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Sheena Shirley Easton (née Orr; born April 27, 1959) is a Scottish international recording artist and stage and TV/film actress. Easton first came into the public eye as the focus of an episode in the first British reality television programme The Big Time: Pop Singer, which recorded her attempts to gain a record contract and her eventual signing with EMI Records.
Easton's 1980 debut singles, "Modern Girl" and "9 to 5"," entered into the UK top ten, making her the first UK female artist to appear twice in the same top ten since (Ruby Murray). In 1981, "9 to 5", topped the US Hot 100, making her the third UK female solo artist to achieve this, following Petula Clark and Lulu and is one of the most successful British female performers to date.
A six-time Grammy nominee in the US, Easton is a two-time Grammy Award winner, winning Best New Artist in 1981 and Best Mexican-American Performance in 1985, for her duet with Luis Miguel on the song "Me Gustas Tal Como Eres". She has received 5 U.S. Gold albums and 1 U.S. Platinum album. She has recorded 16 studio albums, released 45 singles, and had 15 Top 40 hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 between 1981 and 1991. She also had 25 top 40 hits in international territories around the world. In Canada, Easton scored 3 gold and 2 platinum albums. She has sold over 25 million albums and singles worldwide.
Easton became the first and only artist in history to have a top 5 hit on five different Billboard charts consecutively, with Morning Train (9 to 5) (Pop & Adult Contemporary), "We've Got Tonight" with Kenny Rogers (Country), "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)" (Dance), and "Sugar Walls" (R&B).
Easton's other hits include the James Bond theme "For Your Eyes Only", "Strut", "U Got the Look" and "The Arms of Orion" with Prince, "The Lover in Me" and "What Comes Naturally". She has worked with prominent vocalists and producers, such as Prince, Christopher Neil, Kenny Rogers, David Foster, Luis Miguel, L.A. Reid & Babyface, Patrice Rushen and Nile Rodgers.
Easton was born Sheena Shirley Orr in the Scottish town of Bellshill, the youngest of six children of steel mill labourer Alex Orr and his wife Annie. She had two brothers (Robert and Alex) and three sisters (Marilyn, Anessa 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 met and sang for blue eyed soul singer Dusty Springfield, and Lulu (another Scottish singer), whose manager Marion Massey told her that she was unlikely to make the "big time". Within a year of the programme airing, Sheena Easton proved Lulu's manager 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".
1981-83: "9 to 5", James Bond, Take My Time:
Her first single, the disco-tinged soft-synth-pop tune, "Modern Girl", was released in the UK before The Big Time 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 UK top 10 simultaneously. During 1980 Easton 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 she had a Top 10 hit in both the US and UK with the Academy Award-nominated James Bond movie theme "For Your Eyes Only". Easton has the distinction of being the only theme song artist in the series to appear on screen (as of 2014). The song was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe 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. Easton was one of the first artists to record "Wind Beneath My Wings" (included on Madness, Money and Music), which later became associated with Bette Midler.
Then in 1982 saw Easton undertake her first US tour. Her performance in Los Angeles was videotaped and broadcast on HBO and later released on VHS as Sheena Easton Live at the Palace, Hollywood.
1983-87: Best Kept Secret, Todo Me Recuerda a Ti, A Private Heaven and No Sound but a Heart:
In January 1983, she had a Top 10 hit in the US with "We 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 UK Top 30). October 1983, saw the release of 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 was Grammy-nominated for "Best Female Pop/Rock Vocal Performance" 1983. The follow-up single, "Almost Over You", reached the US Top 30 was a #4 AC chart 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. Around the time of her hit record with Rogers, Easton headlined Act One, a one-hour variety special broadcast on NBC that featured Rogers and a cameo appearance by Johnny Carson.
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), and reissued by Capitol/EMI-Latin in (1989), 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, changing her performance style in the process. She was rewarded with the biggest-selling US album of her career, RIAA certified gold & platinum A Private Heaven (1984), and her sixth Top 10 US single, "Strut". In the UK, however, the move was not a commercial success, as Easton would find herself shutout of the UK top 75 for the next three years.
Her career in ascendancy in the US, 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.
Easton's follow-up to A Private Heaven, entitled Do You (1985), was produced by Nile Rodgers and achieved gold status, although it failed to generate any breakout singles of the chart calibre of "Strut" or "Sugar Walls". 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 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. (This did not prevent the album from being released in Canada, Europe and other territories.)
Songs from the album were covered by other artists: 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:
In 1987, Easton appeared in Prince's concert film Sign o' the Times, during which they dueted on "U Got the Look", which became a No. 2 hit in the US for Prince and Easton, leading to the duo being Grammy nominated twice for "Best R&B Vocal, Duo or Group" and "Best R&B Song" in 1987. The track also returned Easton to the UK hit parade for the first time in nearly 4 years. 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 (US) #36 and (UK) #27. 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 for the b side of the single "Sign o the Times". 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 eliminated.
By the spring of 1988, a volume 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), RIAA gold disc debut released the following autumn on her new label MCA Records, that put Easton back on the US and UK charts after the release of No Sound But a Heart was cancelled in the US. This album features Urban R&B and Dance-pop, and a sexier image. The title song from "The Lover in Me" reached US #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and (UK#15) and became her biggest pop hit since "Morning Train". It also became a (#5) hit on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart. It was followed on the US R&B chart by "Days Like This" (#35) and (UK #43), which missed the Billboard Hot 100. The third single released "101" (UK #54) missed the Billboard top 100 but did make it to (US #2) on the Billboard Dance chart. A final single was released "No Deposit, No Return" and failed to chart. The album received positive reviews and featured collaborations with LA and Babyface, Prince, Angela Winbush, and Jellybean Benitez.
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, Modern Girl (Live in San Diego), No Strings, and My Cherie:
In 1991, What Comes Naturally became the last of Easton's albums to chart in the United States, peaking at #90. The title song was also her last Top 40 single to date, reaching #19. It also became her first hit in Australia since the mid-1980s, peaking at # 3. Another two singles "You Can Swing It" and "To Anyone" followed but failed to chart. "What Comes Naturally" remained on the US pop chart for 10 weeks, and 11 weeks on the ARIA Chart in Australia. Easton has songwriting credits on three tracks. Easton is one of the few pop artists to adopt the new jack swing sound with chart success from the early 1990s.
1992 saw Easton become a United States citizen; she presently holds dual citizenship with Scotland and the United States.
In Germany and Japan 1992 an unofficial recording of "Modern Girl" (Live in San Diego) was released by "That's Life" recordings. The music was from her early output with EMI and became a sort of Bootleg version of her concert when she performed stateside on her first world wide tour in 1982.
Easton followed this with the non-charting but critically acclaimed No Strings (1993), an album of Jazz standards and My Cherie (1995) her last pop album to date to see domestic release in the United States.
1996-99: Freedom, Home and Colors of Christmas Tour:
Easton contributed vocals to the soundtrack of All Dogs Go To Heaven 2 and voiced the character Sasha La Fleur 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 McCammon', 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. However, neither album was originally released in the United States. Freedom, released in 1997 to coincide with the launch of her website and finally released in (Limited Edition) stateside in 2007, was a return to her trademark pop, including a remake of her debut single "Modern Girl".
In 1999 Universal/Victor released the self-produced acoustic set, Home. Also around this time, Sheena Easton Greatest Hits collection featuring 12 MCA singles recorded from 1988-1995 released and charted in Japan at #98 (additional greatest hits collections surfaced in the US and UK, but did not chart).
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 lead Broadway revivals of Man of La Mancha as (Aldonza) opposite Raul Julia in his last stage role (1992), and Grease as Rizzo (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: One Way Records US Reissues, Fabulous, Break from Recording, and UK Edsel Reissues:
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, 12 years after the album was made available elsewhere. All of Easton's EMI back catalogue was re-released and remastered 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".
Universal Japan released Best Ballads, a disc of ballads from her six previous albums from her MCA catalog with the exception of "For Your Eyes Only" for the Japanese market that failed to chart.
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 charted at UK#185. A second single, a cover of Donna Summer's hit "Love is in Control", with double A-side "Don't Leave Me This Way", was withdrawn. 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 continental Europe, Spain, Estonia, Japan, Australia, and Argentina but not in the US.
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 Gang in 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.
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). In 2004, she was inducted into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame at the Tropicana Resort & Casino.
In February 2013, Edsel Records (UK) reissued Easton's "You Could Have Been with Me" and "Madness, Money and Music" along with "A Private Heaven" and "Do You" in two compact disc packages remastered with bonus tracks, with the latter including the extended version of "Jimmy Mack" that has never been included on any of her reissues. In November 2014, a box set of Easton's first five albums in an original album series Compact Disc collection will be released in the United Kingdom.
Easton has been married four times, with each of her marriages lasting 18 months or less. She has two adopted children.
Her first marriage 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 became a US citizen in 1992, carrying dual citizenship with the United Kingdom, 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 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.
In December 2013 it was reported that Easton had sold her five-bedroom mansion in July 2013 for $430,650, which represented a loss of more than $80,000, and bought a smaller house for $200,000. Her ex-husband, John Minoli, has been quoted as saying that Easton admired film star Debra Winger's disappearance from the limelight and recognized some of what Winger had to go through, having been "at such a pinnacle and then going through a transition to find a life that is meaningful, that has purpose".