Classics: Shanice – I Love Your Smile (Motown)
‘I Love Your Smile’, a swingin’ gem which, close to thirty years after its release, still expresses the same freshness…
Although she released her first album back in 1987 on A&M, Shanice Wilson would only come to international recognition four years later. This when makin’ her debut on Motown (with her stage name shortened to Shanice) with the Narada Michael Walden produced ‘Inner Child’ album. Eventually scoring her biggest success to date with the groovy ‘I Love Your Smile’. Itself featuring Brandford Marsalis on saxophone…
– It has always been about the voice for Shanice. Boasting a five-octave range, which she handles with beauty and ease, Shanice began her career scatting with the late great legendary Ella Fitzgerald for a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial at the tender age of 8. Three years later, she went on to become the grand champion of ‘Star Search’. Her first album saw the light when she was fourteen. But it was her worldwide smash, ‘I Love Your Smile’, a Pop hit in twenty two countries, that brought her a Grammy nomination, Germany’s Golden Lion Award and international stardom!
She would become the very first recording artist to perform on the ‘Tonight Show with Jay Leno’. At a very young age, with her incredible vocal mastery, Shanice just set the standard that many young singers have followed since.
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Shanice relocated to Los Angeles, CA with her mom and aunt who also happened to be interested in pursing careers in the music industry. They quite quickly forgot about their wish to become a star though and focused on raisin’ up the young Shanice.
In 1987, at the age of 14, she unleashed her debut-album – ‘Discovery’ – on A&M as Shanice Wilson. With production work courtesy of Bryan Loren (remember ‘Lollipop Luv’?), it spawned two Top 10 R&B hits. In other words, ‘(Baby Tell Me) Can You Dance’ and ‘No ½ Steppin”. And from then, she went on to sign a deal with Motown during the Summer of 1990. Thus resulting in the release of her ‘Inner Child’ album the year after. Itself featuring ‘I Love Your Smile’, her biggest classic ever, with Narada Michael Walden in charge of the production. This in addition to the smooth ‘Lovin’ You’. A cover version of Minnie Riperton‘s classic. Itself brilliantly showcasing her ability to sing in the whistle register.
Three years later, Shanice delivered her follow-up album ’21… Ways to Grow’. An effort out of which ‘I Like’ eventually came to the attention. This with its additional remixes courtesy of Masters At Work. The lady switching to LaFace Records in 1997 then releasing her eponymous album in 1999. Although without generating any significant following. No more than anymore of her subsequent albums from then as a matter of fact.
Shanice has contributed to various film soundtracks. Such as ‘Boomerang’ (“Don’t Wanna Love You”). But also ‘The Meteor Man’ (“It’s for You”) and Beverly Hills 90210 (‘Saving Forever for You’). Not to mention ‘If I Never Knew You’, a duet with Jon Secada, for the original soundtrack of Disney‘s 1995 film ‘Pocahontas’.
Last but not least, she occasionally managed to do background vocals for other artits. Such as on ‘Come On Over Here’ and ‘Un-Break My Heart’ for Toni Braxton. This in addition to ‘Bedtime’ for Usher. Meanwhile 2010 saw her performing the vocals on ‘Behind The Mask’. This as a part of Michael Jackson‘s posthumous ‘Michael’ album. And she also happened to record music for a couple of video games during the following years.
– “All the roads lead to Rome…” is the first expression coming to mind when thinking of Narada Michael Walden‘s career. Nothing could predict – and probably not the man neither himself – his transformation… From his early musical leanings, geared towards Rock, to his repertoire, one of the richest in the history of Disco/Funk.
Playing in a Rock group (the New McGuire Sisters) in Miami, he discovered the music of Mahavishnu Orchestra before meeting their leader, John McLaughlin. A group which he would join a few months later, replacing famous drummer Billy Cobham who was a major influence to him. He recorded two albums with them, then joined Beck as a producer and musician on his ‘Wired’ album in 1975.
Walden delivered his first LP – ‘Garden Of Love Light’ the year after on Atlantic. He would nevertheless have to wait until 1978 to score his first significant success with ‘I Don’t Want Nobody Else (To Dance With You)’. A success amplified the year after with the release of ‘I Shoulda Loved Ya’ and ‘Tonight I’m Alright’ from his ‘The Dance Of Life’ album. Extra gems followed such as ‘I Want You’ (1980), ‘Summer Lady’ (1982) and ‘Reach Out’. The man resurfacing by the end of the 80’s as Narada with the memorable ‘Divine Emotions’…
Last but not least, his name is associated to a myriad of artists, as a writer or producer. From Stacy Lattisaw (‘Jump To The Beat’, ‘Dynamite’, ‘Sixteen’, ‘Block Party’. These in addition to ‘Don’t You Want To Feel It’). To Sister Sledge (‘All American Girls’) and Angela Bofill (‘Something About You’). But also Aretha Franklin (‘Who’s Zooming Who?’, ‘Freeway Of Love’) and Whitney Houston (‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, ‘So Emotional’). And we can add too Wanda Walden (‘Don’t You Want My Lovin”, ‘I Must Be Dreamin”), George Benson and Clarence Clemons among others. Not to mention Carl Carlton (‘Swing That Sexy Thang’) and Shanice‘s memorable ‘I Love Your Smile’…