Shanice "Behind the Mask" With Michael Jackson

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Singing on Michael Jackson's new album.

Shanice Wilson,the bubbly recording star who stole our hearts in the 90s with her number one hit, I Love Your Smile,” is joining the star-studded list of artists who will be on Michael Jackson’s newest album.

Epic Records, in conjunction with the Estate of Michael Jackson , will be releasing a series of songs on a new album simply entitled, “Michael”.  Shanice sings with the King of Pop on the track entitled, “Behind the Mask.”  In addition to Shanice, the album features Akon, 50 Cent, Lenny Kravitz and more.


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The Grammy nominated artist worked with MJ previously, singing back up on the hook of his song, "Keep The Faith" on the "Dangerous" Album.  Now, she reunites with the King on track No. 9.  At age 14, Shanice released her debut album, "Discovery," which produced two top ten R&B hits including "(Baby Tell Me) Can You Dance" and "No Half Steppin.”  She later landed a record deal with Motown Records and released the album, "Inner Child," which included Shanice’s hit single "I Love Your Smile", featuring saxophonist, Branford Marsalis, which hit #1 in 22 countries. The album, also included a cover of Minnie Ripperton’s 1974 hit Lovin’ You”  where Shanice revealed her incandescent five-octave vocal range. She has performed many duets including "Love Will Follow" with Kenny Loggins on his "Live In The Redwoods" CD, "Breathe Again" on Babyface's MTV Unplugged CD, and "If I Never Knew You", the hit single with Jon Secada from Disney's "Pocahontas". Shanice's voice has been included on soundtracks from the movies, "Boomerang", "The Meteor Man" and she sang a cover of Gladys Knight and the Pips' "If I Were Your Woman" in the movie "Panther."

The versatile diva also graced the Broadway stage for a long-term run as Eponine in the musical hit, Les Miserables.  She was the first African American to ever play the role.  After a five year hiatus, Shanice released her fifth studio album entitled, "Every Woman Dreams,"   which she placed on her own label,  Imajah Records, named for her two children Imani and Elijah.  She just returned from her Japan tour and is currently in the studio working on her sixth album.

Shanice took time out to chat with The Black Star News, as she reflects on how  Michael Jackson impacted her life.

Since childhood, it had always been Shanice’s dream to meet Michael Jackson in person, she told BSN. “Having the honor of being on his newest release is an amazing and sentimental experience for me.”

John McClain, the current executor of Michael Jackson’s estate, is also the man who discovered Shanice at age 11. Ultimately, McClain signed Shanice to her first record deal.  Shanice vividly recalls during negotiations with A&M Records, the tween siren practically made meeting Jackson a term in the contract.

At age 14, Shanice’s dream became reality. She had just gotten home from school when she got a call from someone at A&M Records saying, “Somebody would like to meet you today.” Shortly after, a limo arrived outside her home, scooped her up and delivered her to the set of Michael Jackson’s “Moonwalker” video. “It was incredible,” reminisced the star.  “We sat in the trailer for about an hour. We talked about Bubbles, ( Jackson’s pet chimpanzee) and how Bubbles was doing commercials. We talked about how we shared the same vocal coach (Seth Riggs).  Michael was so down to earth. I have been in the entertainment industry for a long time and have met a lot of people and I can honestly say that Michael Jackson is the biggest star that I have ever met, but he was also the most down to earth of all.”

PhotobucketWhile the album was still in the production stage, John McClain reached out to Shanice via John Nettlesby to be a part of the project. Naturally, she was thrilled.  The call took her back to her early childhood, an 8-year-old child in a state of uncertainty riding a Greyhound bus, moving from Pittsburgh to California. She had no idea the future would hold such good fortune.  “People kept telling me I was going to Hollywood where all the stars were! I was so excited because I thought there would be stars everywhere, just walking down the street.  As soon as I stepped off of the bus I asked, ‘Where is Michael Jackson?’ But to my disappointment I found out that the stars on the streets of Hollywood that people were referring to was the Walk of Fame,” she giggled.

Working on “Behind the Mask” was poignant. Many of the songs on the new album were in their rough stages and had to be completed after the King’s untimely passing. Shanice had difficulty holding back tears in attempts to sing the song.  “As soon as the music came on and I heard Michael’s voice, I would start to cry.” But the seasoned professional got it done with the support of others around her. John Nettlesby, for instance, who contributed to production of the vocals, eased the pain by chatting and sharing fun stories about Michael throughout the recording session.

Shanice is the wife of film star, Flex Alexander, and the mother of their two children ~ nine-year-old Imani, and six- year-old Elijah.and six- year-old Elijah.


PhotobucketWhen asked what it’s like to juggle family and career she stated, “Wearing so many hats can be overwhelming at times, but I love it.   Having a family and a career is something that I prayed for. It’s a lot of work, but it has many rewards. In fact, on my way home from the airport after my recent tour in Japan, I ended up having to stop and pick my kids up from school,” she included with a chuckle.

Shanice is as big a star being a wife and mom to her family as she is to her fans who love her across the globe, for her music.  In the kitchen, she shines, too.  But that has not always been the case.  Shanice reflects on earlier times, being a bachelorette and living alone, often feasting on a menu that included Dominoes Pizza or PB&J sandwiches. When she got married, those abbreviated dishes did not go over too well with the man of the house. Flex, although sensitive to her feelings, found a way to let her know that as much as he loves pizza, he thought that having a wife meant that maybe sometimes she would cook something. 

Luckily for the all concerned, Flex’s mom, came to the rescue and taught Shanice how to whip up Flex’s favorite dishes.  Now she is a hit in the kitchen, and the #1 chart topper is her Sweet Potato pie, and just in time for the holidays!

You can watch a video of Shanice making her delicious sweet potato pie on her youtube channel.  Click here  to check it out.

Michael is now available for preorder on iTunes.

Brenda Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor of The Black Star News and Harlem Business News.

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