Shena, you seem to have come out of nowhere but I believe you're no stranger to the music scene. I was digging through my collection and found a copy of "Let The Beat Hit Em" from 1997. Are you the same Shena and was that your debut?
Yes that was me back in 1997 with "Let The Beat Hit 'Em". That was my second release as a solo artist but not as a dance diva. The first track I recorded and released commercially in the dance world was "You Belong To Me" by JX.
A young, bald (!) Shena helped turn this into a dance classicDid you actually record an album to go along with "Let The Beat Hit 'Em"? What was it like being with a big label?
No, I didn’t record an album to go with it unfortunately. I did and didn’t enjoy being with a major label because I felt like I was contracted to them in name only. That was because my label was Virgin Club and not Virgin itself, so I got none of the perks that say The Spice Girls got.
I understand you've also been a session singer for some of the biggest names in soul. Who has benefited from your amazing vocals?
The late James Brown, the late Luther Vandross, Joss Stone, Ronan Keating, Heather Small, Amy Winehouse, Patti Labelle, Inner City, Errol Brown, Lisa Stanfield and Angie Stone. These are as many of the big soul artists as I can think of at this moment, but there are plenty of others from many different musical genres that I lent my vocals to.
You've also featured on some of the biggest dance tracks of recent years including Michael Gray's "The Weekend" and Junior Jack's "Dare Me". Was not being credited on such big hits frustrating? Did it spur you on to record your own album?
Absolutely, because as much as I love dance music I have always felt faceless within it. Hence after years of trying to contain that frustration, my husband and I decided that enough was enough and "One man woman" my forthcoming album was born.
Calling the shots feels very nice indeed. Also no, I had no idea how I wanted the album to sound except that I wanted to create something that I myself would buy as well as a lot of other people of course! Initially we had great songs but were unsure of direction, but when James and I analysed what our strengths were and through some very helpful advice from a ‘tastemaker’ friend we decided to reinvent it into a nu-disco album. It’s hard to break a new act with a sound that is different to the mainstream, but the feedback we are getting is phenomenal, so we’re now convinced that we made the right decision.
Which writers and producers have you worked with?
Too many to mention but the list includes the Freemasons, Alex Gaudino, Michael Gray, Full Intention, Starchaser, Warren Clarke, 7th Heaven, Bimbo Jones, Fraser Smith, Richard Cottle and James Winchester who produced the entire album except for one song, co-wrote it with me and also happens to be my manager and hubby.
"My Fantasy" is such a glorious slice of disco. Have you always been a fan of the genre? What are your favourite disco anthems?
I have always been a fan of the genre and because I was born in the 70’s I never got a chance to really appreciate it the first time round so I am more than making up for it this time. Regarding my favourite disco anthems that would have to be, "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer, "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth, Wind and Fire and "Blame It On The Boogie" by Michael Jackson.
Shena's scorching hot sisters!
The video clip is amazing. I want that disco ball outfit! Is it true that your sisters are the sexy backing singers in the video?
Thank you and yes the three gorgeous ladies who star as my backing singers in the video clip are all my sisters…Nobody believes me when I tell them that!
You've said that Whitney Houston is your ultimate role model. Are you looking forward to her comeback in September?
Oh yes, yes and yes, but she had better be good and not have lost that beautiful gift that she was blessed with or I don’t know if I will be able to forgive her. It’s not nice to see or hear your idol in a bad state, so I’m hoping to be inspired all over again like I was when she first arrived on the scene.
Congratulations on delivering one of the best songs of 2009. I wish you every success with the album!
Thank you so much!"My Fantasy" is released in the UK on the 29th of June. You can pre-order Shena's debut album "One Man Woman" from HMV and Amazon. Make sure you add her as a friend on Myspace and check out her website.