Sheena Shirley Orr, or more popularly known as Sheena Easton, is a Scottish singer, songwriter, and actress. Her first project in the industry was in an episode of the first British musical reality television program called, “The Big Time: Pop Singer”. The show recorded her attempts to earn a record contract as well as her eventual signing with EMI Records.
Sheena Easton is best known for her singles such as “Morning Train”, “For Your Eyes Only” which is a James Bond movie theme song, “Strut”, and as well as with her collaborations with Kenny Rogers and Prince. Aside from her several hits, she also won two Grammy Awards.
She has also delved into acting over the years and in other business ventures as well. She still continues to perform until today while raising two adopted children.
Background and Personal Life
Sheena Easton was born in Bellshill, Scotland on April 27, 1959. She is the youngest of six children of a steel mill laborer, Alex Orr and his wife Annie. Sheena has two brothers, Robert and Alex, and three sisters, Marilyn, Anessa, and Morag. Her very first public performance as a singer was in 1964 when she was only five years old. She sang “Early One Morning” in her uncle and aunt’s 25th wedding anniversary celebration.
In 1969, Sheena Easton’s father died and her mother was left to support their family. Even though her mother was left with so many responsibilities, she’s still always available for her children. This is the reason why Sheena always speaks very highly of her mom, especially about how she brought her up and her siblings.
Sheena Easton really didn’t consider a singing career until she watched the movie, “The Way We Were”, with Barbara Streisand. Barbara’s singing over the opening credits inspired and convinced her that she wanted to be a singer and to have the same influence on others.
She got high grades in school that helped her earn a scholarship for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. She trained there as a speech and drama teacher by day, and sang with a band called “Something Else” by night in local clubs from 1975 to 1979. Sheena chose to study teaching over performing because it will help her perfect her craft as a singer.
Sheena has been married four times and she has two adopted children. Her first husband was Sandi Easton but they divorced after eight months. Even though their marriage did not last long, she still decided to keep the surname Easton. Her second marriage was in 1984 with Rob light who is a talent agent. Their marriage lasted for about 18 months.
In 1992, Sheena Easton became a US citizen, earning her dual citizenship with the United Kingdom. She then adopted her first child in 1994, Jake Rion Cousins Easton, and after a couple of years, she adopted a baby girl named Skylar.
In the summer of 1997, she met Tim Delam, a producer and they got married in Las Vegas in July of the same year. However, their marriage only lasted for a year. And on November 9, 2002, she married a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon named John Minoli, but they divorced in 2003. In the present time, Sheena Easton resides in Henderson, Nevada.
In 1979, one of Sheena Easton’s tutors pushed her to audition for Esther Rantzen, the producer of BBC program, “The Big Time”. It was a show focused on amateurs who are trying to reach their dreams. Sheena Easton was then selected for the role.
After a year of the program airing, the EMI executives awarded her a contract and Christopher Neil became her producer, while Deke Arlon was her first manager. Her 1980 was spent being followed by cameramen who filmed her through the process of creating her first single in EMI with the title, “Modern Girl”. That reached number 56 on the charts and was certified a Silver single.
When the show ended, Sheena Easton was still unsure of her future as a singer but this changes when her second single, “Morning Train”, was released. It’s because it reached number 3 on the UK Singles Chart and in 1980, it was certified a Gold single. It was also during the 1980 when she was voted by the Daily Mirror Pop and Rock Awards as the “Best British Female Singer.
“Morning Train” was Sheena Easton’s first and only number 1 hit in the US which topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts in Billboard magazine. Before 1981 came, she had another top hit in both the US and UK which is the song, “For Your Eyes Only”, the theme song of a James Bond movie. It was nominated for an Academy Awards and Golden Globe Award in 1982 in the category, “Best Music (Original Song). Sheena Easton’s success in the US made her won a Grammy Award for “Best New Artist” of 1981.
Sheena Easton was also one of the first artists to record “Wind Beneath My Wings” that later became a hit for Bette Midler. She had her first US tour in 1982, and her concert in Los Angeles was recorded and broadcasted on HBO and later on released on VHS with the title, “Sheena Easton Live at the Palace, Hollywood”.
Sheena Easton had a duet with Kenny Rogers in January 1983 with the song, “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)”.
Controversial Prince Song
On Sheena Easton’s 1984 album, “A Private Heaven”, she went for more of a dance vibe and a sexier persona. It included another top 10 hit for her with “Strut”. It’s a song about a woman who refuses to be a man’s plaything.
The album also contains a somewhat scandalous song, “Sugar Walls” which was written and produced by Prince. That song reached number 3 on the R&B charts. In 1987, Sheena and Prince worked together again on Prince’s hit song, “U Got the Look” and “The Arms of Orion” which was Batman 1989 soundtrack.
The song “Sugar Walls” was targeted by Tipper Gore from the Family Resource Center for its suggestiveness. However, Sheena Easton stood up to the criticism and in the same year, she was honored as the only artist in history to have top 5 hits on Billboard’s five major charts which are adult contemporary, country, dance, R&B and pop.
Collaboration with L.A. Reid and Babyface
Sheena Easton won another Grammy Award in 1985 for Best Mexican-American Performance for a duet with Luis Miguel. In 1989, she released the album, “The Lover in Me” that has an urban contemporary sound and production from L.A. Reid and Babyface. The duo worked on Easton’s dance-oriented title track.
She then collaborated again with Prince for the songs “101” and “Cool Love”. In 1993, Sheena Easton released “No Strings” which is a collection of jazz and blues with songwriters such as Irving Berlin and the Gershwin brothers. Another album followed in 1995 which was called “My Cherie”. And in 2009, aside from her occasional live performances, Sheena also recorded songs for Disney’s animated series “Phineas and Ferb”.
2015 to Present
Sheena Easton Embarked on symphony concerts in 2015 with guest vocalists, “The Spy Who Loved Me” with material from spy movies of the past and present. It also featured Bond style music with symphonies. The concerts were held around the United States. In the latter part of 2015, she also performed a small tour in Australia that featured her Greatest Hits.
She is recently busy with her numerous appearances in Las Vegas. That is where she’s been a major attraction for in the last two decades. In fact, she was recently inaugurated to the Las Vegas Hall of Fame.
Sheena Easton’s Acting Career and Other Endeavors
Aside from being a singer and songwriter, Sheena Easton also had an acting career. She appeared on several episodes of Miami Vice in 1987 as Caitlin Davies who is the wife of Don Johnson’s character named Detective James “Sonny” Crockett. Through the years, there were many acting work that followed for her such as her cameo in the 1993 film Indecent Proposal, and a regular role in 2005 on PAX’s Young Blades.
Sheena Easton also ventured onto Broadway where she starred in two musical revivals in the 1990s which are the, “Man of La Mancha” and “Grease”. Aside from being an artist, she also had a business venture in 2000 through creating a line of angel figurines. These figurines were sold on QVC.
Sheena Easton is another great artist who have created timeless hits. Her story proves that dreams really do come true when you work hard for it.
Sheena Easton’s Remarkable Songs
1. For Your Eyes Only
This song was the theme song of the 12th James Bond film. The song was co-written by Bill Conti and Mick Leeson, who also composed the soundtrack for the movie. This is the only James Bond film theme song where the singer can be seen on screen while singing the song. Sheena Easton can be seen performing the music at the film’s beginning.
In this song, the phrase “For Your Eyes Only” describes a woman who makes special efforts for her boyfriend. He gets something from her that liberates her, and the emotion he stirs up from the Girl is only for him.
This song was first offered to Blondie, but Debbie Harry declined because she didn’t like the submissive attitude of the lyrics. Later, Chris Stein of Harry and Blondie composed a song for the movie. Still, Bond producer Albert Broccoli didn’t like it, so he requested that Sheena Easton sing the song Conti and Leeson originally wrote. In 1981, the song received an Academy Award nomination for “Best Music (Original Song)” Easton won the Grammy for Best New Artist even though her song didn’t win.
2. Morning Train (Nine to Five)
This song is considered one of the greatest Sheena Easton songs ever. When it was published as the UK’s follow-up to Modern Girl and as her debut single in the US, the song catapulted Easton into the mainstream. It peaked at number one on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, earning it the designation of 1981’s twelfth-best musical success. It is an absurdly catchy melody, and Easton delivers a magnificent performance that makes it clear why she was one of the ’80s’ biggest stars.
This song was originally titled “9 To 5,” depicting a man that rides the train to work, completes his eight hours, and then comes home to amuse his wife with movies, dancing, or anything else she desires. This song depicts a unique vision of suburban contentment. However, it was changed to a different name in the US to avoid confusion with the Dolly Parton hit. The actual experiences of Sheena and the figure that Easton portrays in the song are totally different. While recording the music, she had just undergone a divorce, was 20 years old, and was on the verge of becoming a worldwide sensation when the song was first released.
The song paved the way for many opportunities for the gorgeous and talented singer. She was considered the first reality TV celebrity to become famous. She appeared on The Big Time, a BBC program that follows regular people on their paths to achievement, in 1980. Easton was given a made-for-TV audition with EMI, which transformed into a genuine one when they saw how gorgeous and talented she was. Before the episode aired, EMI published Easton’s debut single, “Modern Girl,” and it reached the top position of #56. After the show was televised, “9 To 5” was released, and the publicity helped propel it to the top of the UK charts, where it peaked at #3.
The song peaked in the UK in August 1980 but in America in May 1981. Easton had developed into a more sophisticated and media-savvy person by the time she became popular in America, which aided her promotional efforts there. She won Best New Artist at the 1982 Grammy Awards.
3. Sugar Walls
Prince created this song mainly for Easton. While working on both his Purple Rain stage production and her A Private Heaven CD, engineer David Leonard became their connection. Easton begged Leonard to deliver a message to the Purple Maestro because she lacked the confidence to ask him directly for a partnership. She was shocked when Prince’s reply included the backing tapes for this funk-filled, innuendo-filled song.
A song with a vaginal euphemism in the title shocked some people. The sensual content of Prince’s lyrics caused an airplay ban in some regions, and the song’s video was among the first to be blocked due to its contents rather than its visuals. The song was also included on Tipper Gore’s “Filthy Fifteen” list of songs deemed objectionable due to their explicit lyrics, maintained by the Parents’ Music Resource Council. Easton disputed the song’s overt sexual content. Without being too pretentious, “Sugar Walls” was just another song that was an artistic representation of a romantic, sexual connection.
Easton and Prince continued to collaborate; she sang on the Purple One’s records “U Got The Look” and “The Arms of Orion,” He also wrote several other songs specifically for her. Easton stated that she and Prince were not romantically involved despite the claims that they were romantically involved.
4. Modern Girl
The “Modern Girl” was released as Sheena Easton’s debut song. The song was first released in February 1980 and peaked at number 56 on the UK charts. It was re-issued in August of that year and reached the top 10. When it was released in 1981 as her second single, following the #1 success “Morning Train (9 to 5),” the song also entered the US top 20.
Modern Girls showcased a bright, electronic pop sound that was uncommon then. There is no disputing, though, the youthful charm of this early hit, which mixes an infectious Easton performance with a delightfully catchy melody. It’s a little absurd and cute as far as early ’80s pop confections go, but it’s difficult to hate.
5. Almost Over You
Sheena Easton released the single “Almost Over You” in 1983 as part of her Best Kept Secret album. Jennifer Kimball and Cindy Richardson wrote this song for Easton. The song peaked at number four in Adult Contemporary and number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100, and 35 in Canada Adult Contemporary chart. In her song Almost Over You, Easton portrays a lady who is (almost) over her ex-lover despite having been left abused and broken by him.
With the song “Big, Theatrical Ballad,” which reached number four on the US Adult Contemporary chart and number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983, Easton added another hit to her discography. It ranked first on the Adult Contemporary chart in Canada and was considerably more popular there. For her self-titled first album, Lila, country singer Lila McCann performed the song Almost Over You in 1997. The third single from the album, released in 1998, peaked at number 42 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. This song was also recreated by two Filipino singers, Janno Gibbs, in 1999 and Karylle Marquez in 2009.