By JIM VARSALLONE
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001
Former WCW Nitro Girls Teri Byrne (Fyre), Melissa Bellin (Spice), Sharmell Sullivan (Paisley), Vanessa Sanchez (Tygress) and ChaeAn (Chae) have teamed to create a new music group, Diversity5.
"Diversity5 was a very well kept secret that we've been doing for a good part of the last year," Byrne said. "We came up with that name for obvious reasons -- our diverse look, someone from each ethnic background and different educational backgrounds. We've been friends and performing together for so long. We just all come together with a dynamic chemistry.
"When things took a change with the wrestling organization (and the Nitro Girls), we got a lot of feedback from fans and people in the business that we should form a music group. We kicked the idea around for some time, and finally we decided to give it a shot. So, we've been focusing on vocal lessons and singing together as a group."
Based in Atlanta, Diversity5 will draw comparisons to the Spice Girls, but these five women offer more.
"Ever since our inception as a dancing group with the wrestling organization, we were compared to the Spice Girls," Bellin said. "Now that we're singers I'm sure we will again.
"I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but there's really not going to be much of a comparison, because what we have that I don't think many groups out there have is we are diverse not only in our looks but talents, abilities and sound of our music."
The sound mirrors their look.
"Our sound came from a pop genre, and everything will start with a pop base," Bellin said. "We originated in the whole dance groove. So, we'll have that. Other songs we've been working on have more of a pop rock feel to them."
Sanchez and Sullivan have strong voices and can hit the high notes.
"We are in voice lessons every week as a group, and we also take voice lessons individually," Byrne said. "We rehearse together every week because singing and dancing at the same time is no small feat. I have newfound respect for the boy bands out there."
Byrne is schooled in keyboards and can sing bass. Bellin and Ansing are back-up.
"Maybe down the road we will become a band, too," Byrne said. "Some of us play instruments, but we play the same instruments. A couple of girls are considering playing the guitar, and we're trying to convince Chae to play the drums just because we think she will look so phenomenal playing the drums. But right now we are focusing on our voices and the sound of our music."
Diversity5 recently released atwo-song CD with the dance cut Shake Me Up and pop tune I Promise.
"We knew we could sing away from the microphone, when the pressure wasn't on," Bellin said. "Then we put it to the test in the studio -- starting to lay down some vocals and some tracks. We found out not only did we have a dynamic energy on stage dancing together and an amazing bond as friends, but the music just took it to a whole new level and completed the package."
The women sang in the car and in the dressing room during their WCW days.
"We never really considered singing until we were continually asked to do it," Byrne said. "A friend of Sharmell's who is actually in the business talked to her about it."
The songs are being sold at http://www.Diversity5.com.
"We have an attorney who has been guiding us," Byrne said. "What we've found, like anyone who has watched VH-1's Behind the Music, is it's very difficult to make money with five people in the group. What we decided to do was form our own entertainment company, Epiphany Entertainment. Epiphany because this whole concept was an epiphany to us that we would remain as a group. We realized the five of us have a chemistry together that is unstoppable.
"We incorporated ourselves and formed our own record label. After we sell so many CDs and people realize what a great sound we have, then at that point we hope to have a deal with a record company."
"Our whole concept is everybody is beautiful in their unique way, but all of us are very intelligent, educated, too," Byrne said. "One is a CPA (Sanchez). One is a chiropractor (Bellin). One speaks many languages. Sharmell Sullivan is a former Miss Black America with a math degree from Spellman. I was a cum laude graduate at Arizona State University with a finance background.
"All of us are brains and beauty, too. The last thing we want to do is put out a product that represents anything less than that. Although the poster is very hot, it is also very classy and very elegant. We're going classy all the way."
Pro wrestling columnist Jim Varsallone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.