A Great Musical Family’s Story Emerges

At long last, the story of the legendary DeBarge family is being told. Vibe magazine's October issue features "Broken Dreams," an outstanding look into the widely chronicled trials and tribulations of the Grand Rapids, Michigan-bred siblings.

Michael A. Gonzales captures the meteoric rise of Switch and DeBarge through a series of candid interviews with many of the individuals who lived it, including Bunny DeBarge, family matriarch Etterlene DeBarge and Swtich member Gregory Williams. The saga behind the glowing smiles and gold records is indeed a tragic one, as tales of drug addiction, a father's abuse and legal woes offer a vivid portrait of one of R&B's most underrated outfits beyond glorious hit singles like "Time Will Reveal" and "Rhythm of the Night."

The article is particularly timely given recent reports of El and Chico DeBarge's
brushes with the law: El was recently arrested for domestic abuse and
Chico faces charges surrounding drugs and a large sum of cash being
found in his car. The incidents sent the black blogosphere into
overdrive with questions about what is happening with the talented clan.

the family's troubles, few can deny the potency of the DeBarge family
canon. Switch classics like "There'll Never Be," "I Call Your Name" and
"Love Over and Over Again" have aged like fine wine, while DeBarge's
stamp on the hip-hop generation stands strong. Their third Gordy album,
the Grammy-nominated gold seller "In a Special Way" is one of the most
referenced LPs in hip-hop history, with "Stay With Me" and "A Dream"
providing the foundation for the remix of the Notorious B.I.G.'s "One
More Chance" and Tupac's "I Ain't Mad at Cha" respectively.

October issue of Vibe is on newsstands now. The magazine is also
featuring the story at its Web site in a four-part series. You can read
the first three parts at

The Rise and Fall of the DeBarge Family:
[Episode 1] [Episode 2] [Episode 3]

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4 Responses

  1. This looks intriguing & I am looking forward to checking it out. It seems Motown, while pioneers in great music, seems to dick their artists over, again & again. Bunny is FIERCE. Quentin.

  2. Man, I was jammin' Switch and DeBarge in high school and college. I had the All This Love album cover on my nightstand, *blushes*. I was a stan for James til Janet stole him from me, lol.
    I will be reading all installments of this series as I've heard the rumors and whispers but want to know what really went down.
    ITA on them being underrated, so many artists have sampled their music and it still sounds good 20 years later.
    I hope El & Chico's situation works out. The DeBarges are talented but it seems that they've paid a very high price for it. I wish them peace and love.

  3. I'm a huge Switch and DeBarge fan. I'm so glad to see Vibe stepping up and covering this story instead of chasing around the here today/gone tomorrow acts they normally credit as the second coming. Thanks for breaking us off Soulbounce!

  4. Can you believe that I didn't know that Janelle Monae's version of "Time Will Reveal" was a cover? I feel so ashamed to admit that. I dig her version so much that I had to go back and unearth the original, and I must say wOw. Whatta great song, period. No matter who covers it, it will be groovalicious.
    Wouldn't it be tasty if Janet really did birth James' baby? The musical legacy that child would've been born with would be unparalled in R&B history.


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