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Interview: The Honeyz

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After 10 years out of the public eye, British 90s RNB band Honeyz are back thanks to The Big Reunion. TNS talks to them about arguments, new and unexpected careers- and why now is the best time of their lives.

The Honeyz became a success with their first hit single Finally Found and had a successful career until they were dropped in 2001. After fallouts and music dilemmas which caused them to split, they decided to reunite for ITV’s The Big Reunion.

Celena Cherry and Mariama Goodman got their love for singing from theatre school.  “We had to learn everything from singing and dancing,” Celena says. “I got my love of girl bands through performing in groups.  I used to hear so many stories about being in a band, and therefore I knew it was for me.”

The journey started when Celena got the call from her management saying that Mercury Records wanted to sign her to a band alongside Heavenli Denton and Naima Belkhaiti - so that they could take on the USA’s leading girl band, Destiny’s Child.

Once the band was set, they needed a name. But how did they get ‘Honeyz’?

“Me and the girls were all out in the club Subterranea,” Celena says, “and some guys kept looking at us and they said ‘Mmm...look at those honeys!’ We just laughed at the time, but then after a while it just clicked.

“We were given the name Essence before, and we just didn’t like it. We needed something lively.”

After ‘Finally Found’ they went onto have more successful songs such as End of the Line and Love for a Lifetime and then produced the album Wonder No.8. The album went gold and the band managed to get signed in America, with Def Jam.

But, it was during the high flying time in the US that Heavenli decided to leave the group, which then resulted Def Jam dropping the group all together. They were left hanging, until Mariama joined.

Before Honeyz, Mariama had brief success in another band called Sonic HarmoniE, which famously toured with bands such as N Sync and Backstreet Boys.

“The first day in the band,” Mariama says, “was like starting a new school because you’re aware that friendships have already been made.  But as soon as I came we were put together in training all day, every day, so it wasn’t long before I got to know them."

“It was vigorous training” Celena chips in. “You just had to get on with it. But it was good because the dynamic really didn’t change.”

After Mariama joined they started rebuilding their success. But then, Mariama decided to leave the group which resulted in Heavenli returning once again. Yet, after a few failed singles, the band was dropped altogether. They split a year later.

“There was no point in us staying together,” Celena says. “We had got to the point where we couldn’t stand each other, and the label decided to drop us because we just weren’t strong. We needed a break.”

The biggest fall out within the band was, without a doubt, Celena and Heavenli. One of the highlights from The Big Reunion documentary was the two crying and hugging at each other on a couch.  Mariama perfectly described that moment as ‘therapy’.

Celena explains: “That whole moment was really sudden. I just hated her so much for what she did. She just went and she didn’t even apologise. She still hasn’t really.”

She continues: “She has only apologised for upsetting me. But it was good we had that talk, because now we seem to be OK.”

Now all the members have families of their own and have pursued different careers. Celena went into acting, starring in Hollyoaks, Doctors and Dream Team.  

On immediately being recognised as a result of Hollyoaks, she rolls her eyes. “Everyone always mentions that.”

Mariama adds: “I was flicking over the telly one day and then suddenly went back and was “Oh my God, that’s Celena!”

Mariama, perhaps unexpectedly, is now a fully qualified midwife. “I have to work tomorrow, funnily enough,” she says.

So how do they all handle their work alongside the current tour?

“I was prepared to organise myself,” Mariama says. “If you want something so badly, you will make the time for it.”

Celena adds: “As you get older you realise you’ve got to plan. We have been given the most amazing opportunity that we haven’t had for the last thirteen years so we thought we should make the most of it.”

It’s clear however that they desperately wanted to sing once again - probably why when The Big Reunion call came, they jumped at the chance.

“We felt like when we first split we just didn’t finish it properly, so we thought this would be our chance,” Mariama says.

“Despite that we were really successful we never did arenas,” Celena adds.  “Yeah we were invited onto shows and certain gigs but we never actually did a full tour of the band. So this was huge for us.”

It’s clear from talking to them that they seem to having the best time of their lives. They’ve even released a new single, entitled “Price You Pay”.

Honeyz were one of the first girl bands around, but now there are so many. So what advice do they have for them?

 “All I’ll say is enjoy it, appreciate it and have fun. “

 The Honeyz will continue touring with The Big Reunion in December.  




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