What Ever Happened to: City High

It’s good to be back in town after a week or so in the motherland of Virginia. It’s always great reconnecting with friends and fam.

But sadly, every silver lining has a cloud. Y’all know how it goes. Joy … and pain/sun-shine… and rain.

Every single time I go on vacation, well-known celebrities kick the bucket. It’s the Vacation Curse. I have the blood of Bernie Mac, Nate Dogg, Teena Marie, Gerald Levert and many others on my hands. My bad.

This past week was no different – Andre 3000 and Bruno Mars lost their moms, Edith Bunker from All In the Family went on to reunite with Archie, and for you Game of Thrones fans, nearly the entire House of Stark got murked as well.

It was all good just a week ago.

Anyway, on to cheerier news. One of the joys of my time off was catching up on my favorite reality show, TVOne’s R&B Divas. It features some of the industry’s most underrated and forgotten singers (actually, the very people I spotlight in this column) as they try to regain their footing in the industry. The show has become so popular that a spinoff, R&B Divas LA, will launch this summer.

Included in that cast will be Claudette Ortiz of City High.

Lord, she’s STILL fine. But what happened to her group mates? I have the scoop.

As the 20th century came to a close, Claudette and her high school sweetheart Robby Pardlo realized their dreams. They met and wowed Fugees founder Wyclef Jean with their talents, leading him to sign them to his label as the duo, get this, Wooga Booga.

And you thought City High was a weird name.

Anyway, the pair eventually were joined by Ryan Toby (aka, the dude from Sister Act 2), and the City High you know and love was born.

City High’s first single “What Would You Do?” appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Life in 1999. And I’ll be real with y’all, that song got on my last nerves.

“What would you do if your son was at home/Cryin’ all alone on the bedroom floor/’Cuz he’s hungry, and the only way to feed him/Is to sleep with a man for a little bit of money…”

I would get a job, turn to my friends or fam, go on welfare, SOMETHING other than prostitution and stripping.

No offense to you skrippers and ladies of the evening. You keep my blog alive.

Now before y’all start drenching my inbox with your haterade, I do get the point of the song. You can’t judge someone’s situation by outward appearances. Still, it always came off as making excuses. The song never mentioned anything about the woman getting denied for legit jobs, for instance.

Well, it doesn’t matter what I think (word to the Rock) because “What Would You Do?” climbed all the way to No. 8 on Billboard. It was a certified hit.

City High’s self-titled debut dropped in 2001, which included their follow-up, “Caramel.” Forget “What Would You Do?” this was by far City High’s greatest moment. It wasn’t as successful as “What Would You Do?” (reaching only No. 18 on Billboard) but it’s easily their signature song. Claudette’s airy vocals MADE that track and was her breakout moment. I was in love, y’all.

Their third single, the uplifting “City High Anthem,” went largely forgotten. Still, City High’s debut went gold. Not a bad showing.

Afterward, City High shot a series of short videos to promote a couple of seasons of The Real World in ’02. Then, like Wyclef’s hairline, they simply vanished. What happened? Well…

Remember earlier when I mentioned that Claudette and Pardlo were dating? After they broke up, Claudette dated and later MARRIED their fellow group mate Toby. There was no way the group would survive that. Usually I’m against homie-hoppin’ but we’re talking about Claudette here, I can’t blame Toby for making his move. They divorced in 2007.

Claudette tried to embark on a solo career, appearing with Clef on “Two Wrongs,” and dropping “Can’t Get Enough” (with Pastor Ma$e of all people) in 2006. She also had a track called “Simply Amazing” a few years back but I never heard of it until researching for this column. Sounds like a Destiny’s Child track.

Meanwhile, poor Pardlo was caught in the grips of alcoholism and was featured on A&E’s Intervention series in 2010. Last we heard, he was recovering well.

Should They Come Back?: As a group? Playa please. Those three have had enough incestuous drama to last them a lifetime. However, Claudette never got a fair shake a stardom and this is the perfect time for a comeback. I’d love to see more of her.

HEAR. I’d love to HEAR more from her. Lord, Claudette’s about to break up my happy home.

For more on your favorite forgotten artists, visit our “What Ever Happened to…” archive. 

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9 Comments

  1. Ryan Toby must have written his own Wikipedia page!

  2. You ain’t lying. It’s more detailed than Brian McKnight’s.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Hey Edward,
    Does anyone know where Robby is NOW? Whether he is sober or not. I just watched Intervention and cannot find anything more or past that.
    I hope he kept his shit straight for that baby who is what? 7 now!? He had a lot of love and support that a million people would wish for.

    Thanks!
    Deb

  5. I just came across this blog when searching to see whatever happened to City High. OMG! I’m a 60 yr old, straight, white woman and I have to agree with you…….. we need more Claudette!!! Her voice is simple beautiful! What a shame of the music industry overlook such a talent!

  6. Actually he works as a corrections officer in Philadelphia in a place called community education center its a jail slash therapeutic community unfortunately i was there in 2014 for about a year and he was by far the nicest employee there

  7. Ra Shawn Da-Professor September 17, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Roby is still active in the music industry. He’s writing and producing for other artists and he released his solo debut on I-Tunes. He co-wrote Noel Gourdin’s 2011 Award-winning single Beautiful

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