INTERVIEW: Shannon (2012)

Shannon is often credited as having creating the freestyle sound. Her signature record “Let the Music Play” is the genre-defining classic which continues to be a massive club anthem to this day.  If you look around online, there are many conflicting stories about how the song came to be. At the Promo Only Summer Session in Atlantic City, I chatted with the legendary Shannon and got the real story.  Watch for a special 30th Anniversary “Let the Music Play” tour next year, along with long-awaited new material from the legendary Shannon.

Ron Slomowicz: You started as a jazz singer, how did you make it from jazz into dance music?

Shannon: Someone was looking for a singer and had a particular style in mind; I guess I fit the bill. The producers were looking for a singer because “Let The Music Play” was a rap song and they had put a basic melody to it. When I came, I had a unique style because of the jazz, it was very sultry and yet I could really belt it. I have a pretty loud voice when I belt, I was belting out the notes and adding little additions to the song. They loved it and said I was their girl.

RS: Was this related to a song called “Fire and Ice?”
Shannon: To be honest, I read that too, they said it was related to that song. I can’t say that from my experience though because when I got it, it was just a melody that they let me listen to. They told me that they had a song called “Let The Music Play,” and wanted to see what I could do with it.

RS: There are three different names that I see associated with the song. I would like you to tell me who these people are and how they are related, there is Liggett, Chris Barbosa, and Robby Kilgore.
Shannon: They are all related, but I am going to tell you the grassroots of what really happened. There was a writer by the name of Ann Godwin, and she wrote the lyrics to “Let The Music Play.” It wasn’t her brother, who most people think. She was writing for Joe Beck music at the time, she wrote that song and also put her stamp on “Give Me Tonight,” and a lot of the other stuff. Chris Barbosa was the person who did the music track, he is a very ingenious guy; he was also a DJ and had mixing under his belt. Robby Kilgore came in as the programmer and did all of the programming for “Let The Music Play” because that was the beginning of electronics. All the special sounds and effects was Robby. When I came in they wanted to hear me bring the song to life. I just started adding little twists to the song, it was in my character.

RS: So the Shannon sound became freestyle, how does it feel to be the empress that started it all?
Shannon: It feels wonderful; you guys and my fans are incredible because it has been nearly 30 years. We are going to be doing the 30th anniversary celebration in 2013 but it is going to kick off on November 12.. We are going to have a video and new material. That is my gift to everyone, it is just not the artist that makes it happen but also the DJs, the marketing, the record company, and the fans, the artist is just the person that is representing it.

RS: When you did the song did you have any idea that it would become this big?
Shannon: No. I did not; I was hoping it would, though.

RS: I have always wondered whose idea it was to cover “Urgent,” the Foreigner song.
Shannon: That was Jerry Greenberg, he was with Mirage Music.. They had a relationship with Atlantic Records, that worked with Foreigner.  They wanted to see what I could do with it, and that was how that worked out.

RS: We loved you in the ’90s when you worked with Todd Terry and Sash! Do you have any more productions like that where you work with other established producers and featured performers for your new material?
Shannon: Yes, right now I am working with Andre Betts. That recently came about because we are doing a huge 30th anniversary celebration, it is going to kick off in the UK, but we are going to bring it back here to finish it. I am also working with Charles Dixon, my longtime good friend.

RS: There was a big remix contest in the ’90s for “Give Me Tonight,” did you hear those remixes, what did you think of them?
Shannon: What Hex Hector did was incredible; there was a DJ while I was down by the panel who was saying that you should keep things very close to the original. He was so right because the original has already made its mark and sold already. When Hex did it he kept that in mind and didn’t take it too far out of character, but yet he added a new element that gave it its own character. When I first heard it, I wasn’t sure about it but as I kept hearing “Give Me Tonight,” it grew on me.  He did a great job.

RS: One last question, what would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Shannon: I love you guys so very much, and I thank you guys for all of the support over the last 30 years. I still feel 25 years old and I’m still doing it.

RS: Do you have a website, Facebook or Twitter?
Shannon: You can check me out on Facebook at ShannonLetTheMusicPlay1

Interview conducted August 2012 at Promo Only Summer Sessions in Atlantic City.