‘We are going to be at the forefront of UK R&B’: The Honeyz on their comeback and the real reason behind their split

Noel Phillips

the honeyz 1 300x184 ‘We are going to be at the forefront of UK R&B’: The Honeyz on their comeback and the real reason behind their splitIn 1998, Bill Clinton was thrust into the spotlight for allegations of an affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, Titanic was breaking box office records, and The Honeyz released their debut single Finally Found, which would go on to shape the lives of many teenagers.

The group continued in various permutations—including a merger with Def Jam—but their rapid ascent, created a division between the members and soon the band announced it was all over.

But 13 years later — Célena Cherry, Mariama Goodman and Heavenli Denton, who reunited on ITV2’s The Big Reunion, are re-charged and ready to pick up where they left off. Below, they share with us their growth from hesitant young girls into women, motherhood and the difficulties that face girl groups.

You’ve all aged gracefully in the girl band world of physical charm. But prior to your comeback were you all conscious of your image?

Heavenli: We are all mothers now and after giving birth, you become more conscious of your figure. Of course, you become a little self-aware, but I have recently discovered Spanx’s. I haven’t worn them yet, but I did try them on the other day, and they looked okay [laughs].

Mariama: It was the opposite for me. I felt as if I didn’t have time to worry so much to the extent where I started to care a lot less.

Célena: When you have kids, your body starts to hang in places where it’s never hung before [laughs] So you’ve got to buy the scaffolding you’ve never had to keep it in shape

You were one of the biggest RnB bands in the UK during the late 1990s. You were even seen as competitors to Destiny’s Child—a privilege few can lay claim to. But then you went on a hiatus.

Heavenli: To have been compared to Destiny’s Child was amazing. With the bond we have this time around, we are going to take that compliment and stand up to it.

When you experience the kind of success that you did so early, people were wondering if you were still going be around years later. Did The Honeyz run its course?

Célena: I mean, we had a lot of issues within the band, the record label and other stuff that went on. The music industry is a business and if you don’t sort out that side of it, then it can leave you in a position where you cannot really do your business. I think that’s what happened with us, and we all needed that break to getaway from it. We have now realised 10 years later how much we loved it and how fortunate we were.

Of all the hits you’ve had, why is it do you think Finally Found seems to resonate the most with everyone?

Célena: Every time I meet someone who likes it – they either tell me they had it as their wedding song, or it means something about friends becoming lovers.

Heavenli: It was our breakthrough song that got us straight into the charts. I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of singing it.

Could The Honeyz of the ’90s have survived this paparazzi culture? Or would it have been the End Of The Line?

Mariama: Nowadays, if you do something within 30 seconds someone, somewhere will give you feedback. The Facebook, Twitter and social media aspect provide people with those instant reviews, which scared me to begin with.

Célena: It is very different compared to when we were around. People weren’t being papped so much as they are nowadays, but things just evolve and I think we’re prepared for whatever comes our way.

Heavenli: I am petrified of Twitter. I did not realise how open it is as a network. I got scared when someone said something nasty about me so I just pushed away, but I do occasionally tweet.

Former member Naima Belkhiati is no longer part of the group. Are you on good terms?

Célena: I speak to Naima every now and again. We’re not best buddies, but we have this phone relationship where we’ll check in on each other every couple of years.

Why do you think it is so difficult for female girl groups to remain consistent?

Mariama: Even boy bands have the same trouble. I think it’s because you’re in such a bubble and around each other all the time. No matter what happens, there are always going to be ups and downs. We were very young at the time and when we look back the problems that we went through weren’t as bad as we thought. The big difference with us doing it again this time around is that we are older and wiser.

When you started it was at the tail end of R&B-soul music being really popular, but now pop, dubstep and dance is sort of taking over. This new era and sound must be sort of strange for you?

Heavenli: It is certainly a different arena out there right now. There’s less RnB music around, but we are hoping to bring that flavour back. We are going to be at the forefront of the UK R&B resurgence. I think it’s time for a bit of soul to come back.

Are you nervous about putting yourself back out there?

Heavenli: With age there comes a certain amount of confidence and gratitude for the position that you’re in. I think it’s easier to embrace the whole opportunity without feeling apprehensive about it.

Célena: I absolutely cannot wait to get back out there. I think everything that has happened to us has been one big event that was waiting to happen. Everything we do from now is supposed to happen.  If it goes wrong which I hope it doesn’t, then we’re not all going to be devastated. We know the good and bad of the industry, and we will still be happy if it does not work out.

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  • Dev

    I think that this article is giving them much more credit than they are due. The had medeocre vocals and r&b lite songs. I think that Eternal were an all round better group vocally and music while. I wish them luck though.

  • Dialitdownanotch

    Brand new heavies are still one of the greatest uk bands always ignored their new album sunshine is brilliant

  • Mag0Lag

    I now want them to fail…

  • Reality_Cheque123

    They do realise that ‘Honeyz’ is spelled wrong, with a ‘z’ replacing an ’s’?

    Perhaps its an urban thing.

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