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Sheena Easton

Emma Grey

I don’t know what I expected when I interviewed 80s pop icon, Sheena Easton, who’s currently working in Las Vegas and is to perform at the Canberra Southern Cross Club on 3 December.

But I know it wasn’t to leave the call fifteen minutes later feeling like I’d emerged from a chat with one of my friends.

As a HerCan correspondent from Jerra, you don’t expect to connect on a personal level with a multiple Grammy winner, rumoured to have once been worth $65 million, with international hits like “Morning Train”, the James Bond theme song “For Yours Eyes Only” and “We’ve Got Tonight” (with Kenny Rogers).

You don’t anticipate having a connection with someone who had a deliciously controversial background with Prince. Someone who’s acted in Miami Vice and other TV shows and starred on Broadway.

In a slightly shaky start to the interview, I fangirled a bit and admitted to Sheena that I’d danced around the lounge room using a hairbrush as a microphone singing “Morning Train” in Year 6.

I told her that “What Comes Naturally” had been played at our Year 12 Formal. (That might have been a bit of poetic license, but it was certainly a big song that year, and it probably was.) Her music, I explained, formed part of the soundtrack of my childhood.

Not only that, but my teenagers immediately recognised her songs when I explained who she was, as did my parents, who are in their 80s. Broad audience!

Sheena said that music ties us to moments in our lives.

“Sometimes it’s your prom, or falling in love with a guy and getting dumped… I can put on certain CDs in my car, and it will instantly transform me back to what was going on in my life. Music can change your mood. It can lift you up, or it can make you sad, too. Sometimes, if I’m listening to the radio, I’ve got to change the station…”

In Australia, Sheena is supported by ex Australian-idol contestant Cosima De Vito. We talked about modern TV talents shows and whether or not Sheena would have taken that route, had it been available to her when she was searching for her first big break.

“One thing I’ve really learned,” she said, “is you can have all the talent in the world, but if it’s not brought to the attention of the right person, you’ll be a person who’s singing in the background.”

That observation hit me hard. I thought about striving to get my novel published, and about the dreams of some of my friends, who are holding back…

“I can very much remember when it connected in my own brain that I had to sing to make myself happy. There’s a point where you go, ‘this is what I need to do to fulfill myself’,” she says.

“Usually, you’re taking lessons or practicing at home to get that talent to grow. You need to go out and share it. There are so many outlets now—the TV shows, and the thing we didn’t have, back in the 80s, which is the internet. Now, with the internet and social media, a talented kid can record themselves singing on basic equipment, post a clip on YouTube and, if they get a following, they can have record companies come to their door. I would urge people to take whatever chance you get to take your talent and get it out there and get noticed.”

What I loved was how ‘real’ she was: “I don’t feel like I need to measure up and be this ideal,” she said. “My fans have grown up beside me. We’ve all changed together. I can include cover songs from other artists. I’m more relaxed. More my true self up there now…”

For self-indulgent reasons, I asked for her advice to 17-year-olds, about life, career and end-of-school pressure.

Her two children are twenty-one and nineteen. It was comforting to hear a once pop-star say, “My kids now talk to me like I’m not a complete idiot. When I was seventeen I thought I knew it all. I went to college and got my first apartment and was in my first band… but it’s never as bad as they think when they’re going through something tough. Whatever is going on is going to change. In the long game, it’s not as important as you think…

“If you’re genuinely trying your best at something, and if you’re genuinely giving you 100%, nobody can fault you if you come up short. Cut yourself some slack…”

I asked her a for a message for my American friend, Michael. He’s a military historian who confessed to having a HUGE crush on her back in the day.

“You tell Michael that this fifty-six year-old takes it as a huge compliment,” she said, and then she encouraged him to come up and talk with her at one of her shows. I passed this on, and he’s dragging his wife along and will do that…

She came across as that person. The pop star you can chat with.

I thought back to the unpopular, ‘square’ kid that I was when her hits were huge and thought, “She’s just a person. And so am I.”

the essentials
What: Sheena Easton
When: Thursday 3 December 2015
Where: Canberra Southern Cross Club
How much: Dinner and show – 6pm – $99, show only – 8pm – $69, dinner/Show/Meet & Greet – $150
Book tickets: here.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author