Although Shena Winchester may be an unfamiliar name to many, but her c.v already boasts a wealth of experience in performing arts. Despite early criticism from her teachers, Shena’s determination saw her through studies at the Royal Academy of music and on to work in musical theatre, and as a backing vocalist. She has appeared on stage with Mariah Carey, James Brown, Charlotte Church, and Amy Winehouse. Her first real taste of the limelight was singing on dance classic ‘The Weekend’ in 2004, and now she’s ready for a career as a solo artist. Shena speaks to music.co.uk after realising her debut single, the funk/soul styled ‘One Man Woman’.
1. Are you finding it a challenge reinventing yourself as a solo artist are backing/guesting for other people?
“I do find it a little bit of a challenge, but a positive one at that, and one that’s well worth fighting for. The most difficult part of that challenge that I’m finding, is with my mindset, which up until now has been programmed for backing vocal and dance diva success. So now I can’t be a shrinking violet anymore, because I have to show the world what I am made of.”
2. How do you find it moving between the different musical genres you’ve worked in?
“I absolutely love it, I hate to be pigeon-holed in to one music style when there more to me than that. To me a tune is a tune no matter where it comes from.”
3. Do you have a favourite musical? Is there any you’d like to appear in given the chance?
I don’t know if it’s because it’s new, or because it has my old pal Michael Ball starring in it, but I love Hairspray. In terms of appearances, I would also love to play Mama Morton in Chicago, she’s a true madam and diva in every sense of the word.”
4. You’re currently working on your debut album, what can people expect from this?
” Something really fresh and unique, it won’t sound like anything else out there at the moment. The aim of it is to try and create a full album filled with good songs, not just the traditional two that get released. The music is soulful, sincere, and very emotive.”
5. The London 2012 Olympics are fast approaching. With music and performance playing such a big part in ceremonies, what would you like to see at the London games?
” A spectacular display of the U.K as it will be in 2012. The show should reflect all the great things about the U.K, including hints of Wimbledon, The Music Scene, The West-End, The Royal Family, and Fashion.”
6. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
” Spending quality time with my son Tyler, going to concerts, cinema, and gorgeous restaurants, socialising with family and friends, watching comedy shows, learning languages, reading, and interior design.”
7. What has been your biggest live performance to-date?
” As a dance diva, that would have to be Gay Pride in Madrid about 3 years back, in front of 2 million people. As a backing vocalist, that would have to be Lisa Stansfield, Wembley Stadium, but I’m not sure of the date.”
8. Do you have any interesting stories to tell from your work with other artists?
” Only that I was one of the backing vocalists on the Charlotte Church Show with guest Amy Winehouse, when she put Youtube on the map with her antics. It was absolutely hilarious, and didn’t do her career any harm so why not?! Also James Brown made us jump when he asked us to, was very curt with his wife, who was also singing that day, and we had to call him Mr Brown (I guess that’s what one would expect for a legend).
9. What are your plans once you have finished and released your debut album?
” Work it to the max by doing live performances., go on holiday to the Caribbean to see my parents. Start writing the next one, as I’m not taking this golden opportunity for granted. It seems to be the artists with the great second albums to follow their first that are getting through. I intend to follow in that fashion. ”
You can find out more information about Shena, and listen to a taster of her new album at www.myspace.com/shenawinchester