Petite in stature with a sweet, yet powerful voice, Shanice is the sultry R&B recording artist who rocked the U.S. with her hit single, “I Love Your Smile” in the early 90s. The Grammy-nominated singer has always managed to captivate audiences with her smile, but tough times eventually hit and served as a staggering blow to her family and career. In an exclusive interview with Shanice, we detail the excitement surrounding her upcoming feature on the TV ONE series “UNSUNG” and how she’s managed to persevere despite the odds.
Los Angeles Sentinel (LAS): When you think of “UNSUNG,” you think of artists whose talent far exceeds their recognition. What do you believe in means to be unsung?
Shanice (S): The reason why those 90’s tours did really, really well, is because the fans wanted to know what happened to their favorite artists. People around my age bracket, they want to know, like, where are all my favorite singers, what are they doing? So, I love the show because it’s kind of educational in a way. If you watch all the episodes, you start learning about the industry, what not to do, what to do, and it’s pretty dope.
LAS: What was it like to go back through moments of your life and career while filming the show?
S: I did see it. It touched me. I literally cried watching it. I had a whole bunch of mixed emotions. You know, I laughed, I cried … when my husband watched it he cried, my mom cried, it was a happy feeling. I’m like finally, because people ask me all the time on Twitter and Instagram, like, what’s going on, what’s going on with your music right now, why’d you take such a long break? And I’m always trying to answer these questions online, so now they can watch the show and know exactly, from my perspective, what happened.
LAS: Where are you with music right now?
S: I’m still recording music. One thing, even when I took my break, I love songwriting and I still record and I actually have a couple songs on iTunes right now people can purchase, “Gotta’ Blame Me” and “Breakdown.” I’m still making music, I’m still touring. I haven’t stopped and this is just the beginning. One thing about me, I don’t give up easy, I keep pushing and pushing and pushing, and that’s what I want people to get when they watch my show, that no matter how hard it seems, you cannot give up.
It may not happen overnight, you may hit bumps in the road, but you just have to keep pushing, you can’t stop, especially when it’s something that God puts in your heart that He wants you to do. Singing was something that I’ve done since I was born, I started singing melodies when I was seven months, so ever since I was a baby, I’ve always wanted to sing. I’m not just gon’ let all that go.
LAS: Many people would consider your marriage to Flex Alexander the epitome of Black love or what’s now referred to as “relationship goals.” How have you both been able to manage the peaks and valleys of life together?
S: First of all, before Flex and I got married, we were friends. We had a really dope friendship and I think it’s important to enjoy the person that you’re with, you know you have to marry your friend. We decided divorce was not an option, so when we hit those bumps in the road, we just have to work it out. Sometimes I get on his nerves, he gets on my nerves, but he may go for a drive or I may leave the house and go for a ride, then we come back, cool off and make it work. And a lot of prayer, too. Prayer is key, I believe in a marriage.
LAS: In 2001, when you were 5 months pregnant and got dropped from your record label, how did you react? What did it teach you about life?
S: That news, oh my gosh, it was one of the worst days of my life. I went into a depression after that phone call; I just dropped to the floor and cried. It was really, I was like 5 months pregnant, and I had started working on my next project, so I was in the studio recording. I’m thinking, okay, I only got four months left in my pregnancy, once the album is done, the baby will already be born and I can just keep it moving. That’s what I was thinking in my head. It was difficult for me.
I was happy for Flex because he had “One on One” and I was excited for him, but at the same time, I was miserable because I said, ‘why does my career have to stop?’ I remember sitting in his dressing room and I would cry every day; I was so depressed. I felt like my career was over because, since I was 11-years-old, I’ve been signed to major record companies, so that’s all I know. Not to have a major deal, I just didn’t know what to do.
Looking back, I think it made me stronger and I see now that you don’t always have to wait on someone else to validate you; you can do it yourself. In 2006-2007, my husband and I started our own little independent label and I partnered with a company called Playtime Entertainment and I put out my own record. So I’ve learned that you don’t always have to wait on [the music industry] to tell you if they’re going to work with you or not, or if you’re good or not. I just said, ‘I gotta’ do it myself,’ and that too made me a lot stronger.
Shanice continues to use her voice to inspire others, saying that she’s prepared to continue touring the country with her music and dabble into theatrical acting as well. She also has a series of entrepreneurial endeavors, including a pajama line called Onesies by Shanice, along with the soon coming launch of her cosmetics line. Out of all Shanice has accomplished over the years, she says what she’s the proudest of is her family and being the mother of two children. Be sure to catch the TV ONE premiere of “UNSUNG,” featuring Shanice on August 5, 2017.