HEART TO HEART

Closer Weekly - - Closer - — Re­port­ing by Ilyssa Panitz

Scot­tish singer Sheena Eas­ton re­flects on the tough choices she’s made.

From “9 to 5 (Morn­ing Train)” and “For Your Eyes Only” to “Strut” and “The Lover in Me,” Scot­tish singer Sheena Eas­ton’s gor­geous voice on big hits helped de­fine the 1980s. Ex­cit­ing de­tours (like play­ing Don John­son’s wife on Mi­ami Vice) made her a pop-cul­ture sen­sa­tion. But the two-time Grammy win­ner’s ca­reer took a back seat to mother­hood in the ’90s af­ter she adopted the loves of her life, son Jake, 24, and daugh­ter Sky­lar, 22. “When I chose to be­come a mom, I knew I would have to make changes in my life, so I di­aled my ca­reer back,” Sheena,

59, shares with Closer. “I was 36 years old when I adopted my son, so I knew what I was get­ting into. This was some­thing I re­ally wanted to do.” Luck­ily for her fans, Sheena is back, re­cently per­form­ing at the Mo­he­gan Sun Wolf Den in Con­necti­cut, and she’s plan­ning more con­cert dates for next year. Though she’s had a rocky road in love with four di­vorces over the years, “I made a choice to put my fam­ily first,” she says, “and that helped me stay sane.”

You’ve sold more than 20 mil­lion records, had more than 20 songs in the Hot 100 and you’re the first artist to have top-five records on five ma­jor Bill­board charts.

Re­ally? I was lucky that in my day when I was putting out records, I had a di­verse, eclec­tic cat­a­log. I did pop, R&B, a coun­try duet with Kenny Rogers [“We’ve Got Tonight”]. I love coun­try and like to use it in my show. It makes me feel good to know I made a mark in mu­sic along the way.

With so many hits, how do you choose what to sing in con­cert?

I like to make a night of nostal­gia. Fans that have been com­ing to my show for years know that I like to give them the hits they are ex­pect­ing, but I change it up a bit. I re­tire some for a while and then bring them back out again. I also like songs that in­flu­enced me as I was com­ing up, that mean some­thing to me per­son­ally, and I want my shows to have mean­ing. I want each song in there for a rea­son.

What are the top songs fans ask for?

I don’t do re­quests, but long-term fans have dif­fer­ent fa­vorites from dif­fer­ent al­bums, so that’s hard to say.

Is there one that speaks to you the most?

Gosh, we are talk­ing 40 years of do­ing this! It is cycli­cal. It’s kind of like your kids: there’s no par­tic­u­lar fa­vorite, but one can make you smile at times more than an­other.

Peo­ple also re­mem­ber your wed­ding to

Don John­son’s char­ac­ter in Mi­ami Vice....

Play­ing that role was life chang­ing. It was a big deal for Don’s char­ac­ter. It was a very high­pro­file thing and one of my early act­ing roles, so there was a lot of at­ten­tion. It got crazy!

How so?

When we filmed the wed­ding scene, it was hard to get the shots be­cause he­li­copters were hov­er­ing over us to take pic­tures as if this was a real celebrity wed­ding! They wanted pic­tures of Don John­son get­ting mar­ried. It is not real, folks! This is fake, for a TV show. That was be­fore all of to­day’s nutty pa­parazzi. But it was a blast, and Don was a plea­sure to work with.

Was he a good kisser?

Ab­so­lutely! I think he had a lot of prac­tice.

How do you prep for a con­cert?

I have cer­tain rou­tines. I come in wear­ing jeans and a T-shirt and no makeup and prob­a­bly what­ever I am cranky about that day. Then you have to trans­form your at­ti­tude, open­ing your­self up to give to the au­di­ence.

How do you do that?

Some­times I start my day not feel­ing par­tic­u­larly cre­ative, but then I get my head into that mind-set: you put on the hair, the makeup, the clothes and get ready to be Sheena Eas­ton the per­former as op­posed to Sheena Eas­ton the mom, the friend, the daugh­ter or the one who’s cranky that day.

Any main dif­fer­ences be­tween the two?

I am low-key. I like to hang out with a friend or be with my fam­ily. Fam­ily is a big thing for me right now.

What made you want to adopt kids?

I’d had a full-blown, non­stop “me-fest” up to that point. It was all about me, my ca­reer and what I wanted to do, and I knew that this is not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I knew I did not want that to be the fo­cus. I de­cided to put the kids first and I have never re­gret­ted it. I’ve been so blessed, and blessed that fans still come to see me even though I have stopped mak­ing records.

You men­tioned be­ing in the busi­ness for 40 years. How are things dif­fer­ent now?

There were more nerves back then. I felt I had to live up to other peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions of what I should be. Record com­pa­nies need you to be out there pro­mot­ing a new al­bum or sin­gle, and there is an aw­ful lot of pres­sure that goes into it. The per­for­mance side of it felt like work. Now I don’t do it be­cause I have to. I do it be­cause I want to.

Has that changed your per­for­mances?

I en­joy it much more now, and as a re­sult, there is more ex­cite­ment, be­cause I re­ally look for­ward to the gigs I do. I don’t do a ton of them any­more.

And your kids changed things?

I ad­justed my life where it was go­ing to be

“I don’t care as much as I used to about what other peo­ple think. I feel more con­fi­dent, and do things for the love of it.” — Sheena

home time, fam­ily time and work time. It was not go­ing to be about be­ing on the road all of the time and drag­ging your kids ev­ery­where

— that is the life they once had to live. I es­tab­lished a rou­tine and put more time into my kids.

Now that they’re in their 20s, what’s it like for you?

I re­ally have it down to a rou­tine that I like. I have a very nor­mal home life. Last year I de­cided to do some­thing dif­fer­ent: I had not done theater or Broad­way in years, and I was asked if I wanted to go to Lon­don and do 42nd Street. I spent 14 months over there, did eight shows a week, came back in March and es­sen­tially took the rest of the year off. I told my agent, let’s book some gigs. I am ready to go back out there. Now we are gear­ing up to do one or two a month.

That’s great! When can we see you again?

It’s pretty much fundraiser ben­e­fits, cor­po­rate dates and a few pub­lic shows lined up in 2019. I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting back out and see­ing the fans again.

And your kids must love get­ting to hear you sing pri­vate con­certs to them!

Are you kid­ding? If I tried that, I got the eye roll. I would hear, “Mom, for God’s sake, enough!” Any child of an en­ter­tainer gets over it real fast.

Sheena nabbed a 1982 Best New Artist Grammy for her self-ti­tled 1981 de­but LP with “Morn­ing Train” and “Mod­ernGirl.”

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