TLC's Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas talks Kickstarter, final album and touring with NKOTB

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BY MELISSA RUGGIERI

Chilli Thomas and TLC partner T-Boz are ready to unleash new music. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas shakes hands with an iron grip.

She might only be just over 5 feet tall, but the TLC icon is clearly not easily cowed.

At 43, she is in phenomenal shape and looks at least a decade younger, with unlined skin and a taut frame.

Thomas is wickedly funny in conversation. She’s also thoughtful and thorough as she discusses the final album she and her TLC partner Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins will release by the end of 2015.

The recording of the project will be done with the aid of crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Within days of announcing the project in January, TLC’s goal of $150,000 was reached. With a bit more than a week to go, they're close to the $300,000 mark.

TLC is Atlanta royalty, having spawned here in the ‘90s and rolled out a string of saucy hits including “No Scrubs,” “Unpretty” and “Creep.” With more than 65 million records sold, they’re tagged as the best-selling female group of all time.

Their history, including the tragic 2002 death of member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, was vividly revisited with a 2013 VH1 documentary, “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,” which has unveiled their unique combination of R&B, pop and hip-hop to a new generation.

The duo will also embark on a summer tour with New Kids on the Block and Nelly – Thomas says they’ll perform for just under an hour – and swing through Atlanta June 6 at Philips Arena.

During a recent chat at an Atlanta studio, an engaging Thomas discussed why TLC turned to Kickstarter, the musical direction of the new album and how she stays in fighting shape.

Thomas named Taylor Swift as a young performer who presents honesty in her music. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

Everyone who pledges $5 or more will be able to choose which song they want to hear remixed. It’s perfect for us because it’s organic - this is something that we want to do. Signed album covers, phone calls, leaving the voice messages.

Even though T-Boz moved west a few years ago, Thomas says Atlanta is her home. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC
Thomas says Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes will always be a part of TLC in spirit. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.  
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