Adina Howard Admits To The Love Triangle That Ended Her Career
Jan 29 2021
Long before contemporary female artists like Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B were rising to the top of the music charts with bold, assertive tunes that celebrated women's sexuality, there was a whole crop of performers that were breaking down barriers with the same kind of no-holds-barred bravado. The '90s in particular saw an explosion of female artists who felt empowered to buck convention and talk openly about getting busy in their music and on stage. And, in 1995, few of them were as popular as R&B singer Adina Howard.
Arriving on the scene around the same time that raunchy rappers like Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown began to give the boys a run for their money, Howard shook up the industry with her funky breakout single "Freak Like Me," which left very little doubt about what kind of person she was. Howard's flirty debut single shot to platinum status, and she quickly became one of the hottest and most promising new acts in popular music.
Her meteoric rise would soon come crashing down though, and the musician's fast flameout was directly attributable to a love triangle with some very popular musical stars of the day. Though she, in some ways, laid a blueprint new singers still follow today, Howard's messy romantic life ultimately stopped her career short, and she hasn't been as relevant since. Here's what really happened.
The drama started when Adina Howard, a new darling of the music industry in the '90s, had an affair with Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men, which was already a massively popular group. There was just one snag though. As detailed in the docuseries Unsung, Morris was already attached to someone else, and that someone was Brandy, a much bigger, more bankable star than Howard, and a celebrity with a squeaky clean image that was the polar opposite of Howard's unapologetic style. Howard says in the episode,
"Two young ladies, a lot of their egos get in the way and were kind of going through it about a guy."
When whispers about Howard and Morris' fling reached the ears of high-powered music executive, Sylvia Rhone, who also just so happened to be Howard's boss, the love triangle got even more complex and complicated. Unbeknownst to Howard at the time, she was about to make some regrettable choices that would put her fate and entire career on the line, ending in disastrous results for her. Rhone is widely regarded as the most influential woman in the music business ever, so when Howard made the mistake of crossing her, she learned the hard way that making an enemy at the executive level can have consequences that no amount of talent, drive, or buzz could ever fix.
According to Howard's episode of Unsung, after Rhone heard about Adina Howard and Wanya Morris' tryst, she spoke with the singer and implored her to let the relationship go and focus on her career. However, Howard didn't want to take the advice, and word of the situation became the talk of the town. Wendy Williams, then a radio DJ and gossip queen on New York's station Hot 97, heard about it and called Howard, which is when Howard changed the course of her life. Producer Billy Moss said in the Unsung episode,
"[Howard] had some choice words in there for Sylvia and for Brandy. That pissed Sylvia off, she was on fire."
When Rhone heard what Howard said about her, she allegedly decided to end Howard's career, stalling the release of the artist's second album indefinitely.
From the sounds of it, Howard learned a valuable, painful lesson about biting the hand that feeds you.
Howard's story is a cautionary tale for up-and-coming artists and basically everybody who has to answer to a boss. You might not like what they have to say, but if you know what's good for you, you'll think carefully about how you respond.
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