BIg Mama has returned – and they’re More Mature than ever!
Big mama has Returned!
First discovered by Kyung-jin Park of M-Boat, a label under YG Entertainment, female R&B group Big Mama debuted in 2003 with four members: Yeon-ah Shin, Ji-young Lee, Young-hyun Lee and Min-hye Park.
The members each went their respective ways following their split in 2012 and returned as a group in 2021. Big Mama’s current agency is Kakao Entertainment.
Each of their vocal positions and individualities is very strong, but when they come together, the four become a stunning harmony of female vocals.
The core fundamental when the group was initially being formed was to find singers who sang really well, as well as artists who would leave a legacy of music that stood the test of time.
Big Mama was a group that challenged the Korean pop music scene at the time, which was overflowing with female artists with pretty faces and slim figures.
Of course, thankfully and luckily, Big Mama also became a commercially successful group, having sold 420 thousand copies of their first album which includes their debut song, “Break Away.”
I personally liked the group and their songs, up till the release of “여자(Yuh-Ja, Woman)” from their second album.
All four members have a soulful singing style, with a wide range of tones, from the extraordinary female contralto vocal (Ji-young Lee) to the skilled lightweight choral vocal (Yeon-ah Shin), to the the powerful belter of ultra-high notes (Young-hyun Lee), and the versatile, head voice vocal (Min-hye Park).
Rather than showcasing something new, the group simply sang phenomenally and showed that it was possible to achieve success and popularity just by sticking to the basics.
After Big Mama’s debut, the Korean pop music scene as a whole came to recognize the necessity of properly trained vocals.
Big Mama is, in fact, much more skilled in live performances rather than recordings.
It is nearly impossible for the microphone to completely and flawlessly deliver their colorful and harmonious volume and tone.
Big Mama’s biggest strength is that the intensity of emotions delivered to listeners, ranging from excitement to ecstasy, is much more amplified in live performances over digital recordings.
(Does not include singles and special albums)
Big Mama’s first album debuted with a shocking music video in February 2003 and was met with massive commercial success of 420 thousand sold copies.
“거부(Kuh-Bu, Refusal)” and “Break Away” were the two most well-known songs at the time, but “체념(Che-Nyoum, Resignation)” remains a popular favorite to this day.
Though “체념(Che-Nyoum, Resignation)” was one of Big Mama’s songs,
there were restrictions on performing it at the time, since it was originally Young-hyun Lee’s solo track.
Afterwards, a separate music video was produced and occasionally played on music broadcasts such as Mnet and KMTV.
Four out of the twelve tracks are the members’ solo songs, two are their title songs (“Break Away” and “거부”), two are covers of not-so-well-known pop songs (“His Eye Is On The Sparrow”, “Ray’s Rock House”), and the remaining four are traditional tracks.
There were many who criticized the album’s composition for “filling” it with non-title tracks, which was customary for record production at the time.
But this album had clear reasons for why each track was placed in a specific order (an aspect taken into consideration long before BTS), and since each of the members’ solo songs was one track, there was little criticism about the track list.
The album was originally scheduled to be released in February but producer Yeon-ah Shin was not satisfied with the album quality and reproduced it after disposing of all the albums being produced at the time, and used this fact as a marketing tactic.
The tracks from “여자(Yuh-ja, Woman)” up to “그 빛에 감싸여(Follow Inner Light)” have a lyrical, rainy day feel that is unique to this album, and the slow tempo songs from the tenth track, “외길(Oi-Kil, Unforked Road),” to “I Wish” also received positive appraisal.
“Again,” “여자(Yuh-Ja, Woman),” and “소리(So-ri, Sound)” were well-received by the public and “체념 후(After Resignation)” has consistently been on karaoke charts to this day, similar to “체념(Resignation)” from the first album.
Title track “Never Mind” is an exciting song that proudly made it in the medley of hit songs when Big Mama featured on YouTube channel Dingo Music’s “Killing Voice.”
Big Mama merges each member’s solo tracks as well as songs that the four members sang together since their first album.
“배반(Pae-Ban, Betrayal)” set a record of ranking second overall on music broadcast charts, even amidst the craze of “Tell Me,” a hit song by JYP’s Wonder Girls in 2007.
This was evidence that fans other than those of girl groups existed in the Korean pop music market.
The fifth album had the most unfortunate history, due to it being produced during a complicated time of conflict that stemmed from differences between the agency and the members.
There were difficulties in producing and recording this album so the general public does not know about it unless they are hardcore fans.
It became the last album to be released by the four members under the name of “Big Mama”.
(Rumor has it that they each recorded separately because their feelings were hurt due to the discord.)
When Big Mama debuted, YG was an agency that mainly dealt with mainstream, African-American-originated music such as hip-hop, R&B, and soul.
Big Mama opened the Soul Train concert with Gummy, Wheesung, and SEVEN of YG, and received great fanfare from appearances on various music programs.
Many upcoming female ballad singers at the time named Big Mama as the artist they looked up to and as a result, singers like SeeYa, Gavy NJ, and Brown Eyed Girls came to receive much attention for quite some time.
After the group disbanded, the members went on to train students as professors and the dean of the vocal department at various universities.
Then, on May 24th, 2021, news of the reunion fans had been waiting for all this time was released and on June 22nd, 2021.
The group appeared on Dingo Music’s “Killing Voice,” presenting stellar harmony as well as a more mature tone and vocalization.
This video surprised YouTube creators all over the world.
There are people who have never seen it, but is no one who has seen it once!
Big Mama’s reunion has broken stereotypes, especially those of foreign music fans who limited the K-pop genre to “idol” music.
I hope the group will continue to sing in front of fans for the next thirty years with beautiful and perfect harmony.