Shèna, described as a ‘legendary dance vocalist’ by Radio 1’s Scott Mills and ‘the UK’s favorite dance diva’ by Heat magazine, is also instantly recognizable as the voice of some of the biggest club hits of the past two decades, including ‘Hold on-Freemasons’, ‘Dare Me-Junior Jack’, ‘Watch out-Alex Gaudino’, ‘Guilty-De Souza’, ‘Nothing I won’t do-JX’, ‘Nothing better-Erick Morillo’, Michael Gray’s ‘The Weekend’ and several other UK chart hits.
The name Shèna is the Scottish form of Jane which means “God is gracious”. Anyway, Tracey Elizabeth is your official “civil” name. Why did you take “Shena” as your artistic name?
I took the name Shèna because I have always hated my birth name Tracey, as it is associated with very cheap and easy girls in the UK. Also my Record label, Virgin, asked me to change it as there were too many Tracey’s around at the time, so I did. For me Shèna means diva and entrepreneur.
What do your relatives and friends call you?
My parents and a few cousins were the only ones who would not accept my change of name. Now only one aunty and a few cousins still call me Tracey.
Yes, the album will be entitled, “In memory of…”… and it is inspired by my favorite artist of all time, Whitney Houston and dedicated to my late husband, James Winchester, who was an exceptional musician and producer. The album is my difficult journey of coming to terms with losing the love of my life, trying to make sense of it all and then trying to move on.
Talking about your loss… About a couple months ago you posted on your Facebook that your relationship with everyone and everything has changed. That was a few months after you’ve lost your beloved husband James. How did the relationships change? How would you describe your life before and after the loss?
Before my loss I was carefree and didn’t stress about anything, also I never felt the need to speak up about anything that bothered me, but now I am not afraid to fight injustice and bad behavior. My relationship has changed with everyone and everything because I didn’t realize there was so much love in the world until my husband died! So many people showed up to his funeral and the love that has been shown to myself and Tyler is and was unbelievable. Also I have this new belief that if someone or something is not adding any value to your life then it has to go. I am now much more assertive.
If he wants to become a musician like his father and myself then he has my blessing although it is a tough career to pursue thanks to downloading, but he loves YouТube videos and movies. He also has a very active imagination and his favorite movie of all time is Jurassic World, so I think filmmaking like Steven Spielberg is where he’s heading at the moment.
Your musical career began as a backing vocalist for Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, Sugarbabes, James Brown, Girls Aloud and others. Then you started your solo career. In the meantime, a lot of singers with amazing voices keep working as backing vocalists and never make it to a solo career … What qualities should a person have to become an artist, not just a backing singer?
You have to want to be in the front and know that invariably you are much more talented than the majority of the artists you back. You should never get too complacent standing at the back and just singing harmonies. Also you need to be a good songwriter or know a good songwriter as every great artist has their own signature tune, which is why they are artists and not just singers.
When I first met you, you had 2 one-night shows in St. Petersburg, Russia. The next morning when I drove you back to the airport, you were sleeping on the back seat… you had a crazy tour schedule back then… Do you still perform this much? What help you to feel better after multiple flights and night shows?
No I don’t still perform this much. I have a young son to think about I don’t think it’s very practical anymore. What helps me is to meditate as often as possible and spending quality time with my family. A good night’s sleep is also another way to cure the problem.
What music do you listen to at home?
Anything Whitney Houston or I have an iTunes playlist of the latest cool pop tunes on it like Uptown Funk.
What’s your favorite song of all time?
“I will always love you” because it was performed by, in my humble opinion, the greatest female vocalist of all time and whilst I was singing it in a Karaoke bar in Spain, my late husband, James, proposed to me. No one can sing it as well as Whitney did though.
Being a British singer, do you feel any difference between American and British music?
I think the British have the edge on the pop sound and the world looks to them for cutting edge music. Americans for me have the best singers and artists. I look to them for vocal perfection.
Do you write your songs by yourself? Is it easier to write when you’re sad or when you’re happy? What was the last song you wrote about?
I write nearly all my songs myself and can write according to where my emotions are at that moment. My new album will have a few sad songs on there but also many positive ones as well. The last song I wrote was entitled, “Back on track” which is how I feel about trying to get my life back together again.
Let’s imagine if you met the most powerful person in the world… What would you ask him/her?
I would ask him or her what is the best solutions to the issues that plague the earth.
And what would you change in the whole world?
I would make everybody ‘pay it forward’ 3 times and not just in money either. It could be time, patience, tolerance or whatever.
What would you change in music world?
I would also ban all reality TV talent shows, because they are fake and now too many talentless individuals think they’re Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston!