SWV’s Coko wasn’t irritated during Verzuz battle, she was traumatized

The girl group singer witnessed a horrific event prior to the show that led to her seeming bothered during the group's appearance

Not surprisingly, the much-anticipated #VERZUZ showdown between SWV and Xscape was a ratings success over Mother’s Day weekend. But after former SWV lead singer Coko started trending for looking ‘irritated’ during the broadcast, she decided to speak up and clear the air as to why her expression looked so displeased.

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Teyana Taylor's Junie Bee Nail Salon Grand Opening
Leanne “Lelee” Lyons, Cheryl “Coko” Gamble and Tamara “Taj” Johnson of SWV attend the Junie Bee Nail Salon grand opening on February 15, 2018, in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for VH1)

At the top of the show and for much of the first half, the 50-year-old singer looked annoyed in a way that some viewers found impossible to ignore. But if you expected her to deny the observations, or assumed it was due to some discord with the other ladies on the stage, you’d be wrong on both fronts.

“Last night as I’m preparing for Verzuz, a lady was shot outside my hotel window,” Coko – born Cheryl Elizabeth Gamble, shared Sunday.

“To see & hear the four shots, see her laying on the ground and all the blood was unbelievable!!” she continued. “Thennnn…I get to the venue and had a really bad anxiety attack! Literally crying & screaming.”

The singer then went on to describe how the lingering shock from that incident and her subsequent panic attack followed her on stage.

“Yeah y’all saw me looking uncomfortable & irritated during the first half but, if it wasn’t for my son @jayyemichael @ynottamiya & @mrljb I probably wouldn’t have been out there at all,” she confessed. “Thank you for calming me down & understanding my mental. I love y’all to the fullest!! I always say most won’t care to understand but when you get those that do cherish them!!”

She ended the post with the hashtags #mentalhealth and #mentalhealthawareness.

The group’s battle with fellow 90’s girl group Xscape was among the most popular broadcasts of the series so far, which has featured battles with Snoop vs. DMX, Method Man vs. Redman, Teddy Riley vs. Babyface, Jill Scott vs. Erykah Badu, and The Isley Brothers vs. Earth, Wind, and Fire, among others.

As theGrio previously reported, despite the epic success of the Instagram Live series, co-creators Timbaland and Swizz Beatz say they’re just getting started and are planning to take Verzuz to the next level.

The superstar producers transformed their music platform from a socially distanced, live streaming project to a multi-million dollar, high production brand that has signed partnerships with high-profile businesses like Apple Music and Peloton. Recently acquired by Triller Network, Verzuz remains focused on Black artists, according to Timbaland and Swizz, who spoke exclusively with theGrio.

“I think our goal was to shine light on people that never got they flowers, like creators,” Timbaland said. “That’s why we started off with the producers and the songwriters because people don’t know that they are a big part of those songs. We was all going off the hype that we started seeing people enjoying what we were putting together. So it was the love that, to me, was the most important thing for Verzuz.”

The industry vets are now shareholders in Triller Network and have allocated part of their equity stake to artists who have appeared in past Verzuz battles, the majority of whom are Black performers.

READ MORE: SWV, Xscape celebrate ’90s R&B on latest ‘Verzuz’

Some of the artists who can now call themselves shareholders include John Legend, DMX, Alicia Keys, Ashanti, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, Too $hort, Patti LaBelle, Gucci Mane, Jeezy, E-40, D’Angelo, Ludacris, RZA, The Dream, Babyface, Nelly, Jagged Edge, Keyshia Cole, Fred Hammond, Jadakiss, Fabolous, Brandy, Monica, Gladys Knight, Teddy Riley, T-Pain, Lil Jon, Mannie Fresh, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, 112, Kirk Franklin and Sean Garrett.

Promoting and fighting for Black ownership was an essential part of their deal with Triller, according to Swizz.

“Me and Timb made [Verzuz] Black-owned,” the 42-year-old producer explained. “Now, we’ve brought 43 more Black creatives as owners and shareholders in Verzuz Triller. It’s a new day, it’s a new beginning and showing people that everybody can win. Everybody can eat. Everybody can go to the finish line with you instead of just saying, ‘Okay, thanks for coming. We’ll see you later.’ Me and Timb, we thought it was important to share everything and it’s been great. So just expect more greatness because we’re more charged up now than ever.”

Additional reporting by Mariel Turner

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