R&B star Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas talks hitting the road again with T-Boz this summer and taking part in Live Nation's National Concert Week

By Hanna Flanagan
May 03, 2019 03:35 PM
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2019 marks the 20-year anniversary of TLC’s second album Fanmail, and the legendary R&B groups’ lead singer Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas can hardly believe how fast the time has passed.

“My son [Tron, now 21] was 2 when ‘No Scrubs’ was out. It’s so crazy,” Thomas tells PEOPLE exclusively of their catchy 1999 hit about spotting and thwarting undesirable suitors. “When you’re in the midst of it, you’re not thinking about [the milestones]. You don’t realize until you hear about that kind of stuff.”

The iconic girl group is heading back out on tour this summer and through Live Nation’s National Concert Week offering fans a chance at $20 tickets to their shows.

Since TLC took the music charts by storm (first in 1992 with their debut album Ooooooohhh...On the TLC Tip; and two years later with CrazySexyCool), the “Waterfalls” singer has experienced several ups and downs — especially the tragic loss of band member Lisa ‘Left-Eye’ Lopes and a very public breakup from Usher in 2003.

61st Annual GRAMMY Awards - GRAMMY Celebration
Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins and Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas of TLC in February
| Credit: Alison Buck/Getty

But through it all, she’s found a rock in TLC’s Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, who made headlines after opening up about her debilitating sickle-cell anemia diagnosis. This summer, the longtime friends will hit the road again — along with Nelly and Flo Rida — for a totally nostalgic summer concert series.

“That’s my sister. We are stuck at the hip,” Thomas tells PEOPLE of Watkins. “She’s doing all the stuff she needs to do to keep herself healthy. She’s great. I already know [the tour] is going to be great. It’s going to be so much fun. I can’t wait.”

TLC in 1999
| Credit: Jim Smeal/WireImage

So, what exactly does the 2019 version of a TLC concert entail? Thomas promises that not much has changed. While the logistics of touring are different with social media and promotion, the R&B singer says, on stage, it’s the same high-energy performance ’90s TLC fans know and love. She adds, “We take being on the road and our shows very, very seriously.”

Luckily for fans, the music is just as good as ever — but this time around, with 20-plus years in the industry under her belt, Thomas is a bit wiser.

“You just can’t allow your feelings to get so involved with business,” Thomas tells PEOPLE. “You have to think with your head, not with your heart. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I got my feelings hurt a few times but I learned quickly. I recovered!”

| Credit: Dayo x Chilli

The self-proclaimed “alpha chick” says the culture of the music business only helped her realize how tough she really is.

“Sometimes when you are going through stuff, you don’t feel very strong,” Thomas says. “I think that’s okay and I think that’s very normal. But you can’t allow anything that you go through that’s negative to take over your life. I’m naturally a very strong woman.”

A true test of her strength was the loss of Lopes, who died in a car crash in April 2002.

“It was a pain I’d never felt in my life,” Thomas told PEOPLE in 2017. “It took a long time to think of her in the past tense. That was a part of my grieving time, and it took a long time.”

RELATED VIDEO: TLC Plans to Create Final Album with Help from Fans

Thomas hinted that fans will appreciate the way she and Watkins commemorate Lopes in their upcoming shows. She says TLC always pay tribute to the Philadelphia native, whose fast-paced raps added a distinctive sound to the R&B band, because, as Thomas put it, “Why wouldn’t we?”

“We definitely come up with fun ways to make sure her presence is there,” Thomas says of TLC shows. “The fans love it because they loved her.”

And they never once considered changing the group’s name, which is an acronym made from the first letter of their three stage names.

“We’re forever TLC, no matter what,” Thomas previously told PEOPLE. “We worked really hard building this brand together. Remember when Prince didn’t want anybody calling him Prince anymore, and everybody was like, ‘It’s Prince!’”

TLC, Nelly and Flo Rida hit the stage this summer. $20 tickets are on sale now as part of Live Nation’s National Concert Week, which concludes May 7.