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Sheena Easton (born Sheena Shirley Orr; 27 April 1959) is a Scottish recording artist. Easton first came into the public eye as the focus of an episode in the British television programme The Big Time, which recorded her attempts to gain a record contract and her eventual signing with EMI Records.
In the United States, Easton is a two-time Grammy Award winner and achieved 6 Gold albums and 1 Platinum and has sold over 4 million albums in the US alone, and over 20 million records worldwide. She has recorded 16 studio albums, released 45 singles, and has 15 Top 40 hits on the US Billboard Hot 100. Sheena Easton is the only artist in the history of the US Billboard charts to have a top 3 hit on each of the Billboards key charts consecutively: Adult Contemporary, Dance, Pop, Country, Rock and R&B. In the UK, Easton has had 3 top 40 albums and 8 top 40 singles to date.
Easton rose to fame in the early 1980s with the pop hits "9 to 5" (known as "Morning Train" in the United States), "For Your Eyes Only", "Strut", "Sugar Walls", "U Got the Look" with Prince, and "The Lover in Me". She went on to become successful in the United States and Japan, working with prominent vocalists and producers, such as Prince, Christopher Neil, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, David Foster, Luis Miguel, L.A. Reid and Babyface, Patrice Rushen, and Nile Rodgers.
Early life[edit source | edit]Edit
Easton was born Sheena Shirley Orr in the Scottish town of Bellshill, the youngest of six children to steel mill labourer Alex Orr and his wife Annie. She had two brothers (Robert and Alex) and three sisters (Marilyn, Annessa and Morag). Her earliest known public performance as a singer was at the age of five (in 1964), when she sang "Early One Morning" for her uncle and aunt and various relatives at the couple's 25th wedding anniversary celebration.
Easton's father died in 1969 and her mother had to support the family. Easton's website states that despite her mother's heavy workload she was always available for her children: "Sheena always speaks very highly of her mum and the wonderful job she did in bringing up her and her siblings, including teaching them all to read at home before they were even enrolled in school."
Easton did not consider a singing career until viewing the movie The Way We Were, with Barbra Streisand. Streisand's singing over the opening credits "overtook" the young girl and convinced her that what she wanted most was to be a singer and to have the same effect on others. Her top grades in school earned her a scholarship to attend the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, where she trained from 1975 to 1979 as a speech and drama teacher by day, while singing with a band called "Something Else" by night at local clubs. She chose to study teaching rather than performing, because it was a course of study that would let her perfect her craft as a singer.
In 1979, she married Sandi Easton, the first of her four husbands. They divorced after eight months, and Sheena decided to keep the surname Easton. That year, one of her Academy tutors coaxed her into auditioning for Esther Rantzen, producer of the BBC programme The Big Time. Rantzen was planning a documentary film to chronicle a relative unknown's rise to pop-music stardom. Easton was selected as the subject for the programme, where she metLulu (another Scottish singer), who told her that she was unlikely to make the "big time". Within a year of the programme airing, Sheena Easton proved Lulu wrong as EMI executives awarded her a contract, and Christopher Neil was assigned as her recording producer. Deke Arlon became her first manager, and Easton spent much of 1980 being followed by camera crews, who filmed her throughout the process of making her first EMI single, "Modern Girl".
Career[edit source | edit]Edit
1981–83: "9 to 5", James Bond, Take My Time[edit source | edit]Edit
Her first single, the disco-tinged soft-synth-pop tune, "Modern Girl", was released in the UK before the show aired and reached #56. At the end of the show, Easton was still unsure of her future as a singer. The question was soon resolved when, after the show aired, her second single, "9 to 5", reached #3 on the UK Singles Chart in 1980. "Modern Girl" re-entered the chart subsequently and climbed into the top 10, and Easton found herself with two songs in the top 10 simultaneously. During the year 1980, Sheena was voted "Best British Female Singer" by the Daily Mirror Pop & Rock Awards, "Best Newcomer" by Capital Radio, and "Best Female Singer" by the TV Times Readers Awards.
"9 to 5" was Easton's first single release in the United States, although it was renamed "Morning Train (Nine To Five)" for its release in the US and Canada to avoid confusion with Dolly Parton's hit movie title song "9 to 5". "Morning Train" became Easton's first and only #1 hit in the US and topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts in Billboard magazine. "Modern Girl" was released as the follow-up and peaked at #18, and before 1981 was over Sheena had a Top 10 hit in both the US and UK with the Academy Award-nominated James Bond movie theme ”For Your Eyes Only”. The song was nominated for an Academy Award in 1981 in the category "Best Music (Original Song)". Easton's US success culminated in her winning the Grammy Award for "Best New Artist" of 1981.
Easton's first three US albums, Sheena Easton (1981) (retitled edition of Take My Time), You Could Have Been With Me (1981), and Madness, Money and Music(1982), were all in the same Soft Rock/Adult Contemporary pop vein. The title track from You Could Have Been With Me made it in to the Top 15 (US), however, by the end of 1982, she saw her sales slumping. Some of her songs on these albums were covered by other artists too: "For Your Eyes Only" was covered by Marilyn McCoo and "Prisoner" was covered by the bands Sue Saad and the Next and Uriah Heep.
1983–87: Best Kept Secret, A Private Heaven and No Sound but a Heart[edit source | edit]Edit
In 1983, she released the album Best Kept Secret and its first single, the synthesized dance-pop tune "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)" became her fourth Top 10 hit. The single "Telefone" was Grammy-nominated for "Best Female Pop/Rock Vocal Performance" 1983. That same year, she had a Top 10 hit in the US with "We've Got Tonight", a cover of the Bob Seger song and duet with Kenny Rogers, which also earned her a #1 single on the Country chart (it reached the Top 30 on the British charts). The follow-up to "Telefone", "Almost Over You", was a #4 AC chart hit, Top 30 pop hit, and later became a hit on the Country charts for Lila McCann in 1998. "Almost Over You" was very popular in Asia (especially the Philippines) and was covered by the Filipino artists Sarah Geronimo, Regine Velasquez, Aiza Seguerra, Karylle, and Janno Gibbs and the Chinese singer Sandy Lam.
In 1983, Easton recorded a Spanish-language single, "Me Gustas Tal Como Eres" ("I Like You Just the Way You Are"), a duet with Mexican star Luis Miguel. The single earned her a second Grammy, this time for Best Mexican-American Performance. The track was taken from the album Todo Me Recuerda a Ti (1984), which featured Spanish-language covers of seven previous Easton recordings and three new tracks.
In 1984, she made a transformation into a sexy dance-pop siren. She was rewarded with the biggest-selling US album of her career, RIAA certified platinum A Private Heaven (1984), and her fifth Top 10 single, "Strut". Easton was, again, Grammy nominated for "Best Female Pop/Rock Vocal Performance" in 1984. She was also one of the first artists to have a music video banned because of its lyrics rather than its imagery; some broadcasters refused to air the sexually risqué "Sugar Walls", which had been written for her by Prince (using the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind). "Sugar Walls" was named by Tipper Gore of the Parents' Music Resource Council as one of the "Filthy Fifteen", a list of songs deemed indecent because of their lyrics, alongside Prince's own "Darling Nikki". The song eventually hit #3 on the R&B singles chart and #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Since in 1985, Easton re-recorded "We've Got Tonight" once again, a cover of the Bob Seger song and duet with Kenny Loggins, who released from his fifth album "Vox Humana (Kenny Loggins album)", which also earned her a #6 single on the Rock chart (It reached the Top 40 on the British charts). It earned Grammy Awards Song of the Year in 1986.
Easton's follow-up to A Private Heaven, entitled Do You (1985), was produced by Nile Rodgers and achieved gold status. In late 1985, Easton contributed "It's Christmas (All Over the World)" to the holiday release Santa Claus The Movie. In 1987, the release of a follow-up album, No Sound But a Heart (1987), was hampered in the United States after an initial single release, ”Eternity”, (another Prince composition) failed to reach the pop, R&B or adult contemporary charts. The single "Somewhere Out There", originally covered performed by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram, a duet with Kenny Loggins, from the film An American Tail, which peeked the number #23 chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Adult Contemporary. The album's release moved from February to June; then in August the release was further held up as Easton's attorneys asked that the album be delayed after EMI Records was absorbed into EMI/Manhattan.
Songs from the album were covered by other artists: Loggins recorded "Still Willing to Try", peeked number #21 chart on the Hot 100; Crystal Gayle and Gary Morris featured "Wanna Give My Love" and "What if We Fall in Love" on a 1987 duet album named for the latter song; Celine Dion recorded "The Last to Know" on 1990s Unison while Mexican singer Yuri featured the tune on her album Espejos De Alma (1995); Patti LaBelle covered "Still in Love" on 1989's Be Yourself; Pia Zadora recorded "Floating Hearts" on 1989's Pia Z. No Sound But a Heart eventually did get released in the United States in 1999, with four bonus tracks, including Easton's contributions to the soundtrack of the 1986 film About Last Night..., "Natural Love" and the Top 50 single "So Far, So Good".
1987–90: "U Got the Look" and The Lover in Me[edit source | edit]Edit
In 1987, she sang on Prince's #2 hit, "U Got the Look", and also appeared in the video. Prince and Sheena were Grammy nominated for "Best R&B Vocal, Duo or Group" in 1987. The two would later team again for "The Arms of Orion" written by Easton and featured on Prince's soundtrack to the movie Batman in 1989, reaching #36 in the US and #27 in the UK. They also co-wrote a song for Patti LaBelle's album that year titled "Love '89". In addition they co-wrote "La, La, La, He, He, Hee", which Prince recorded. Tabloid press linked the two romantically, which she has always denied.
In November 1987, Easton made her first dramatic acting appearance on the television program Miami Vice. She played a singer named Caitlin Davies, whom Sonny Crockett was assigned to protect until her court appearance to render crucial testimony against certain corrupt music industry mavens. Sonny and Caitlin ended up married by the end of the episode, the first of five for Easton until her character was killed off.
By the spring of 1988, the latest installment of the Miami Vice soundtrack was released and featured "Follow My Rainbow", which Easton had finished singing on her last appearance just moments before her character was eliminated.
The song also appeared on her next album The Lover in Me (1988), a gold-selling disc debut released the following autumn on her new label MCA Records, that put Easton back on the charts. This album features Urban R&B and Dance-pop, and a sexier image. The title song from "The Lover in Me" reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (UK#15) and became her biggest pop hit since "Morning Train". It also became a (#5) hit on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart. It was followed on the R&B chart by "Days Like This" (#35) (UK #43), which missed the Billboard Hot 100. A third single was released "101" (UK #54) and missed the Billboard top 100 but did make it to #2 on the Billboard Dance chart. The album received positive reviews and featured collaborations with LA and Babyface, Prince, Angela Winbush, and Jellybean Benitez.
Since in 1989, Easton, who plays Christine Daaé, recorded "The Phantom of the Opera" theme song, a duet with Colm Wilkinson, who plays The Phantom, and "All I Ask of You", a duet with Kenny Loggins, who plays Raoul, which is released as a single. It was released on 1989 film or the soundtrack album The Phantom of the Opera.
In 1990, Easton revisited her home country of Scotland to perform at a festival (The Big Day) in Glasgow. After announcing, that it was "good to be back home" in an American accent, she had bottles (some containing urine) thrown at her and, visibly shaken, she was forced to cut her set short. She vowed never to perform in Scotland again.
1991–96: What Comes Naturally, No Strings, and My Cherie[edit source | edit]Edit
In 1991, What Comes Naturally became the last of Easton's albums to chart in the United States, peaking at No. 90. The title song was also her last Top 40 single to date, reaching No. 19. It also became her first hit in Australia since the mid-1980s, peaking at No. 3. Another two singles "You Can Swing It" and "To Anyone" followed but failed to chart. "What Comes Naturally" (US No. 19, UK No. 83, Australia No. 3.) remained on the pop chart for 10 weeks, and 11 weeks in the ARIA Chart in Australia. Easton has songwriting credits on three tracks. Easton is one of the few pop artist to adopt the New Jack Swing sound from the early 90's.
1996–99: Freedom, Home and Colors of Christmas Tour[edit source | edit]Edit
Easton contributed vocals to the soundtrack on "Count Me Out" and "I Will Always Be With You". Easton also contributed the theme song "Are There Angels" to the soundtrack for Shiloh in 1997; and provided the song "A Dream Worth Keeping" for the 1993 animated film FernGully: The Last Rainforest.
In 1997, she played 'Melissa', a recording star, who is visited by time travelers from the future in an episode of the Canadian television series The Outer Limits (Season 2/Episode 19) entitled 'Falling Star'. The episode featured her singing two songs from My Cherie.
In the late 1990s, Easton retained an album contract with MCA Japan and released 2 discs of new material. Freedom in 1997, a return to her trademark pop including a remake of her debut single "Modern Girl" and in 1999Universal/Victor released the self-produced acoustic set, Home. Also around this time, a greatest hits collection featuring 12 MCA singles recorded from 1988-1995 charted in Japan at #98.
Easton adopted a boy (Jake) and girl (Skylar) between 1995 and 1996. Motherhood led her to curtail her appearances and focus on casino gigs, corporate shows and theatrical work. "Because I adopted my children, I could plan my timing", she told The Arizona Republic. "I knew exactly when they were coming along, so I knew when I had to change my life so it would be a stable life."
Easton continued acting in America, starring in Broadway revivals of Man of La Mancha opposite Raul Julia in his last stage role (1992), and Grease (1996). Between 1994 and 1996, she played several characters in Gargoyles the animated series, including Lady Finella, the Banshee, Molly and Robyn Canmore. In 1999, she voice-acted a part-demon character, Annah-of-the-Shadows, in the computer game Planescape: Torment. She lives in Las Vegas with her two children and often performs in various casinos' entertainment venues. She voiced the character of Fiona Canmore for a scripted but unfinished episode of the cancelled animated feature, Team Atlantis.
In December 1998, Easton toured with "The Colors of Christmas" with artists Roberta Flack, Melissa Manchester, Peabo Bryson, and Jeffrey Osborne. Windham Hill Records produced "The Colors of Christmas" disc by Robbie Buchanan of holiday music. Easton contributed two tracks, "The Place Where We Belong" (a duet with Jeffrey Osborne), and "The Lord's Prayer".
1999–present: Todo Me Recuerda a Ti, Fabulous and break from recording[edit source | edit]Edit
1999-2000 saw New York based One Way Records gain the rights to release all of Easton's EMI-America catalog. For the first time in the US, No Sound But a Heart was released. All Easton's EMI back catalogue was re-released with bonus tracks, incorporating B-sides and remixes. However, there was one notable exception to the re-release schedule, Easton's Spanish language album Todo Me Recuerda a Ti.
She also signed an album contract with Universal International UK and attempted a comeback of sorts with Fabulous (2000), an album of classic disco covers. The first single, "Giving Up, Giving In", reached UK #54, and the album failed to chart in the UK and was not released in the US. A second single, a cover of Donna Summer's hit "Love is in Control", was withdrawn. In Japan, the first single was "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and the album included a cover of Teena Marie's "I Need Your Lovin'" as a bonus track. Remixes of the singles were produced by Joey Negro, Sleaze Sisters, Sharp Boys, Rob Searle, DJ Soma Grow and Almighty. This was to be Easton's last album release to date. Released in 2000, it was Easton's 16th studio album. The album was only released throughout Europe, Japan, Australia, and Argentina.
The album contains mostly cover versions of hit songs from the 1970s and 1980s, and most of them disco classics. There are also two original compositions. The first single released from the album was a remake of "Giving Up Giving In", which had originally been a hit for The Three Degrees in 1978. Easton's version was less successful, peaking at #54 on the UK singles chart. A second single was released in 2001, a cover of Donna Summer's 1982 hit "Love Is In Control" with an accompanying video, that was taken from footage of Easton's album launch concert at G-A-Y nightclub in London. However, this too was unsuccessful and shelved indefinitely.
In Japan, Fabulous was released in February 2001 and the first single was "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", which had originally been recorded by Frankie Valli in the 1960s, though a disco version had been a hit for The Boys Town Gangin the early 1980s. The album was packaged differently from the UK version and included two bonus tracks; "I Need Your Lovin'" (a cover of the 1980 Teena Marie song) and a remix of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". In Australia, "Fabulous" was released 24 February 2001 and Easton was asked to perform songs from the album to close out 2001 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras ceremonies. The album was a commercial failure in the UK, though the album did enjoy mild success in dance clubs in London, Japan, and Australia. However, the album was not released in the United States.
Sheena Easton performing live on 7 November 2009
In 2003, Easton contributed vocals to "If You're Happy", a cover for a Japanese disc called Cover Morning Musume-Hello Project. She also began to host Vegas Live, a talk show with Clint Holmes(later replaced by Brian McKnight).
Personal life[edit source | edit]Edit
Easton has been married four times. The first was when she was in Scotland to Sandi Easton at the age of 19. The marriage lasted eight months. Sandi Easton died in 1998, aged 48.
Her second marriage in 1984 to Rob Light, a talent agent, ended after 18 months. Easton was granted US citizenship in 1992 and adopted her first child, Jake Rion Cousins Easton, in 1994. Two years later, she adopted again, this time a baby girl named Skylar. In the summer of 1997, she met producer Tim Delarm while filming an episode of ESPN Canon Photo Safari in Yellowstone National Park and later married Delarm in Las Vegas in July 1997. The marriage lasted one year. On 9 November 2002 she married John Minoli, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. They divorced in 2003.
Easton is a single mother to her two children, and currently resides in Henderson, Nevada. She reportedly made shrewd investments in Florida property, that led to her appearance on the Sunday Times Rich List, but she denies such claims.
Discography[edit source | edit]Edit
- Sheena Easton (1981) retitled edition of Take My Time
- You Could Have Been with Me (1981)
- Madness, Money & Music (1982)
- Best Kept Secret (1983)
- A Private Heaven (1984)
- Todo Me Recuerda a Ti (1984) - Spanish language release
- Do You (1985)
- No Sound But a Heart (1987)
- The Lover in Me (1988)
- What Comes Naturally (1991)
- No Strings (1993)
- My Cherie (1995)
- Freedom (1997)
- Home (1999)
- Fabulous (2000)
Filmography[edit source | edit]Edit
- For Your Eyes Only (1981) - Herself in opening credit sequence
- Miami Vice (1987) - Caitlin Davies (five episodes)
- Les Misérables (1988) - Cosette
- Chess (1989) – Florence Vassy
- Nicholas Nickleby (1989) - Madeline Bray
- The Phantom of the Opera (1989) - Christine Daaé
- All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996), All Dogs Go to Heaven: The Series (1996 - TV series), An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998) - voice of Sasha LeFleur
- Body Bags (1993) - Megan (in segment titled "Hair")
- Highlander: The Series (1993) - Annie Devlin (in episode titled "An Eye for an Eye")
- The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993) - Crystal Hawks (one episode)
- Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (1993) - voice of Agnes
- TekWar (TV series) (1994) - War Bride
- Real Ghosts a.k.a Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories (1995) - Janet (nightclub owner)
- Gargoyles (1995) - Robyn Canmore, Banshee, Molly, Finella
- The Outer Limits (1996) - Melissa McCammon in episode titled "Falling Star"
- Road Rovers (1996) - Groomer, Persia, Mrs. British Prime Minister
- Duckman (1997) - Betty (one episode)
- Chicken Soup for the Soul (1999) - Vicky in episode titled "Sand Castles"
- Disney's The Legend of Tarzan (2001) - voice of Dr. Robin Doyle (two episodes)
- Vegas Live! With Clint Holmes and Sheena Easton (2003)
- Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster (2004) - voice of Professor Fiona Pembrooke
- Young Blades (2005) - Queen Anne
Broadway[edit source | edit]Edit
- Man of La Mancha - Aldonza (1991-1992-reprise role in 1998) (Broadway show)
- Grease (1996) - Betty Rizzo (Broadway show)