It was in the mid/late 90’s when the Honeyz were formed and became the biggest R&B group of the decade. Having been signed to Def Jam, they were used by their label to rival USA’s Destiny Childs which fuelled their swift rise to fame – but tensions within the group mounted and without warning they announced their split. Although their success seemed to be short-lived, their ability to produce hit records paved the way for many UK R&B artists and groups.
Ironically after having established new lives for themselves outside of the music industry, Celena Cherry, Mariama Goodman and Heavenli Denton were reunited on ITV2’s The Big Reunion, earlier this year and soon announced their comeback. Below they share their experiences of the music industry, their journey of becoming confident women as well as their new music.
Since the breakup 13 years ago, what have you been all been up to? Did any of you consider pursuing a solo career?
CC: I got really depressed when the group split, so I focused on acting as it’s a passion of mine and had parts in different various TV dramas like Doctors, Hollyoaks and Dream Team. I did try to pursue a solo career and recorded a solo album, but my confidence went and I lost the love for music.
MG: I went to university to study to become a midwife, and have been doing it ever since.
HD: Since the breakup, I have: acquired a BA (hons) in Ceramic Design from Central Saint Martins, qualified as an aerobics instructor, immigrated to the Algarve, Portugal, been married and had four wonderful children. I never considered a solo career in the music industry, as I wanted to explore other avenues.
If ITV2’s The Big Reunion did not take place, would The Honeyz had still reunited and planned a comeback?
CC: No, we tried many times over the years and someone or something would always let us down.
HD: There were previous attempts but nothing came to fruition. The Big Reunion and ITV have orchestrated something which may never have happened and we are all extremely grateful for that.
What is different this time round with the Honeyz?
CC: Apart from the lineup, we all appreciate it much more now and we have kids and families, so it feels different and we want to make them proud.
MG: We are more laid back about things now, because we all have other major things taking place withinur lives. i.e. jobs, families. The things that were such a big deal back then seem unimportant now; we also know how to communicate better as we’ve grown up. So no girly fights anymore (she said as she smiles). Also there is a lot more freedom for creative input, as we are controlling our own career now.
HD: A great deal is different with the Honeyz this time around including… Communication within the group, maturity, having a wider perspective, juggling family and work are what springs to mind. It is also a more harmonious line-up.
‘Finally Found’ was your breakthrough song (first of many hits) which got you to the top of the UK charts and still resonates with many today, why do you think it did so well?
CC: ‘Finally Found’ is my little baby, love it. The idea for the song came from my relationship at the time, I got with one of my best friends and I think a lot of people can relate to it. It’s a happy love song, very positive and can touch different people in different ways, many people use it at their wedding song. I’m glad we were able to write such a lovely song.
HD: I think the masses can relate to the simple meaning behind ‘Finally Found’. It can be interpreted on many different levels. Lyrically it is a song which we wrote together, so we are very proud. So many have said they have used it for their weddings, which is an absolute honour for us.
You were the biggest female UK R&B group in the 90’s, and soon after the split emerged the Sugababes. Do you feel the comeback of the original members of the Sugababes (MKS) will hinder the strength of your comeback? Or do you believe there is room for two strong female R&B groups?
CC: There’s definitely room. I’m so glad that the original Sugarbabes are back together, they were the best line up and they are lovely girls and amazing singers and also a lot younger than us! (Laughs) I’d love to do a duet with them, a girl group ‘ the boy is mine ‘ type track.
MG: I think we are extremely different groups (not to mention older), our music is very different. I think there is always room as long as the music is good.
HD: The Sugababes are fantastic; I have all of their albums. I believe that the comeback of the three original members will produce more great music, as I hope ours will too. There’s enough room for us both!
The music business industry can be really tough especially when dealing with record companies, what lessons have you learned?
CC: I’ve learned that it’s a business and the music is secondary. We got ripped off so bad. I still think I’m not cut out for this industry. I’m too nice, trusting and naive.
MG: The main thing is to be united as a band. If we are strong, we can handle anything thrown at us. Also, age has bought me confidence to stand up for myself and my opinions. I have a serious day job, where I have to make big and far reaching decisions every day, this has helped.
What advice would you give to up and coming artists who are still currently underground?
CC: Enjoy the good moments, keep your eye on the ball and enjoy the ride. It doesn’t always last for long.
HD: I would advise any artists that want to succeed to stand united, believe in your ideas, find good management and learn about the business side of the music industry, but at the same time cherish and enjoy what you do.
Are there any new or up and coming artists that have caught your eye?
CC: I love Emeli Sande and Kendrick Lamar, and I can’t wait for the James Arthur album – I love him! His voice is amazing, I voted for him every week on X factor.
HD: I don’t really keep enough of an eye on new artists as I’d like to. I hear the Honeyz comeback might be a great one though!
Out of the many successful and well-known artists around to date, which ones have inspired you recently?
CC: my constant inspiration is Michael Jackson as he is and will always be the ‘King of Pop’ and music in general. I even have a lot of his unreleased music; there really was nothing that this man could not do.
MG: I recently bought Ed Sheeran’s Album (I don’t know why it took me so long). I’m addicted to it, he is such a mix of different influence and genres, and his lyrics are amazing!
HD: Recently… I’m inspired by Little Mix. I bought the album for my ten year old daughter. I love their style and attitude; they seem to have some edge and freshness. Jessie J is always an inspiration musically and Luther Vandross for his vocal smoothness.
Which artists would you love to collaborate with?
CC: I would love to work with Darren Hayes from Savage Garden, I know it’s random but I love his voice and song writing skills.
MG: Ed Sheeran OR Labrinth.
HD: Would love to collaborate with Will I Am, he is so great with music and ideas. Pharrell Williams… would be sch-mazing to work with too!
Sometimes when artists/bands come back from a hiatus, they change their sound and image as part of rebranding themselves. Will this be the case for the Honeyz?
CC: We were never certain of exactly what our sound was, but I think it’s different slightly as its 15 years later so people change and voices change naturally.
MG: Our first album is a mix of different types of music, although probably best known for the heart felt ballads or the attitude of ‘Won’t Take It Lying Down’ (contrasting styles I know). So I believe the fans will expect a bit of both this time round again.
HD: We will need to change with the times in order to present a more current version of the Honeyz. We’ve all grown as people not in size but in mind so I’m sure that this will be reflected. The Honeyz will still look and sound like Honeyz though (she smiles).
So what can we expect from The Honeyz over the next few years?
CC: I really hope we can be around for the next few years making good music for our lovely fans and making money out of doing something we all love. There’s nothing more satisfying.
MG: I am just happy to work on the music and make the most of the opportunity The Big Reunion has bought us, and just see what happens…. Hopefully we will still be singing at you in a few years.
HD: You can expect a fantastic new single called ‘Price you Pay’ which is soulful and sassy. Who knows what the future holds… it would be a dream come true to have another successful album. We feel so lucky to be given the chance.
The Honeyz’s new soulful vivacious single ‘Price You Pay’, will be release this autumn followed by their newly anticipated album next year.
W| Interview by Jade Bennett @MsJadeOnline I| Sebastian Bednarski