on "Music of the Heart" soundtrack. The group hosts the latest "MTV Grind Workout" video/DVD, "Tai-Funk Aerobics."
Outlook:Three-fourths of the group is of Latin decent, giving C Note huge crossover potential. Looks like another home run.


Current release:"Human Clay," released on Sept. 28, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and stayed there for second week.
Orlando connection:Two main songwriters, singer Scott Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti, went to high school in Orlando. Management (Jeff Hanson) is also based in Orlando.
Working it:Delivered second solid album of no-frills blue-collar rock for the masses. Played exclusive Woodstock '99 festival. Track on "End of Days" soundtrack. Executive produced upcoming "Scream 3" soundtrack.
Outlook:Despite canceling some shows earlier this month due to Stapp straining his vocal chords, Creed should easliy sell nearly 2 million copies of "Human Clay" before the end of the year.

Full Devil Jacket

Current release:Released debut EP, "Wax Box," on Oct. 5.
Label:Island/Def Jam
Orlando connection:Originally from Jackson, Tenn., these Southern slammers are also managed by Orlando-based Jeff Hanson. Consider Harley Hotel home when not on the road. Local rock-radio favorites.
Working it:Have their sights set on releasing debut full-length Feb. 15. Recently shot a video for "Stain" with local videomaker Adam Gonzales.
Outlook:With hard-edged music continuing to sell well, Full Devil Jacket are in the right place at the right time. Hints of a less-arty rock sound on upcoming full-length could spell disaster for the doom squad.


Current release:Released self-titled debut on Sept. 7.
Orlando connection:Orlando-based quartet sang national anthems at countless Magic games and recorded jingles for 102 JAMZ.
Working it:Released first single, "I'll Fly Away," on June 29. Has already shared stages with Juvenile, SWV, Aaron Hall and Chicago.
Outlook:Industry buzz surrounding the vocal group is good even though first single hasn't lived up to expectations. These self-taught musicians also co-wrote seven tracks on their debut.


Current release:Signed with Brian Malouf, the senior VP of RCA and a well-respected staff producer for the label, in October.
Orlando connection:Entire band loaded with Florida music-scene veterans. Managed by Darrel Massaroni of locally based Darby Management.
Working it:Have been keeping a high profile, opening for touring national acts throughout the state. Currently starting work on material for debut record.
Outlook:Heavy sound is in right now, and JoJo does it better than most. This band gets better with each performance -- surely a group to watch in 2000.


Current release:Released debut full-length "LFO" in August.
Orlando connection:The Lyte Funky Ones don't claim Orlando as home even though they formed locally under Trans Con's wing. Managed by Trans Con. Live band features musicians from local scene.
Working it:Incredible success with first single, "Summer Girls." Video for second single, "Girl on TV," features "good friend" Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Outlook:These Trans Con "bad boy" pin-ups may already have peaked with "Summer Girls." Follow-up singles, penned by the band, will make or break the trio.

Luis Fonsi

Current release:Released debut "Comenzare" in 1998.
Label:Universal Music Latino
Orlando connection:Born in Puerto Rico, Fonsi moved to Orlando when he was 10. Went to Dr. Phillips High School. Was one of The Big Guys, a four-man a capella vocal group, along with Joey Fatone Jr. of 'N Sync.
Working it:Fonsi's first three singles landed in the Top Ten of Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks, pushing his U.S. sales figures over the 125,000 mark. Huge draw in native Puerto Rico.
Outlook:With killer pipes, pin-up looks and huge crossover potential, this Spanish-language artist could very well conquer the U.S. pop market within a few years.

Mandy Moore

Current release:Delayed debut album "So Real" -- sugar-rush of pop, R&B and rock -- hits stores Dec. 7.
Label:Epic/550 Music
Orlando connection:Yet another Trans Con-produced artist. Moore, only 15 years old, has lived in Orlando for most of her life. Known as "National Anthem Girl" for singing the "Star Spangled Banner" at sporting events.
Working it:Toured U.S. with 'N Sync over the summer. Currently opening for Backstreet Boys on huge sold-out tour of U.S. First single, "Candy," already lighting up the charts.
Outlook:With modeling, national TV commercials, TV pilots and voice-over work already under her belt, the future looks very bright for this cute-as-a-button high schooler.

Matchbox 20

Current release:"Yourself or Someone Like You," the band's blockbuster debut, was released in 1996.
Orlando connection:Formed out of the ashes of local favorites Tabitha's Secret, Matchbox 20 has become Orlando's biggest rock success to date. Do you remember where you were when you first heard "3 A.M."?
Working it:With the crossover smash "Smooth," vocalist Rob Thomas -- who also co-wrote the tune -- helped propel Santana's "Supernatural" to the top of the charts. Thomas recently married a model.
Outlook:"Smooth" keeps Thomas in the national consciousness and should parlay into heightened awareness for the next Matchbox 20 album, due out next year.

My Friend Steve

Current release:Released debut "Hope & Wait." in 1998.
Orlando connection:Singer-songwriter Steve Burry had been plugging away on the local scene for years as a solo artist and with The Beat Me Ups before forming My Friend Steve. Managed by Darrel Massaroni.
Working it:Band's single "Charmed" was used as theme for now-defunct WB sitcom "Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane." Currently writing material for next record, projected for May 2000 release.
Outlook:Despite Hope's dismal performance, the band should be able to rebound and make a splash with a strong second album.

'N Sync

Current release:Multiplatinum debut "'N Sync" released in 1998, sophomore release "No Strings Attached" held up by legal dispute over rights to name.
Label:RCA or Jive, depending on whose lawyers you believe.
Orlando connection:Trans Con's follow-up to Backstreet. JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake met on the set of locally produced TV show "The Mickey Mouse Club." Both Joey Fatone Jr. and Lance Bass are from Orlando.
Working it:Christmas album released in November 1998. Scored strategic duets with Alabama and Gloria Estefan ("Music Of My Heart" soundtrack). Track on the new soundtrack for "Pokémon: The First Movie."
Outlook:If they survive current legal mess intact, 'N Sync will continue to churn out hits with "No Strings Attached." Look to explore crossover potential into Latin market with good friend Luis Fonsi.

Q-Burns Abstract Message

Current release:Released debut full-length "Oeuvre" in 1998 to critical acclaim.
Orlando connection:Q-Burns (a.k.a Michael Donaldson) has been an integral part of Orlando's music, playing in bands, spinning at clubs, owning record stores and starting labels.
Working it:Toured with e-legends The Chemical Brothers, Meat Beat Manifesto and Gus Gus. Continues to work with locals. Remixed tracks by Supreme Beings of Leisure, Jim White and Rabbit in the Moon.
Outlook:Recently contributed tracks to "Earthdance" and "The Electro Lounge" compilations. He's just getting started on the next Q-Burns release, due late spring 2000

Seven Mary Three

Current release:Released third album, "Orange Ave.," in 1998.
Orlando connection:There was much debate whether this group -- the one that started it all -- as from Orlando or not (the band was away at college when "Cumbersome" took off). Managed by Darrel Massaroni.
Working it:Currently writing and recording material for its fourth studio album, projected for release in April 2000. Much-maligned sophomore effort, "Rock Crown," nearing gold status.
Outlook:Despite strong radio presence, "Orange Ave." was a huge disappointment in terms of sales. The band desperately needs to prove itself on the next record but seems up to the task.


Current release:Debut due first quarter 2000.
Orlando connection:Had been gigging steadily in Orlando area as GumWrapper Curb, building up sizeable fan base and radio play behind "You're The Girl" before changing its name. Managed by Axis publisher Sean Perry.
Working it:Currently holed up at Pachyderm -- the legendary Minnesota studio -- recording long-awaited debut with famed producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins).
Outlook:The band's profile cooled considerably during its separation from Universal label. With a new name and a more aggressive sound, they may have righted the ship.

Virgos Merlot

Current release:Released debut "Signs of a Vacant Soul" in March.
Orlando connection:Originally formed in Birmingham, Ala., the band has since set up home base here. Signed to Atlantic by local rep Steve Robertson. Managed by Orlando-based company.
Working it:Without much of a push from Atlantic, the five-piece failed to make a splash. Has since trimmed to a four-piece and adopted a different name -- The Devine -- look and sound. Bye-bye evil contact lenses.
Outlook:Their debut showed a penchant for peppering art-metal with strong pop hooks. New approach should at least give them a fighting chance at scoring a hit outside of Orlando radio.

More by Mark Padgett


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2016 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation