In our everyday experience of life, the absolute worst tragedy has to be death. Of course, accidental or sudden death that catches us off guard, may depress us a little more than death after a long illness. We also might view the death of children with more sadness than the death of older ones. However, most persons I speak with on the subject are particularly disturbed by the death of young, promising musicians before their talent is fully realized. It seems as if we all were deprived of something and someone very special. I’m sure we all can recall countless talented people who were cut down too soon in our eyes. We can only imagine the feelings of loss suffered by those musicians who worked closely with a deceased band mate. That pain of loss sometimes ends the music making. Although we have witnessed many artists leave a group, sometimes after bitter disputes, the loss of that contemporary in death can be too much to bear. Even though they may really want to continue, the hearts may be too heavy with grief to remain creatively active following the loss. The music world is dealing with a similar type of loss after the tragic death last month of G.R.L band member Simone Battle.
Unless you are very young or a music industry insider you might be unfamiliar with G.R.L., therefore I will provide some background information about this young, all female singing group. The roots of G.R.L. lie with dancer, choreographer, and Pussycat Dolls creative director Robin Antin, who was looking to work with highly talented singers and dancers for a new group. She had already selected Lauren Bennett and the rest of G.R.L. came together over the last two years. “We didn’t stop searching until we found the right girls,” said Antin.
The group held their first live performances on September 28, 2013 at Westfield Old Orchard Claire’s in Skokie, Illinois and performed three songs: “Vacation”, “Girls Are Always Right”, and “Show Me What You Got”. With the start of 2014, the group would begin a whirlwind of major events. G.R.L. was featured on Pitbull’s single, “Wild Wild Love”, which was released on February 25, 2014. On March 14, the group performed at the iTunes Festival at SXSW, opening for Zedd and Pitbull. On June 3, 2014, the group released their debut single, “Ugly Heart”, and peaked at number two in Australia and four in New Zealand. Following the release of “Ugly Heart”, they released their debut EP G.R.L. on July 29, 2014. It included “Ugly Heart”, “Show Me What You Got”, and new songs, “Rewind”, “Don’t Talk About Love”, and “Girls Are Always Right”.
The consensus opinion of music industry insiders is that G.R.L is on the rise toward a major breakthrough worldwide. I would definitely agree with them. In fact, upon hearing the E.P I think the group will easily exceed the success of predecessors Pussycat Dolls. In my opinion G.R.L. has more to offer vocally which could give producers opportunity to develop a sound that would have true international appeal. G.R.L also seems to be growing closer vocally as well as off stage. Group member Lauren Bennett said. “The chemistry between these five girls is perfect. We have a really solid bond. We absolutely love, respect, and inspire each other.” I could feel their closeness through interviews conducted with the group earlier this year. Working together does not automatically bring any group of people together, but I credit Robin Antin with looking deeper into personalities that would mesh. There were several personnel changes along the way, but that is to be expected when undertaking a project of this scope.
All seemed to be going along smoothly until early last month, when G.R.L. member Simone Battle was found dead in her apartment. As with any major news items, twitter was set ablaze with messages surrounding the news of Battle’s death. This would without doubt be an enormous blow to the remaining group members. The other members of G.R.L describe Simone as “the brainy one.” “I can go to Simone if I need advice or help and will always get the answer that I’m looking for,” said Lauren Bennett.
As with any death of someone so young, (Simone was twenty-five) naturally following the initial shock are questions as to what happened. How did she die? Not too much time passed before news broke that Simone Battle committed suicide. I followed many of the comments and saw that some became defensive, not seeking to judge young Battle so soon after her death. I did not offer comment at the time and could understand the sensitive nature of such discussions moments, and even a few days after death. Even now I do not mention her suicide as a means of judgment upon her. However, because her death came by way of suicide it does add more sadness to the grief. Any death would leave the sting of grief upon the remaining group members, but the suicide leaves them with questions about things that could have been done to prevent the tragedy. It also leaves the huge question as to continuing on as a group. As of right now it would seem that the plans are to continue as a quartet, but the larger question revolves around the ability of the remaining group members to continue. I think the young ladies will in time muster up the courage and forge ahead with heavy hearts and fond memories of Battle. The reason I feel this way can be found in the official twitter statement made by the group. “Words cannot express the depth of our loss. Simone’s incredible talent was only surpassed by the size of her heart. We will carry her memory with us in everything we do.”