Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.
Scottish recording artist Sheena Easton crashed the big ‘80s with such hits as "9 to 5" and "For Your Eyes Only." Her later work with Prince also proved a success, spawning "Strut," "Sugar Walls" and "U Got the Look."
Easton, a two-time Grammy Award winner, has recorded 16 studio albums - 6 Gold albums and 1 Platinum - and has sold over 20 million records worldwide.
She pursued acting with television roles from Miami Vice to Young Blade along with voiceover work in cartoons, including All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 and Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.
Today, Easton lives in Nevada with her two children.
ChicagoPride.com's Jerry Nunn interviews Sheena Easton before she arrives in Chicago for Market Days Weekend where she will perform on the Roscoe Entertainment Stage, Sunday, August 12.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hi, Sheena. I have been listening to your music since the record days.
SE: (Sheena Easton) Thank you. It is good to know somebody is as old as that.
JN: (laughs) Your real name is Sheena?
SE: Yes, it is.
JN: Is that a common name in Scotland where you are from?
SE: No, it's not terribly common but I am not the only Sheena alive. When I was in school I only knew one other Sheena. It is actually a Gaelic name.
JN: Are you a Spanish speaker?
SE: Oh, are you talking about the Grammy I got for Best Mexican-American Performance?
JN: Yes for your duet with Luis Miguel.
SE: No, I am not a Spanish speaker but for that project they brought in a dialect coach and a translator. All of the lyrics were translated so I understood what I was singing in terms of context of the songs but I couldn't go out and have a long conversation with somebody afterwards.
JN: You have done a lot of crossovers as far as multiple charts from R&B to Country to Dance.
SE: I am from the generation where a pop singer meant that you sang basically every form of music that was popular. I'm from the old school of music. I grew up listening to pretty much everything that was out there and stuff that was out there way back in the day before my time to contemporary. I guess it is just generational. I have two teenagers and I don't tend to hear them listening to as much retro stuff as I listened to. I guess it was the time I came up in I suppose.
JN: What is it like having two teenagers?
SE: We don't have enough time to discuss that! Teenagers are not the same as having kids. When you have kids you worship and adore your kids. Then an alien spaceship comes down in the night when you are not expecting it and puts teenagers there. You have these little alien beings and I am told that the spaceship comes back sometimes in their twenties and puts your kids back again.
Teenage years for most parents are a mystery. It is always flowing and changing. You just have to follow along.
JN: Has it influenced you and made you want to Facebook or Twitter?
SE: Oh, hell no, the opposite in fact. You won't find me tweeting or anything else. I'm a very private person. I don't understand this fascination that people have with putting every single thing you have done public. That was one of the things in my business that I least liked was having to talk to people about my private life. So I don't understand people that aren't in the entertainment industry volunteering to do that! Your privacy is a treasured thing. Why would you give that up? Social media is not really my thing.
JN: So you won't be doing a reality television show anytime soon?
SE: No, not unless I can fake it like more other reality shows around today. I keep telling my kids, "Look how many writers on that show. Do you think that all just happened naturally?" That might be a conflict of interest. If I could do a fake reality show where someone comes in and I throw a plate at them then that might be fun! A real reality show? That's a hell no!
JN: You have performed in a few Broadway shows like Grease and Man of La Mancha. Do you watch Glee or Smash with your teenagers?
SE: No, my children are not interested in that. My daughter is really allergic to musicals. She hates the concept of musicals. I love musicals. I grew up watching musical films all the time. We didn't have much access to theaters so our version of musicals was all of those wonderful old films. She doesn't get it. She wants to know why someone would just burst into song. My son is seventeen and is into playing his guitar.
I do watch Smash. I love that one. I can't wait for it to come back.
JN: You are coming to Chicago for Market Days. When was the last time you have been here?
SE: I really don't know because I travel constantly. I been asked if I played somewhere before and didn't think so then I looked on the wall where I had signed a poster there before. It could have been months ago or a year.
JN: You are stationed in Vegas though currently?
SE: Yes, I am.
JN: So you will be used to the heat if it's a hot day then.
SE: Whoever gets used to the heat? But yeah I know what you mean. It will be hot. I have done plenty of the street festivals before and they are a blast. The energy when you get out to that is so much fun. You don't notice the heat or anything else. It is such a great positive atmosphere. They are there to have a great time so that makes it such a blast.
JN: And you have longtime gay fans like myself…
SE: Heyyy, what can I say? Where would I be without you? (sings) "How am I supposed to live without you?"
JN: You are so sweet. I was a big Prince fan also.
SE: Me, too. Who isn't? If you are not a Prince fan then you are a Communist.
JN: How was it working with him in general?
SE: He is one of my favorite producers that I have ever worked with. There have been two or three producers in my life that I have credited to helping me grow as an artist. He is one of those people that you go in the studio and he doesn't give you time to over learn to over prepare. When we worked together it would be spur of the moment. I would get a phone call and he would say he had great stuff and to run down to the studio. I would get there and he would say, "Just go in there and sing it." I wouldn't even know it yet but he would want me to sing it anyway. If I went off an area like on "U Got the Look" and I went off the melody then he would just want to keep it and work on it. I think it was a great quality to have as a producer. I have also been in there with the opposite where the producer has a script and knows exactly what he thinks the song should sound like. Yourself or other artists involved with it will suggest another path. There is no going off and trying it. I don't enjoy working with formulaic people. I find them very stifling. Prince is the opposite to that. He's just a real true creative soul.
JN: What kind of set list can people expect at Market Days?
SE: They will hear a bunch of hits. I am a real believer in doing your hits. I am not one those "oh I am so tired of this song. I can't sing it again." I hate that crap. When I buy a ticket to go see an artist I want to hear the songs that I know. So it depends on how much time is allotted to my performance. You have to tailor it to the time you have whether it is an hour or an hour and half. We will put together a set that flows well with the time allotted. The bulk of it will be hits and one or two other songs that are in there that I have added but I will explain why I am performing that particular song.
JN: Any other projects you want to talk about?
SE: I have just been doing the usual. I just came back from Detroit last weekend. I am taking July off and the kids and I are going to California on vacation. My life is about taking care of my kids and performing on the weekends a couple of weekends a month. So I go out and travel the country to perform all over at music centers, casinos, and you name it. It is a pretty good life actually.
Sheena Easton performs at Northalsted Market Days, Sunday, August 12 at 5:30 p.m. on the Roscoe Entertainment. Market Days spans six city blocks and features three music stages with more than 40 musical acts performing, including Olivia Newton-John, The Pointer Sisters, Adam Barta, Eric Himan and Matt Zarley.