The song “Morning Train” turned Sheena Easton’s singing career into an express to pop stardom in 1981. She became one of the biggest voices of the 1980s, collecting two Grammy Awards, selling 20 million records, and she still has the rare distinction of being the first and only artist to have top five records on five major Billboard charts.
Easton will perform in concert for your ears only at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 16, at the Clark State Performing Arts Center, which is presenting the show. Tickets are still available.
“You’ll hear the hits from the broad spectrum of my career and a few surprises, songs that mean something to me,” she said. “I guarantee you won’t go ‘Wow, she did not do that song.’”
Easton joked about having songs from her 100-year career, which actually spans four decades that saw her cover a number of genres – pop, country, rhythm and blues, jazz and standards. While considering herself foremost a pop singer, it was from growing up with one radio channel that she was exposed to various genres and would go on to become a versatile voice on radio.
“Expect anything,” she said of her setlist.
“Morning Train” shot to number one in the U.S. in the spring of ‘81 and launched Easton as a new pop sensation. While that may be the song a lot of people will first associate with her, and one that will get stuck in their heads, she said another tune that summer for a popular movie series may be the one she’s best known for worldwide.
Hot off “Morning Train and “Modern Girl,” the producers of the James Bond series sought her to sing the title track for the Roger Moore-starring “For Your Eyes Only.”
“As I’ve gone around the world even in non-English-speaking places others might not have reached, they know James Bond. So if I’m asked to sing a song or two at an event, it will usually be “For Your Eyes Only” and “Morning Train.”
While the Bond themes have always had big names singing them and several became big hits, to date, Easton is the only singer to appear onscreen during one of the famous title sequences that feature silhouettes of Bond, beautiful girls and hints associated with a film’s setting or theme.
“I wasn’t expecting it. (Title designer) Maurice Binder wanted to put me in the credits, and it was a huge honor,” Easton said.
While pop stars can be easily remembered for a certain song or two as their signature, Easton has no such problem with performing her hits.
“Just the opposite,” she said. “When you’re young and early in your career and you’ve had one, two or three hits and you go and do TV and hit from that year. But as you get older and tour and perform live, those performances make you want to go back to those.
“You play the intro and the audience goes crazy. When you see these people light up it’s a shared experience between you and the audience.”
Easton placed 15 top 40 hits in the U.S. Her versatility came through with in duets with country legend Kenny Rogers (“We’ve Got Tonight”) and funk with Prince (“U Got the Look”), also performing jazz, rhythm and blues and standards.
While her music career is what most associate her with, Easton has done television, including an arc on “Miami Vice” and done voices for animated shows, as well as theater work, including time in London’s West End, Broadway and in Las Vegas.
She doesn’t record anything new these days, saying she prefers performing live with the songs that made her name and those that mean a lot to her.
“If somebody came to me with a project that spoke to me I may, but there’s no need to go back to the studio,” said Easton. “I have quite a body of work out there and touring is my focus. These songs sound fresh again and I can do them in different variations and the more I appreciate them.”
HOW TO GO
What: Sheena Easton
Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, Kuss Auditorium, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 16
Admission: $20-40 (convenience and handling charges will also be added)
More info: pac.clarkstate.edu/shows/2022-2023-season/
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