Photo credit: TV One
Interview by La Trisha and La Tasha “Twins of Media”
Shanice exploded on the worldwide stage in the early ‘90s with four simple words – “I Love Your Smile.” Her 1991 #1 hit single landed in the Top 10 in 22 different countries. Known for a five-octave range and a signature smile that went with her most famous song, Shanice found success on both the Pop and R&B charts with songs like “Silent Prayer”, “When I Close My Eyes” and “Saving Forever For You,” from the popular “Beverly Hills 90210” soundtrack. The upcoming episode of Unsung features husband, actor Flex Alexander, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Shamicka Lawrence, and Ricky Bell of New Edition. In this exclusive interview with Beautifully Said she shares why her story should be told and in doing so— it prevented one woman from making a very drastic decision. From the highs and the lows, Shanice never gave up.
Congratulations on your episode of TV One’s “Unsung!” Why was it important to share your story?
I’m praying my story will encourage people to not give up. I’ve gone through the ups and downs. I’m a fighter, I just keep pushing and I want to encourage other people to do the same. You know, I get a lot of messages from fans asking me, what happened or why did you take such a long break? In doing “Unsung” I thought it would be important for fans to know what actually happened.
We had the chance to view the episode and it’s become one of our favorites.
Thank you! It was really emotional because it took me all the way back to the beginning. The good and bad times. Moments like when I gave birth to my kids and then you see them toward the end of the show and they’re big now. It was just a lot of emotions [Laughter].
What set you a part from other female artists in the 90’s and how would you describe your sound during that time?
I think everybody has their own unique sound. One thing I’ve always tried to do was to encourage people and be positive through my singing. I’ve had so many people tell me I might have said something in a lyric that helped them and that makes me feel really good. I’ve always tried to sing about things I know people are going through and giving people hope.
It’s the voice! Five-octaves girl…that five-octave range.
[Laughter] Thank you! I was always a Minnie Ripperton fan so I would always practice her songs. That’s how I started trying to hit those notes…that’s where it came from.
Your first song deal was through A&M Records with then label mate Janet Jackson. What do you recall of those memories?
I signed to A&M when I was 11. It was exciting for me because I was never forced to be in the industry. I’ve always wanted to do music since I was a baby so when I signed my first record deal my mom sat me down and asked, you sure this is what you want to do? You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. And I was like, No…this is really what I want to do. To have been able to live out my dreams at a young age was just incredible!
You and your husband Flex have been very candid about your financial struggles. A lot of celebrities don’t necessarily do so. Why did you decide to share this part of your life on reality television?
Well, In the beginning, I was hesitant about it. But love reality. I’m a reality show junkie [Laughter]. My husband, on the other hand, didn’t want to do it because he thought people would no longer take him seriously with his acting or comedy. I put up a vision board in 2007 and wrote reality show on it. This is something I really want to do and Flex was like…no, no, no, but when we went through our hard times around 2011; we lost our home my husband said, maybe we should do a show. Maybe we can encourage other people who are going through hardships right now as well. In 2014 is when we sat down with the OWN (Network) and pitched the idea. They picked us up right away. And we just felt like the timing was just perfect.
I will admit I was a little embarrassed at first because who wants to tell that story? There were some people who knew what we were going through but some didn’t because I kept it hidden. I remember the first time I saw the commercial for the reality show. My heart dropped. I was like, “Oh, God! Did I do the right thing?” But after it aired I got so many emails, tweets and comments about how it was a good show and that it was encouraging. This one lady was about to commit suicide because she and her husband lost their jobs, home and she told me, “I was literally about to kill myself and your show saved my life.”
It seems your story needed to be told to help others.
Yes, I now know sometimes you go through things so you can help others. We had a lot of people in the industry contact us. People that are entertainers that would not come forward publicly but they called us and said, you know what? I’m actually going through the same thing. I was like, “Wow! We’re not alone.”
What was it like having a show on OWN?
It was a great experience. We didn’t get to know Oprah but we met her twice and each time she was really nice. I heard she was really excited about the show. It was really cool being a part of OWN because Oprah does everything with class— so we didn’t have to make up fights or throw tables across the room. We were able to just be who we are and that was refreshing for us.
Would you do another reality show?
I would. My kids loved it and my family as well. We actually really enjoyed it! If we did another reality show Flex said he would just do a reoccurring appearance because he’s really focusing on his acting career. He wants to get back to scripted television.
How do fans approach you today with your most popular song, “I Love Your Smile?”
People always walk up to me and say, I love your smile! It never gets old for me.
Why should viewers tune into this Unsung episode?
I want people to see my story and realize they should not give up on their dreams, and whatever hard times they go through; they can make it. I’ve gone through so much and I could have given up a long time ago but I just want to encourage people to keep going!
What’s next for you musically?
I’m still doing music and performing shows with an upcoming date in Maryland on August 24. I love music! And I just refuse to let it go. Fans can purchase a couple of my singles out now on Itunes. One is called “Gotta Blame Me” and I also did a song called “Breakdown.” I’m also getting ready for a major tour and I will keep you all posted.
Nice talking to you Shanice!
Thank you so much for the interview. I enjoyed it!
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