When her career began to soar in the early 1980s with a series of No. 1 and Top 10 singles, singer Sheena Easton’s management team received offers for her to perform in some of the biggest and most prestigious venues in the world.
But as much as she enjoyed working the big rooms, she wouldn’t turn down gigs in smaller showrooms.
“I have played so many different types of venues during my whole career, right from the very beginning, and I truly believe that’s what’s allowed me to continue working as an artist for 40 years,” Easton, 60, says during a recent phone call from her Las Vegas home.
“I’ll go from doing a casino one day to a concert hall the next to an outdoor venue to a small nightclub,” she adds. “It’s just wonderful to be able to go and do different kinds of music in different kinds of venues.”
Although most would label her a pop singer based on her hits like “Modern Girl,” “9 to 5 (Morning Train),” “For Your Eyes Only” and others, that’s really just one segment of her material and her vocal range.
“I’ve always had a broad and eclectic taste in music. I grew up that way with lots of different influences from all my brothers and sisters, who were older, and my parents, and I’ve continued along that way,” she says. And with two kids in their 20s, Easton is always being introduced to the latest sounds.
“They bring me stuff by brand new artists that I’ve never heard of who are doing some amazing things out there,” she says. “So I’m constantly listening to new stuff.”
But her audience will likely hear most of her memorable hits, mixed in with some newer material, when she performs 8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, in the Superstar Theater at Resorts Casino Hotel. The show is a fundraiser for the Schultz-Hill Foundation to support its mission of bringing a variety of arts and entertainment programs to the region.
Easton recorded some of the most memorable hits of the early 1980s, but like many artists, she made the mistake of growing bored singing the same songs every night. So she began leaving a few hits out of the show.
That mistake didn’t last long.
“I went through that phase a lot of artists do when I was saying (to myself) that I just don’t want to play these hit (songs) any more, I really wanna play new material,” she explains. “And that is so wrong. What it really taught me was the audience had come specifically to hear the music that they love. And it’s very selfish of the artist, I think, to just get out there (on stage) and ignore that fact.”
Easton remembers how she’d feel when she’d go to a show expecting to hear some favorite material, only to discover the entertainer left it out of the set list.
“I can’t do exactly the same show every time, that would make it boring for everybody,” she says. “But I do like to include the core hits in there. I’ll change them up. I’ll take some of them out of the lineup for a little bit and then put them back in, and they kind of sound fresh and new again. But the fans will always hear the key songs they’re expecting to hear, plus some surprises.”
Easton has worked with a variety of artists over the years, but the one that produced the most musical excitement was when she teamed up with Prince to record a duet on his 1987 song “U Got the Look” from his double-album “Sign o’ the Times.”
Easton didn’t get credited when the single was released, but there’s no denying it was the voice of the Scottish-born singer, who now maintains dual Scottish-American citizenship.
Easton insists there was nothing unusual about the him-and-her vocal pairing.
“It’s not like there’s some incredible story there. Like most professional collaborations, he liked my voice and he wanted to work with me,” she says. “We actually had a sound engineer in common. He was working on my album and working with Prince at the time. (Prince) sent a demo over and (asked my producer) if I wanted to do this song with him. And that’s how it got started. We collaborated on several things over the years. Every time I would go into the studio with him, it was always magic. I just learned so much because he was such a unique talent.”
Another fond career memory was when she was asked to sing the theme song to the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.” Being asked to sing the movie theme is considered a major honor for any artist.
Others who have done it include Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Paul McCartney and Wings, Carly Simon, Gladys Knight and Tina Turner and others big-name artists.
“It was fabulous, especially as you get older and you realize you’re in this kind of little club where there’s only a certain amount of people who can say, ‘Yep, I’ve done a ‘Bond’ theme,’” Easton says with a little laugh. “It’s lovely to perform that song, too, because when I sing it — and it doesn’t matter where I am in the world — that song is one of the favorites because the ‘Bond’ movies are played all over the world. So I’ve always been very grateful for that song.”