Shena's vocal talents were first noticed at school by her music teacher and now she is one of the biggest voices in dance music.
Shena is a dance-floor phenomenon. Indeed, she may have attended the Royal Academy of Music (where she famously asked to leave classical classes by pointing out “I didn’t come here to sound like Kiri Te Kanawa”) but everything else about her suggests that she is a prodigy of a different order. Since those heady days, Shena has filled her musical resume by working with artists like James Brown, Jocelyn Brown, Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, Joss Stone, Sugababes and Amy Winehouse whilst providing central vocal roles on countless crossover dance hits (including ten Top 40 hits) such as Alex Gaudino’s Watch Out, De Souza’s monster track, Guilty and the massive Michael Gray dance floor hit The Weekend.
Naturally, on closer inspection, Shena turns out to be something of a contradiction. A devoted wife to James and mother to a little boy called Tyler, Shena has somehow managed to combine domestic bliss with a travel schedule that would put a foreign office minister to shame: incredibly Shena has performed live in fifteen cities in Russia alone and a typical weekend might encompass her dropping off Tyler at school then taking a three hour flight to Moscow followed by an eleven hour flight to Vladivostok where she is treated like a superstar. She’s also performed in countries like Moldova, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Serbia, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, Malta, France, USA, Australia, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and that’s just the ones she can remember! To put it bluntly, she is the original disco super-mum!
The album Twenty Seventy Nine has been produced by husband James Winchester who was recently hailed as “some kind of genius and the new Nile Rodgers” by the Guardian and features Shena’s last three singles including Can’t Stop The Rain (“the closest approximation of the magic created by Chic in the late 70s” – the Guardian), stomp-along anthem My Fantasy (“could happily be snuck on Earth, Wind & Fire’s Greatest Hits” – Attitude Magazine) and the heavenly hi-energy lament for togetherness that is Nasty Little Rumour. All three singles have received extensive support at national radio including extensive championing from Steve Wright, Terry Wogan and Ken Bruce and all three singles, as well as sparkling new tracks like Starship Dizcolicious, Dirty Money, How Come You’re Dancing? and Look, Don’t Touch, are being hailed as “dizco”; a movement that takes the lush and funky production, fantastic song-writing and amazing vocals of the late 70s and early 80s and fuses it with elements of cut-up disco, breaks, electro and disco-house to create a completely new sound. To cut to the chase for a moment, Shena has picked up the torch lit by Basement Jaxx.
Shena has also teamed up with several famed artists to release this year’s singles such as Take Me To The Stars featuring Nari & Milani and Cristian Marchi, and I’ll Be Waiting featuring Full Intention.
“Music goes in cycles,” explained James in a recent Sunday Times article, “and after Duffy and Adele reinvented 1960s girl singers, the thinking was that the next thing would be early 70s disco.” Nowadays, UK DJs raised on house, trance and techno are increasingly delving into their old vinyl collections to fill floors and regular nights run by Disco Bloodbath, Horse Meat Disco and LowLife in London, Melting Pot in Glasgow, Auto Disco in Dundee, El Diablo’s in Manchester and Basement Boogaloo in Nottingham are hitting the spot.
Shena is something else entirely, however: a uniquely compelling artist who is as aware of the future as she is of the past.