Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Let The Music Play

Shannon (born Shannon Brenda Greene on May 2, 1958 in Washington, D.C.), is an American singer. She is best known for her 1983 dance/freestyle record, "Let the Music Play". The record redefined the electro funk sound that Arthur Baker and John Rocca (who produced "I.O.U" by Freeez and "One More Shot/Get Wet" by C-Bank) developed in 1982.

Before music career
In the spring of 1983, a young African American woman named Shannon Greene was enrolled in York College and toured with the New York Jazz Ensemble. Quintin Hicks, an associate of the soon-to-be-renowned production team of Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa later saw Shannon singing with a live band in her cousin's studio. Hicks thought she was perfect for what the duo was looking for. Shannon auditioned for Liggett and Barbosa with the song "She Can't Love You Like I Do" (Little Tony 14yrs., a project prior to Shannon's mainstream success). They liked her and her vocals so much that they introduced her to the track "Fire and Ice," which would later evolve into Shannon's signature song, "Let the Music Play." Under the direction of Chris Barbosa, Shannon added artist contribution (the Shannon stamp to the vocals) thus creating the World Hit "Let the Music Play." This title would also be applied to Shannon's debut album.

Music career
In July 1983, the above video "Let the Music Play" single was released without her knowledge. Shannon was invited back to lay down more songs for Liggett and Barbosa. Barbosa, a Puerto Rican from New York was considered the founder of Freestyle music, and "Let the Music Play" has become widely acknowledged as the first freestyle music track. Its heavy syncopated drum sound with Latin American rhythms has become very commonplace today, such that the "Shannon Sound" considered so innovative at the time now seems not quite as cutting-edge. The single's success led to the number eight Pop position on the Billboard Top 100 and took over the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, temporarily making Shannon the international Dance Queen of the World. Today, the song is well-regarded as one of the most influential dance records of all time #22 best song in the world ever recorded.

Her debut album, titled Let the Music Play after the big hit single, was released February 1984. The follow-up single from the album, "Give Me Tonight" was noted as the best song of the year Billboard, as it received the same wild enthusiasm as its predecessor and also hit the top spot on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. It also became a significant hit on Urban radio. In the US, the third single was "My Heart's Divided". This was a latino-freestyle track, which again featured Jimmi Tunnel on the refrain vocals, and the woo-woo-wooowoo synth baseline. The song was a club smash and could be heard on boomboxes and out of IROC-Z's and Monte Carlos around any major urban area. In Europe, the superior "Sweet Somebody", a mid tempo soul jam, made the lower regisers of the top 40. It may have faired well here had it been the fourth US single.

The Let the Music Play album would go on to sell over 8 million copies worldwide. It is widely considered the first freestyle album in history. Shannon was nominated for a Grammy and received numerous other awards, including the Dianah Washington (Jack the Rapper) Award, Hall Of Fame Award, Gold Ampex Reel Award, Certified Gold Single, Best Billboard Top 10 female R&B vocalist.

In 1985, Shannon released her second album Do You Wanna Get Away, which sported a sound similar to that of her debut album. The title track charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was also embraced by the club/dance music community. She scored three more Dance music hits from the album, including "Stronger Together", a pop single perfect for radio, a straight ahead cover of "Urgent" by Foreigner, and "Stop The Noise", which was the lone second video single from the album despite it's lowest chart position. The choice of this video, it's re-mastering for the single edit, and the subsequent slow sell to make it a hit hint that perhaps Shannon's label did not market her successfully. Non-singles from the album were interesting and may have had hit potential if properly marketed - including the lover gone wrong anthem "Doin' what your doin'" and the soulful B-side to "Stronger Together," a track called "Let Me See Your Body Move," which featured the type of throaty dance diva singing Shannon fans had come to look for.
By 1986, her success was waning. Her third album, Love Goes All The Way, released that year, did not bring the same success as previous albums. The title track had a sweet, soulful sound reminiscent of a cross between a Chaka Kahn and a Whitney Houston ballad of the time, and may have been a big hit if it had been released. Aside from the minor R&B hit "Prove Me Right" with a bass heavy dance floor sound, Shannon also released a 12" called "Dancin'". The single mix differed from the album mix, and was beat driven, but sounded less melodic that previous singles and fizzled on the charts. Perhaps fans of earlier Shanon dance singles were looking for something more freestyle or soul based. "Dancin'" was neither particularly soulful or freestyle sounding - it was more of a pop dance song. A 45 of the single featured the mid-tempo "Right Track" from the album on a double A side single, but despite being perhaps the best song from Love Goes All The Way, it disappeared quickly. "Right Track" could potentially blend well today on a CD smooth jazz station. Singles from Love Goes All The Way were released without the ever-important (in the 80s) video, or even picture sleeves for the singles. Again, it seemed that Atlantic was riding out their contract without much enthusiasm for promoting the album.
Politics within the Atlantic/Warner Bros. Records Record Company were affecting the atmosphere, and Shannon sought a release from her recording contract in 1987. Earlier that year, she had managed to record one last single, "Criminal," for the movie Fatal Beauty. This track was a pop-sounding single typical of the era, and lacked the soulful punch of other Shannon recordings. The single had a flip side by the R&B act Madame X.

While touring the world, Shannon attended and graduated from The American Academy Of Dramatic Arts (NYC) for acting, now adding several off broadway plays to her career (making her very well-rounded, as a singer, dancer, and actress). Some claim she is the most Freestyle emulated performer of all times.

The 1990s
In the late 1990s interest of Shannon rekindled VH1’s spotlight her on their One Hit Wonders series, Entertainment Tonight taped there one hour special about her life. There were enormous amount of remixes of "Let the Music Play", and "Give Me Tonight".

Featured recordings with Sash! and Todd Terry. In 1998, she co-wrote and sang on the track Take a Little Time by Les Rythmes Digitales.

2000 to present
In the year 2000, Shannon released her fourth studio album, The Best Is Yet To Come, on which she is credited as a co-writer. Chris Barbosa was invited back as a producer to recapture the sound of her 1980's hits "Let The Music Play" and "Give Me Tonight." Many notable producers, including Andy Panda and Tony Moran were also featured on the new album. An Hex Hector remix 2000 AD (After The Decade) "Give Me Tonight" from the set made the song a colossal club hit again while its follow-up, an update of "Let the Music Play", though still a hit, interestingly proved to be less popular - a role reversal of when she debuted with the songs in the 80's).

The Greatest Hits album released in November 2004.
On April 20, 2006 Shannon participated in the Freestyle Extranvaganza concert along with fellow Freestyle acts like Judy Torres , George Lamond, Cynthia, Lisette Melendez, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, the Cover Girls, Hanson and Davis, Coro, Stevie B. and more. The event was sponsored by WKTU, WSKQ, and WCAA in New York.

Singles Title (Year)
"Let the Music Play" (1983)
"Give Me Tonight" (1984)
"My Heart's Divided" (1984)
"Sweet Somebody" (1984)
"Do You Wanna Get Away?" (1985)
"Stronger Together" (1985)
"Stop the Noise" (1985)
"Urgent" (1985)
"Love Goes All the Way" (1986)
"Prove Me Right" (1986)
"Dancin'" (1987)
"It's Got To Be Love" (1995)
"Do the Wrong Thing" *(1996)
"It's Over Love" **(1997)
"Move Mania" ***(1999)
"Give Me Tonight 2000" (2000)
"Let the Music Play 2000" (2000)
*-"Do the Wrong Thing" with Afrika Bambaataa **-Todd Terry featuring Shannon ***-Sash! featuring Shannon

1984 Let the Music Play - Mirage/Atlantic Records
1985 Do You Wanna Get Away - Mirage/Atlantic Records
1986 Love Goes All the Way - Atlantic Records
1996 Essential Dancefloor Artists - Deep Beats
2000 The Best Is Yet to Come - Contagious Records
2004 Let the Music Play: The Best of Shannon - Shout Factory
2007 A Beauty Returns - Diggin4Brown

External links
Shannon's brief biography

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