Irish Grinstead, a member of the R&B trio 702, best known for their 1999 hit, “Where My Girls At?,” died on Saturday. She was 43.
Her sister and bandmate LeMisha Fields announced the death in an Instagram post. It provided no other details. The group announced in December that Ms. Grinstead was taking a “medical leave of absence due to serious medical issues.”
The Grinstead sisters and Kameelah Williams made up 702, which was named for the telephone area code in Las Vegas, where they were from.
The group’s 1996 debut album, “No Doubt,” included a song called “Steelo,” featuring the rapper, singer and producer Missy Elliott. A version of the track was the theme song for the Nickelodeon show “Cousin Skeeter.” (The song was also sampled in a 2019 dance music hit, “On My Mind,” produced by Diplo.)
“Where My Girls At?” was 702’s defining hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1999. It appeared on their second album, “702,” and it was written and produced by Missy Elliott, who “was a big player in our success,” Ms. Fields told The Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2014. Ms. Grinstead was 18 when it was released.
The song, a thumping, danceable number with sweet harmonizing by the trio, carries lyrics warning off a female romantic rival. But the song’s refrain — its title — sounds as much like a young woman’s expression of need for her friends.
“Although the group is not often remembered as much as some of their ’90s counterparts” — among them Destiny’s Child and TLC — “the singing trio had a huge influence on the culture of R&B music,” Vibe magazine wrote in 2018.
Irish Beatrice Grinstead was born on June 2, 1980, in Harris, Texas, to Carlton and Theresa (Washington) Grinstead.
She began singing around the age of 10. With LeMisha and Irish’s twin sister, Orish, they performed at sports events and other venues in Las Vegas, where the sisters had grown up. They occasionally sang at Caesars Palace, the hotel and casino. The comedian Sinbad saw them there and encouraged them to go to Atlanta for a music convention.
During that event they cornered the musician and producer Michael Bivins in a hotel lobby and persuaded him to give them a chance. He did, supplied them with their band name as well and signed them to a record contract. All three were still in their teens.
But before the trio recorded their first album, Orish dropped out, making room for Ms. Williams, a friend of the Grinstead girls since the 6th grade.
“People are asking me for my autograph,” Irish told The Review-Journal in wonderment in 1999, “and we were just talking to each other at school.”
The group released its last album, “Star,” in 2003 and broke up soon after. They resumed doing shows more recently, with several scheduled through the rest of this year.
Complete information on Ms. Grinstead’s survivors was not available. Orish Grinstead died in 2008, according to IMDb.
“It was a whirlwind,” their sister Ms. Fields told The Review-Journal in 2014, looking back at her group’s stardom. “We toured all over the world and met artists like Whitney Houston and Diana Ross. The life that we lived was almost like a dream.”
Kirsten Noyes contributed research.