Custom Search 1

Sinitta: Ready to rock!

READY TO ROCK: Sinitta will perform her pop hits at the upcoming show Hit Factory Live at Hyde Park

RECENT YEARS may have seen her donning that infamous palm leaf ensemble on The X Factor, and dodging creepy crawlies on I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! But now, Sinitta is planning to return to her performance roots.

The ‘80s pop star is set to take to the stage as part of Hit Factory Live – a massive concert, which celebrates the hits of the legendary Stock Aitken Waterman songwriting and production team, and the phenomenal success of Pete Waterman’s famed record label, PWL.

For one night only, a host of ‘80s stars including Jason Donovan, Bananarama, Pepsi & Shirlie, Princess and Rick Astley (who was my childhood crush – there, I’ve admitted it), will perform the hits that once dominated the British pop charts.
Sinitta describes the show as somewhat of a “class reunion” and says she’s “very excited” about taking to the stage with “some of my old peers.”

But despite her excitement, the So Macho hitmaker, who is the daughter of Canadian actress and disco singer Miquel Brown, and the niece of disco singer Amii Stewart, is all too aware of the less than favourable sentiments about her ‘80s heyday. While many look back on the era with nostalgia, others deem the hits of that generation – like Banarama’s Love In The First Degree and Jason Donovan’s Too Many Broken Hearts – as cheesy and cringeworthy.

“I know,” Sinitta acknowledges with a laugh. “But it’s interesting that this show is allowing people to look back at that era with a lot of love and nostalgia. Yes, that era got a lot of backlash, with people saying that PWL was dominating the charts; that Pete Waterman was more evil than Margaret Thatcher; and that we [the artists] were the worst thing you could think of!

“I must admit, I now look back at some of my pictures and think ‘oh my gosh!’ But generally, I don’t look back at the era with shame and horror because it was a great time. It was an era that produced some great, feel-good music, and as artists, we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We were all young and having fun.”

Under the guidance of then up-and-coming music manager Simon Cowell – who she later dated – Sinitta scored her first chart success with the 1986 hit So Macho.


GLAMOUR GIRL: Sinitta with old flame and music mogul Simon Cowell and right in her 1980s pop heyday

Complete with her distinctive image – brightly coloured outfits and curly hair extensions – she found further success with pop hits including Toy Boy, Cross My Broken Heart and Right Back Where We Started From, and firmly cemented her place in British pop history.

But despite the feel-good vibes of the ‘80s, Sinitta admits that being a black British pop star came with its challenges. Much like Whitney Houston did in America, Sinitta broke into the pop market at a time when very few black artists attempted to compete in the commercial music field. Was it hard being arguably the most visible black British pop star of her generation?

“It was, yes. I guess Whitney and I both came out at around the same time, we were around the same age and we were both releasing pop music. I certainly didn’t have the vocal ability that she had, but I did feel I could relate to her because at the time, there was only her as a black, female pop star. And I did find it difficult being launched as a black pop star. Radio stations didn’t really know what to make of me at first.”

She also recalls that the black community at the time weren’t particularly supportive of her music.

“I remember being invited to perform at one of [radio DJ] Greg Edwards’ soul nights and feeling absolutely petrified having to face this crowd of black soul lovers, who were just staring at me, as though I was crazy! I don’t think they knew what to make of me and I don’t think anyone clapped when I finished my set!

“Before that, I’d been used to performing in gay clubs and other venues that were used to my style of pop music. So I guess going to a black soul club and expecting my music to be accepted was a bit optimistic!”

She continues: “I think now, things have changed a bit, but for a while, I think there was a feeling that if you were black and you were singing what was considered to be ‘white music’, you were seen as a sell-out. I didn’t know that singing popular music could make me a sell-out, so I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong and why the black community didn’t like what I was doing.

“When I watched Whitney Houston singing I Wanna Dance With Somebody, and saw her with that young, fun, pop image, I thought, ‘that’s what I wanna do.’ So that’s what I did.”

Later years saw the singer step away from the music spotlight, and come the turn of the century, she embarked on the job that would bring her notoriety once more: becoming a mentor to contestants on Cowell’s hit show The X Factor.

Though she says she “learned so much” from the experience (it led her to start her own company, where she works with unsigned artists to help them develop their careers), she admits it does annoy her that some people think that The X Factor marked the beginning of her career.

Not surprising really, as she trained at ballet school and starred in West End musicals including Cats and Little Shop of Horrors, before embarking on her pop career.

“I have performed in several West End musicals and I’ve done film and television. But I think a lot of the younger generation who know me through X Factor, don’t realise that I’ve had an extensive and varied career and that I am qualified to be part of the show. They think I’m just Simon Cowell’s friend because we used to date. They’re like, ‘what the hell do you know and what have you done anyway?’ But I am trained and qualified in this industry.”

Also a mother-of-two, after she and then-husband Andy Willner adopted son Zac and daughter Magdalena in 2008, (Sinitta and Willner divorced in 2010), she admits that it’s not easy juggling her career with motherhood.


MUMMY LOVE: with her son Zac and daughter Magdelena and inset above, with her mum, Canadian singer and actress Miquel Brown

“It is really hard, especially as I’m a single mother. And as any working mother knows, it is hard work. But my mum did it completely on her own so I know it’s possible.”

And what about her image? Known on The X Factor for her flamboyant outfits (most notably when she made an appearance on the show wearing nothing but large palm leaves in 2009), does she feel she has to play up to her showbiz persona?

“There’s a part of me that feels that I have to play up to it, and I think it’s because I’m an old school entertainer. My mother’s a disco diva, and my aunt once came on stage wearing a four-foot headdress! That’s the way I grew up; sitting backstage seeing that kind of glamour and flamboyance, and I wanted to grow up and be a part of that."

“But obviously, when I’m off-stage, I don’t walk around at home or down the street, all dressed up! It’s only when I put on my performer persona that I unleash that side of myself. And I think the real, true fans expect that. People are already saying to me, ‘what are you gonna wear for the show?’ That side of things is all part of the buzz.”

4Hit Factory Live is in Hyde Park, London on July 11. For tickets, visit www.livenation.co.uk

A two-disc album, Pete Waterman Presents The Hit Factory will be released on July 9

Annual subscription for The Voice newspaper print edition.

Read more stories like this in our weekly printed newspaper. To purchase an annual subscription, complete the form below and enter the code 'ONLINE2017.

* indicates required
() - (###) ###-####
Facebook Comments