The three members of the New York, USA-based Sweetback first worked together as backing band to soul chanteuse Sade. However, with that artist taking an extended sabbatical from the music business, Stewart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Denman decided to continue their association together as Sweetback. The project began to coalesce in 1994, shortly after Sade had completed her Love Deluxe world tour. Matthewman built his own studio in New York, releasing a series of 12-inch dance singles under names such as Cottonbelly and Edge Test. He also produced and co-wrote three songs for Maxwell’s breakthrough debut album, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite. In the interim Hale and Denman kept busy by recording music for fashion shows and clothing shops. In 1996, after months of exchanging tapes, the three recruited singers Maxwell, Bahamadia and Amel Larrieux of Groove Theory and entered the studio to record Sweetback’s self-titled debut for Epic Records. With musical textures ranging from trad-soul (‘You Will Rise’), to house (‘Cloud People’), the album’s succulent eclecticism and sophisticated musicianship won over critics from a variety of genres.