This is the 22nd post in a biweekly series. Read about the series — and just what we mean by “freestyle music” — here. Freestyle Fridays post on the first and third Fridays of each month. 


The Cover Girls’ Because of You,” written by David Cole, was the third release from their debut album, “Show Me,” and  reached Number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1988.

The Cover Girls was formed in 1986 by music producer and songwriter Andy Panda Tripoli and music promoter and dance club owner Sal Abbatiello. The group was originally composed of singers Louise “Angel” Sabater (later known as Angel Clivillés), Caroline Jackson and Sunshine Wright. “Show Me” was released  in late 1986, and five singles were released from the album.

From there, The Cover Girls fall into the now-expected pattern of girl groups put together by producers: lots and lots of personnel changes. Starting in 1987, various members left, were replaced, re-joined, and split off to perform together in different configurations of The Cover Girls, such as “The Original Cover Girls.” In all, there have been nine members of the group since its inception. It all gets pretty murky, and very shady.

Much of the shade seems to be surrounding original member Louise “Angel” Sabater, also known as Angel Clivillés, who, in 1990, became the second member to leave the group for a solo career. If her last name seems familiar, combine it with “Because of You” songwriter David Cole: Angel married David Cole’s collaborator in C+C Music Factory, Robert Clivillés. After leaving The Cover Girls, Angel’s solo career never took off, so she fell back on using The Cover Girls name. Today, she tours using the name, “Angel (The Original CoverGirl)” (sic).  She and Robert Clivillés divorced, and she’s now married to La’ Entertainment’s founder & owner Latif Mercado.

Now, without taking a position, let’s take a quick look at La’ Entertainment — a talent agency/booking company that organizes large freestyle concerts, and represents several freestyle artists, such as Lisette Melendez, as well as “The Original Cover Girls” and “Angel, The Original CoverGirl.” It’s these last two acts both featuring Mercado’s wife Angel  that have embroiled Mercado and La’ Entertainment in controversy. First, original co-creator of The Cover Girls, Sal Abbatiello, claims to have the trademark on the name “The Cover Girls,” which probably explains why Mercado’s acts have slightly different names. Other accusations of shady business practices whirl around La’ Entertainment, and Angel and Latif Mercado have taken to confronting their critics via Facebook posts and YouTube videos. I am not going to link to any of these accusations or counter-accusations; just know that there is an ongoing flame war between “real freestyle,” “freestyle phonies,” and “the REAL freestyle phonies.” There may be just as many variations on “phonies” as there are Cover Girls splinter groups.

It’s an unpleasant way to end a post about a sunny, fun song  a great favorite of mine.

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