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Issue 1084

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Feature

Deniece Pearson: Shining Star

Deniece Pearson @bluesandsoul.com
Deniece Pearson @bluesandsoul.com

As a taster for her forthcoming, as-yet-untitled debut solo album (due in June), former Five Star lead-singer Deniece Pearson this month releases a new solo single - the acoustic-guitar-driven, lilting R&B/pop ballad âClose To Nowhereâ.

Born Denise Lisa Maria Pearson in Romford, Essex in June 1968, Deniece would first find international fame alongside her brothers and sisters (Stedman, Delroy, Doris and Lorraine) in aforementioned pop/R&B family quintet Five Star. Who - initially put together in 1983 by their father-cum-manager, former session musician Buster Pearson - would from 1985 to 1988 go on to attain unprecedented chart success with a string of UK Top 30 singles, peaking with the Top Ten smashes âSystem Addictâ, âCanât Wait Another Minuteâ, âFind The Timeâ, âRain Or Shineâ, âStay Out Of My Lifeâ and âThe Slightest Touchâ. Meanwhile, their four UK Top 20 albums (1985âs Platinum-selling âLuxury Of Lifeâ; 1986âs chart-topping, Quadruple-Platinum âSilk And Steelâ; 1987âs Platinum âBetween The Linesâ; and 1988âs Silver-certified âRock The Worldâ) would impressively additionally find the Pearson siblings - famed for their flamboyant image, matching costumes and slickly-choreographed dance routines - impressively also scoring Top Ten success on the US R&B and Dance charts, while prestigiously picking up both a BRIT Award (1987, Best British Group) and Grammy nomination along the way.

Nevertheless, the end of the decade would sadly find the quintetâs popularity decidedly on the wane. Which - amidst rapidly-declining record sales and even reports of bankruptcy - would eventually lead to them in 1991 relocating to California. Where, unable to regain past chart glories, they would remain until the trio of Stedman, Deniece and Lorraine returned to the UK to perform as Five Star in 2002. Since which time (Deniece having moved back permanently to the UK in 2005) numerous partial live reunions have taken place - with the original five-member line-up finally reuniting for the first time last year for the 2012 Rewind Festivals at Perth and Henley-On-Thames.

Meanwhile, in terms of her own solo career, the last few years have seen Denieceâs profile increase via her critically-acclaimed 2009 lead-part in the Michael Jackson-themed West End musical âThriller - Liveâ - a triumph she followed up two years later with another prominent West End singing role in âRespect La Divaâ. All of which would in turn precede her unexpected return to prime-time TV in spring 2012. When her vocal talents were watched by an 11-million-plus audience after she - surprisingly to some - entered as a competitor in the BBC1 reality talent contest âThe Voice UKâ. Which - with her having been mentored on the show by singing legend Tom Jones - would in turn ultimately lead to her current new record-deal with UK independent Baronet Records.

Taking a break from rehearsals for her Special Guest spot on The Jacksons Unity Tour, a warm-mannered and well-spoken Ms. Pearson hooks up with âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis to discuss her aforementioned new single and forthcoming album, plus her memories of Five Starâs Eighties heyday. Which saw the family quintet - at the time frequently dubbed âthe British Jackson Fiveâ - impressively raking up over 10 million album sales worldwide.

Her new single - the soulful, acoustic-guitar-driven ballad âClose To Nowhereâ

ââClose To Nowhereâ is actually quite a personal song, in that the lyrics really do reflect how I feel about relationships. You know, to me itâs all about whatâs WITHIN a person, rather than going out with someone because of the kinda car they drive or the way they present themselves or the kind of job they have... And then musically, with that whole acoustic guitar feel I think Iâm actually going way back to when I was in JUNIOR school - when every evening Iâd come home, stay in my room, play my guitar, and write my SONGS!... So yeah, I guess Iâm taking it all back to how I ORIGINALLY wanted to come out and portray myself as a solo artist - long before Five Star actually BEGAN!â

The thinking behind Deniece recording a solo album at this time

âIâm really enjoying myself pursuing the solo career right now, because I think Iâm more grounded, Iâm wiser⦠You know, Iâve had a very interesting life and Iâve done some very interesting THINGS. So the fact Iâm now branching out on my own and doing most of the writing does mean that my own experience is going to come through in the music more than EVER. Itâs like Iâm now able to get more personal and express my journey FULLY through my music. As opposed to the days of Five Star where, though we did write some of the material, we did do a lot of pop tracks and had a lot of outside writers coming in... So yeah, making this first solo album is a very exciting TIME for me. Because I just love the fact that I can just relax, do my own thing, and EXPRESS myself.â

How she now looks back on those heady mid/late-Eighties days of Five Starâs 10-million-selling transatlantic Top 10 success

âI look back on them with fondness and fastness actually! Because, although it was nearly four or five years in the running, it CAME so quickly and WENT so quickly! Mainly because I guess we were young and it was just one thing after ANOTHER. If it wasnât TV it was radio, if it wasnât radio it was magazines, if it wasnât magazines it was a new release, learning a new song, learning a new dance routine and doing the video... You know, it was very, very busy, but at the same time BRILLIANT! I mean, two sold-out European tours, Royal Variety, BPI⦠It was just so incredible to have such an effect on so many PEOPLE! You know, to show your talent, give your talent and then get so much love back was just SO AMAZING!â

The single âClose To Nowhereâ is out now through Baronet Records

@DENIECEPEARSON

You can read more from this interview with Deniece Pearson in our print issue, available at all good newsagents or from the B&S shop below.
Words PETE LEWIS

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