Sheena Easton (born Sheena Shirley Orr on 27 April 1959, Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Scotland) is a Scottish-American pop singer. Sheena became famous for being the focus of the United Kingdom television programme The Big Time, a late-1970s reality TV series which recorded her attempts to gain a record contract and got her a deal with EMI.
Sheena was the youngest of six children of a steel mill laborer, Alex Orr, and his wife Annie. Her siblings included brothers Robert and Alex and sisters Marilyn, Annessa and Morag. Her earliest known public performance as a singer was at the age of five, when in 1964 she sang "Early One Morning" for her uncle and aunt and various relatives at the couple's 25th wedding anniversary celebration.
In 1969, as young Sheena reached the age of 10, her father died. Her now-widowed mother took on work as a laborer to support the family alone. Sheena's website states that her mother was always available for her children, despite her tremendous workload: "Sheena always speaks very highly of her mom and the wonderful job she did in raising her and her siblings, including teaching each of them all to read at home before they were even enrolled in school."
She had not considered seriously entering upon a singing career until a viewing of The Way We Were, a Barbra Streisand film, at her local cinema. Streisand's singing over the opening credits "overtook" the young Scots girl and convinced her that what she wanted most was to be a singer and have that kind of effect on others. Her top grades in school earned her a scholarship to attend the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, and she trained there 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 four husbands. They divorced after only eight months, but Sheena decided to keep the surname Easton, which she retains professionally to this day. That year, "The Big Time" selected Sheena as the subject of a documentary film planned to chronicle a relative unknown's rise to pop-music stardom, after one of her Academy instructors coaxed her into auditioning. Her talent persuaded reluctant EMI executives to award her a contract, and Christopher Neil was assigned as her recording producer. Deke Arlon became her first manager, and Sheena spent much of 1980 being followed by camera crews, who filmed her throughout the process of making her first EMI single, "Modern Girl."
Her second marriage, in 1984, was to Rob Light, a talent agent, but ended after 18 months. Sheena earned U.S. citizenship in 1992 and adopted her first child, Jake in 1993. Two years later, she adopted again, this time a baby girl named Skylar. Summer of 1997 she met and married husband three, producer Tim Delarm, while filming an episode of ESPN Canon Photo Safari in Yellowstone National Park and later married Delarm in Las Vegas July 1997. The marriage lasted one year. In 2001, she became engaged to John Minoli, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and married him on November 9, 2002. They divorced in 2003 and Sheena has been a single mother to her two children since and currently resides in Las Vegas.
Her first single, the disco-tinged soft-synth-pop tune "Modern Girl," was released in the U.K. before the show aired and reached a disappointing #56. At the end of the show, Sheena was still unsure of her future as a singer, but the question was soon resolved when, after the show aired, her second single, "9 To 5," soared up the U.K. charts to #3 in 1980. "Modern Girl" re-entered the chart subsequently and climbed into the top 10, and Sheena Easton, who had just a few months earlier been a virtual unknown, now found herself with two songs in the top 10 simultaneously.
"9 To 5" was Sheena's first single release in the United States, although it was renamed "Morning Train (9 To 5)" for its release in the U.S. and Canada to avoid confusion with Dolly Parton's hit movie title song "9 To 5." "Morning Train" became Sheena's only #1 hit in the U.S. and topped both the 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 chalked up a top 10 hit in both the U.S. and U.K. with the Academy Award-nominated James Bond movie theme "For Your Eyes Only." Sheena's U.S. success culminated in her winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1981.
Sheena's first three U.S. albums, Sheena Easton, You Could Have Been With Me, and Madness, Money and Music, were all in the same soft-rock adult contemporary pop vein (although she made a grab for the dance audience with "Machinery," from the latter album), but by the end of 1982, with British synthesizer bands taking over the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, she saw her sales slumping. In 1983 she came back strongly in America with the album Best Kept Secret and its first single, the synthesized dance-pop tune "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)", which became her fourth top 10 hit (her third was a duet with Kenny Rogers earlier in the year on "We've Got Tonight", which reached #1 on the country chart, and the top 10 on the pop and AC charts).
In 1984, she began collaborating with Prince and made an Olivia Newton-John-like transformation into a sexy dance-pop siren. She was rewarded with the biggest-selling U.S. album of her career, A Private Heaven, and her fifth top 10 single, the sassy "Strut." She also one of the first artists to have a music video banned because of its lyrics rather than its imagery, when some broadcasters refused to play the sexually risqué "Sugar Walls", which had been written for her by Prince (using the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind). "Sugar Walls" was also 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". Despite this controversy, A Private Heaven (which included "Strut" and "Sugar Walls") became her biggest seller. "Sugar Walls" also hit #3 on the R&B singles chart.
Around this time she also recorded a Grammy-winning Spanish-language single, "Me Gustas Tal Como Eres," a duet with Luis Miguel. It was taken from Easton's album, Todo Me Recuerda a Ti ("Everything Reminds Me of You"). Success in the pop, adult contemporary, R&B, country and Latin fields earned Easton a reputation as one of the most versatile vocalists of the 1980s.
Easton's follow-up to A Private Heaven, entitled Do You, received poor reviews and disappointing sales (despite yielding the top 30 single "Do It For Love"). Release of a further follow-up album, 1987's No Sound But a Heart, was canceled in the United States after an initial single release, Eternity, flopped. Sheena was not totally absent from the charts in 1987, however; she sang on Prince's #2 hit, "U Got the Look", and also appeared in the video. (The two would later team again for "The Arms of Orion", featured on Prince's soundtrack to the movie Batman, but it wasn't as big a hit, reaching #36.)
In November of 1987 Sheena made her first dramatic acting appearance on the television program Miami Vice, playing a singer named Caitlin Davies, whom Sonny Crockett was assigned to protect until she made a court appearance. Sonny and Caitlin were 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 the song "Follow My Rainbow", which Sheena sang on her last appearance, moments before her character was shot to death. The song also appeared on her next album The Lover In Me, a gold-selling disc released the following autumn that put Easton back on the charts. This album features Urban contemporary and Dance-pop. The title song from "The Lover In Me" reached #2 on the Hot 100 and became her biggest pop hit since "Morning Train." It was also a #5 hit on the R&B chart. It was followed on the R&B chart by "Days Like This" (#35), which missed the Hot 100.
In 1991, What Comes Naturally became the last of Sheena's albums to chart in the U.S.; the title song was also her last top 40 single, reaching #19, and some of her recent albums have only been available in the Far East or Europe (except for the critically acclaimed No Strings, My Cherie and "Freedom"). She recently enjoyed some success with an album entitled Fabulous and has also become a minor gay icon.
Sheena continued acting in America, starring in Broadway revivals of Man Of La Mancha (1992) and Grease (1996). Between 1994 and 1996, she played several characters in Gargoyles the animated series, including Lady Finella, the Banshee, and Robin Canmoor. In 1999, she voice-acted a half-demon character, Annah-of-the-Shadows, in the computer game Planescape: Torment. She lives in Las Vegas with her two adopted children and often performs in the city's casinos.
In June 1998, her former secondary school Bellshill Academy celebrated its centenary. Easton signed a tribute to the school for its special occasion which is still on display in the main building. She was a pupil there from 1971 - 1977.
A popular story at the school was that there used to be a school desk that Easton had graffiti'd her then name "Sheena Orr" which was of some source of pride to the teacher whose classroom it belonged to. Upon returning from the summer holiday break a number of years later, the teacher was dismayed to find that the furniture had all been replaced and the signature strewn desk had gone.
In April and May 2004, Easton visited Australia and featured in a kooky TV commercial for Connex in Melbourne. A number of unrealistically happy passengers in an unrealistically underpatronised morning train were singing "9 to 5". Sheena boarded the train at Burnley Station, and screamed. The passengers paused in awe, then went on singing.
On October 31, 2004, Sheena was inducted into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame at the Tropicana Resort & Casino along with fellow Las Vegas icons Debbie Reynolds, Ben Vereen, Patti Page, Jack Jones and Tempest Storm.
In July 2005, Sheena appeared as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at North Carolina Theatre in Raleigh, NC. The show co-starred Ray Walker as Joseph, Merwin Foard as the Pharaoh, David F.M. Vaughn as Reuben, Demond Green as Judah, and Darryl Winslow as Simeon.
Sheena Easton speaks with a very noticeable Scottish accent which is absent from her powerful singing voice.
- Take My Time (1981) #17 UK
- Sheena Easton (1981) #24 U.S., #9 Canada
- You Could Have Been With Me (1981) #33 UK, #47 U.S.
- Madness, Money & Music (1982) #44 UK, #85 U.S.
- Best Kept Secret (1983) #99 UK, #33 U.S., #32 Canada
- Todo Me Recuerda a Ti (1984) - Spanish language release
- A Private Heaven (1984) #15 U.S. #36 Canada
- Do You (1985) #40 U.S.
- No Sound But A Heart (1987)
- The Lover In Me (1988) #30 UK, #44 U.S.
- What Comes Naturally (1991) #90 U.S.
- No Strings (1993)
- My Cherie (1995)
- Freedom (1997)
- Home (1999)
- Fabulous (2001)
- "Modern Girl" (1980) #8 UK, #18 U.S. Pop, #13 U.S. AC, #19 Canada (1981 release)
- "Morning Train (9 to 5)" (1980) #3 UK, #1 U.S. Pop and AC, #1 Canada (1981 release)
- "One Man Woman" (1980) #14 UK
- "Take My Time" (1981) #44 UK
- "When He Shines" (1981) #12 UK, #30 U.S. Pop, #13 U.S. AC (1982 release)
- "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) #8 UK, #4 U.S. Pop, #6 U.S. AC, #7 Canada
- "Just Another Broken Heart" (1981) #33 UK
- "You Could Have Been With Me" (1981) #54 UK, #15 U.S. Pop, #6 U.S. AC, #13 Canada
- "Machinery" (1982) #38 UK, #57 U.S. Pop
- "I Wouldn't Beg For Water" (1982) #64 U.S. Pop, #19 U.S. AC
- "We've Got Tonight" (w/Kenny Rogers) (1983) #28 UK, #6 U.S. Pop, #2 U.S. AC, #1 U.S. Country, #2 Canada
- "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)" (1983) #9 U.S. Pop, #15 U.S. AC, #84 UK, #8 Canada
- "Almost Over You" (1983) #25 U.S. Pop, #4 U.S. AC, #89 UK
- "Devil In A Fast Car" (1984) #79 U.S. Pop
- "Strut" (1984) #7 U.S. Pop, #8 Canada
- "Sugar Walls" (1984) #9 U.S. Pop, #3 U.S. R&B, #95 UK, #20 Canada
- "Swear" (1985) #80 U.S. Pop
- "Do It For Love" (1985) #29 U.S. Pop, #39 U.S. AC
- "Jimmy Mack" (1986) #65 U.S. Pop
- "So Far So Good" (1986) #43 U.S. Pop, #35 U.S. AC
- "The Lover In Me" (1988) #15 UK, #2 U.S. Pop, #5 U.S. R&B, #43 U.S. AC, #26 Canada
- "Days Like This" (1989) #43 UK, #35 U.S. R&B
- "101" (1989) #54 UK
- "The Arms Of Orion" (w/Prince) (1989) #27 UK, #36 U.S. Pop, #21 U.S. AC
- "What Comes Naturally" (1991) #19 U.S. Pop, #39 U.S. R&B, #21 Canada, #83 UK
- "Giving Up Giving In" (2000) #54 UK
- List of number-one hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the Hot 100 (U.S.)
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. Dance chart
- UK based unofficial website
- Official Web Site
- Lyrics to EVERY Sheena Easton song
- Sheena Easton Discography
- Sheena Easton at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)it:Sheena Easton