For Marcella Detroit, being part of the pop duo Shakespear’s Sister was “like a great university.”
Too bad no one invited her to the graduation ceremony.
Detroit, who’s real name is Levy (she copped the new moniker in a tribute to her hometown), partnered with former Bananarama member Siobhan Fahey in Shakespear’s Sister. The duo’s two albums, “Sacred Heart” (1989) and “Hormonally Yours” (1992), were critical and commercial successes worldwide. “Hormonally Yours,” in fact, garnered a gold-selling single in “Stay.”
“It was getting back to what it really means about being an artist,” Detroit said recently, “because I got very distracted singing background for other people, songwriting for other people in the past. You lose sight of what makes you an individual. With Shakespear’s Sister, my individuality was used to the fullest.”
It didn’t last long, though. At a music awards show in London a year ago, Detroit accepted an award for the group while Fahey sent her publisher to receive the trophy on her behalf. He then read a letter from Fahey effectively calling it quits and wishing a dumbfounded Detroit the best of luck. (Fahey has since decided to keep the band name and work with husband-producer Dave Stewart.)
Detroit suddenly was thrust into a solo career, but it was a moment she intuitively had been preparing for all along.
“I would’ve been more frightened if I didn’t know it was going to happen,” Detroit said. “When I joined Siobhan in Shakespear’s Sister, I thought we’d do like the Phil Collins/Genesis thing where everybody does a solo record and then they get back together to do the same thing again.
“She agreed and was very supportive of that. After ‘Hormonally Yours,’ that’s when the idea came back to me. When we went touring, I started to store up all kinds of ideas. By the time I got back home, I had tons of ideas and developed them all, demo-ed them and sent them to the record company and getting ‘yes, no, yes, no.’
“I was ready (to go solo), rather than being surprised by it and having an anxiety attack, like when you don’t have your homework ready and you’re caught with your pants down. I knew this is what I wanted.”
Detroit’s debut London/PLG album, “Jewel,” is due June 21, after the June 7 release of the pensive single “I Believe.” Already a hit in her Britain, “Jewel” is packed with gems honing in on Detroit’s varied influences, from the Beatles to classical music. It also includes a rousing duet with Elton John on “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.”
It’s an amazing turnaround for an artist discovered 17 years ago by the late Carl Radle, a former Derek and The Dominos player. Radle was struck by Detroit’s captivating soprano voice at a nightclub in Tulsa, Okla. He invited her to join Eric Clapton’s band and perform on the “Slowhand” album and subsequent tour.
Not only that, when she was only 20, Detroit co-wrote one of Clapton’s biggest hits, “Lay Down Sally.”
“It was fate, what else can I say?” Detroit said, almost embarrassed. “Here I am singing Eric Clapton songs in a bar and two years later I’m in Eric Clapton’s band. I was definitely blessed.”
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