assionate is one word to describe Fallon King and Felisha King-Harvey, an in-demand songwriting and production duo, professionally known as members of Cherish.
On the summer’s hottest television show BET Presents: The Encore, the pair displayed this fierce quality throughout ten episodes, constantly defending their proven song placements that have allowed them each to sustain cultivating careers behind the boards after Cherish split up in 2009.
Calling for respect as a woman in a highly competitive, male-dominated industry in the music mansion day in and day outweighed heavily on both sisters, especially Felisha. Amid the chaos in the house, she was planning a wedding that happened three weeks after the show wrapped.
The Encore started with nine women from different R&B girl groups and solo artists, including Irish Grinstead and LeMisha Fields (702), Aubrey O’Day (Danity Kane), and Nivea living under one roof.
Unfortunately, after many voluntary exits, the show ended with only five women standing: Pamela Long (of Total), Shamari DeVoe (Blaque), Kiely Williams (3LW), Fallon, and Felisha.
Together known as R&B supergroup BluPrint, they released their self-titled project ahead of the series finale. Featuring a guest appearance from Long, who is not a current group member, the quartet put the six-track EP’s sonic direction mainly in the hands of Fallon and Felisha who have crafted radio-dominating sound for artists like Justin Bieber and DaniLeigh.
In our interview with the sister duo, they talk about BET Presents: The Encore, how they define respect, what inspires them to write, Cherish days and more.
On BET Presents: The Encore, there were many disagreements in the house. However, there were good times, too. One included the coaching and mentoring to the ladies in the house when it came to pushing them to their potential. Are there any women in the music industry who served as your mentor?
Felisha: Me and Fallon have this conversation often. I always say, “I wish we had more female mentors in our lives.” It was always males trying to steer our career, tell us what to do and what kind of music we should do. We became producers ourselves because it was very male-dominated [and] we always kind of had to be there for each other. We always had to be each other’s mentors. Of course, a lot of artists have taught us a lot. Watching Beyoncé’s career, Rihanna’s career, and all of these other amazing females definitely helped. As far as personal, I would say it’s been a lot of each other.
Fallon: Growing up, we’ve had a lot of male mentors. Like Felisha said, it wasn’t too many women that we kind of hone in on us. People like Manual Seal helped us develop our writing and taught us how to write. He did “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey and “You Make Me Wanna…” by Usher and so many hits I can’t even name. Then, of course, looking at Diane Warren and listening to how she writes music. We have mentors that were not hands-on, but we watched from afar like, “This is what I aspire [to be]. This is what I want to be a part of.”
Who are some women that you’d like to work with?
Fallon: Toni Braxton. I would love to work with Mariah [Carey].
Felisha: Mary [J. Blige]. I want to work with Missy Elliott. I don’t think I could upgrade her sound because she’s the greatest but definitely would love to work with her.
Fallon: We’d love to be a part of [Missy’s] greatness. I’ll work with all of the legends.
Respect seemed to be a recurring theme when disagreements arose on the show. What does respect look like to you both as women in music?
Felisha: One-hundred percent equality. Speaking on The Encore, you can tell that some women were okay with a man coming in and telling them what to do. As long as the man was telling them what to do, it was okay. The moment we spoke up about something, they didn’t want to listen. We were conditioned that when a man steps into the room, he’s superior, and this is who we need to listen to. When we screamed or talked about respect, it was more about the equality overall of everyone in the room. It’s not their fault, though.
Fallon: Every woman has dealt with it. You just kind of get shooed off without being shooed off. When Felisha and I speak up, it gets to the point where [it’s] like, “Oh, angry Black woman. She’s too difficult. She needs to get laid.” It’s been said so many different things, and it’s just like, “Wait, but you didn’t see the blatant disrespect.” Honestly, I don’t pretend like they could see all of it because it was reality TV, and it was what it looked like. There was so much that happened that no one got to see. Unfortunately, that was the main issue with how we came off. But equality. That’s all we want.
Another thing people may not know about you two is that many of your songwriting placements were on television: Star and Empire. How is this process different for you guys, considering those songs are tailored for fictional characters versus conventional artists?
Felisha: The biggest difference is they’re very specific in sync of what they want. They’ll give us a synopsis of an idea of what part of the show is happening, and this is the kind of song we need, and you have to perform that immediately, almost to the T of what they want. Whereas when you work with an artist or work on your own album or other things, it’s more creative. You have free reign over how you want it to sound and get to do what you want.
Fallon: Sync is really fun because it’s kind of like you’re writing a script out of this music. It’s just like, “Okay, we need a club scene, and it needs to sound like Mary J’s, whatever,” and we’d be like, “All right, let’s make a bomb record.”
Cherish was one of the most popular girl groups of the ‘00s. Many people may not know that you had recorded an album under the Warner Records imprint ahead of Unappreciated. What caused the album to be shelved?
Felisha: The music industry is finicky as hell. We started young, so we had a jumpstart earlier than most people. We had a few record deals. We were signed to Frank Thomas when he started a label called Undeniable. Me and Fallon were like eight. Then we signed with Yab Yum, a part of LaFace, which was Babyface’s wife’s company. Then we were with Jermaine Dupri for a while — that’s when we were signed to Warner Brothers Records.
I feel like [with] the album, it was just timing. I remember we recorded “Miss Pimp.” Kandi wrote that and then Da Brat jumped on it. It was a nice little run. People love the record. I just think at the time, we were young and kind of not even marketable in a sense because it’s like, “They’re kids.”
At that time, it was different. Now, these kids are cursing, and they’re doing all kinds of shit and saying whatever they want at this point. Luh Kel has a record out now called “F Love,” and he’s only 17, but back then, it was a thing to be wholesome and not be as flamboyant as these children are now. So I think at the time, it was just like, “Where do they fit in when it comes to their age?” So that’s probably why the album didn’t come out. That’s just my thoughts on it.
Was any of the music from the shelved album on Unappreciated?
Fallon: For about two and a half years we weren’t signed. We ended up doing “Do It To It” before we even got a record deal. Me and Felicia and our [sister] Farrah wrote that in our bedroom. We had Ludacris, who was [DJ] Chris Luva Luva and Poon Daddy, who were the radio personalities at Hot 107.9 (then Hot 97.5) at the time spinning “Do It To It.” About two weeks later we got a deal.
Felisha: It was huge. It was an instant hit.
Fallon: But “Miss P” was definitely something that I still feel like is in the vault, but people should listen to.
You two have always had a hand in the songwriting of Cherish songs. Was that a stipulation mapped out ahead of recording?
Fallon: I think that it was. It was definitely well-known when we wrote “Do It To It” because that was the first single, and that’s what we got a record deal off of. The labels were like, “You guys are amazing writers. You guys can write your own music.” At the same time, all of us are sisters. We thought that was organic. If that sisterhood is there, we gotta make it our sound instead of getting a producer or another writer that does five other groups so that we can have the same type of music. We felt like that was something that we wanted to give to our fans as well, that this is completely organic.
Looking back on your time as Cherish, what memories stick out when you think about your debut and sophomore album The Truth?
Fallon: Some of our biggest records or our favorite records, which were “Amnesia” and “Unappreciated,” came to us so organically — “Do It To It” as well. Then when we were able to do “Killa” and do the whole movie with Step Up (2: The Streets) when all of our music started getting synchronized and all of that. It was an incredible moment.
If there’s one era in music history that deserves more attention, it’s the crunk era, which you two, along with your two sisters, were a part of with Ciara, Lil Jon and others. What was it like helping to pioneer a sound that we’ll never forget or get again?
Fallon: It was some of my favorite moments. It was fun. Now everything is so serious, but then, we just had a good time.
Felisha: The funny thing is we’re from Atlanta. We were born and raised off of the Atlanta-driven sound, the crunk era, the snap era. We were little kids in the basement, being a part of the creative process. It was natural for us. You can hear it through the music. It was some of the best times in music because people were innovative. To be a part of creating something that has such a huge part of history means a lot.
Who are you working with now?
Felisha: There’s a lot of projects that we get introduced to all the time. I’m about to start working with [B.] Harv and Fallon on some Normani stuff. [Justin] Bieber’s working on his next album, so we’re tackling that. A lot of sync stuff right now. Harv and I and Fallon are working on the Trolls  soundtrack. There’s a record on Disney+ coming out on a movie called Sneakerella.
Fallon: We’re also working on our own music as well.
When can we expect new music from you two?
Felisha: Fallon and I have been pulled and tugged in so many different directions. So many people [are] demanding Fallon’s album and demanding mine and us together and then demanding Cherish. We really just have to find time to do it all. So, you can expect some music soon.
Fallon: The music is pretty much done (laughs).