Singer Shanice is a chart topping R&B recording artist, whose voice has been heard on Broadway, in films, television, and popular video games. She scored two Top 5 Billboard hits with the sunny infectious single "I Love Your Smile" in 1991 and the 1993 single "Saving Forever for You". A talented child she made her professional debut as a toddler appearing in musicals and on television. She won her appearance on the Star Search talent contest and signed a contract with A&M Records at just age 11. Shanice released he debut album ‘Discovery’ at age 15. Her voice is heard in several movie soundtracks, including 'Don't Wanna Love You from the movie Boomerang, the duet "If I Never Knew You” with Jon Secada from Pocahontas, the number Hot 100 4 hit 'Saying Forever For You' in Beverly Hills, 90210, and 'It's For You' the number 14 R&B hit from The Meteor Man. She also sang the theme song for The UPN television series “One on One” that starred her husband comedian Flex Alexander. On television she has appeared on the Tonight Show, the Ebony/Jet Showcase, and Welcome Freshman. On Broadway she appeared the role of Eponine in the musical Les Misérables. Shanice was nominated for a Grammy as Best R & B Female Vocalist and was won the Golden Lion Award as Best International Artist in Germany.
From East Libery and the Rocks
Shanice Lorraine Wilson-Knox was born in Pitttsburgh in 1974 and lived in East Liberty and McKees Rocks. She was born into a musical family. Her father Carl Black is a guitarist. Her mother, Crystal Wilson, is a singer who performed in Pittsburgh with the group The Lovatio, recorded with Tim Stevens, and sang with Jennifer Holliday and Luther Vandross. Her Aunt Penny Wilson is also a singer. Shanice began singing melodies at 7 months from her crib, beginning with Chaka Khan’s 'Tell Me Something Good’. As a toddler her mother and aunt brought her on stages around Pittsburgh to sing. Performing for first time with her mother, father, and aunt at age 3, Shanice said she knew that she wanted to be a singer.
Success at Age 5
In 1979, two years after divorcing her husband, Crystal Wilson put herself, Shanice, and Aunt Penny on a Greyhound bus and moved the family to Los Angeles to work in show biz. At first the five year old Shanice was homesick for Pittsburgh, but she soon found a new home in the entertainment business. In Tinsel Town Crystal pursued singing careers for herself, Aunt Penny, and her daughter. Shanice was the first to find success. Beginning at age 5 she appeared in musicals, commercials, and television kid shows. To expand her vocal range she studied with a vocal coach Seth Riggs, who was also Michael Jackson’s coach. In 1984 when she was 10 years old, she appeared in a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial with Jazz Legend Ella Fitzgerald. She also became a regular dancer on the Nickelodeon TV show "Kids Incorperated".in 1984. At age 11 in 1985 she sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on the Star Search talent show winning first prize.
A&M Records Star at 14
John McClain an agent from A&M records saw her perform in the musical “Get Happy” in 1985. Impressed he signed the 11 year old Shanice to a contract with A&M Records, The label waited until she was 15 to record her first album, as they believed that it would be unrealistic for an eleven year old child to sing convincing love songs. A&M released Shanice’s debut album Discovery in 1988 when she was 14. Two of the singles became top ten R&B hits "(Baby Tell Me) Can You Dance" and "No 1/2 Steppin". Hearing Shanice, Michael Jackson invitied her to watch him film his “Moonwalker” video. Talking afterwards Jackson advised Shanice to write her own songs. He said that is how he became more famous.
Also in 1991 Motown Records eagerly signed her vowing to bring her to fame. Motown president Jheryl Busby told Billboard magazine, "I tried to sign Shanice when I was at MCA, So when I had this second opportunity to work with her, I signed her immediately…. She’s a cornerstone artist for us, and her project became a major priority the moment she signed with the company."
With a new opportunity Shanice took Michael Jackson’s advice. She wrote songs with the help of her Motown producer, Narada Michael Walden. Walden who has worked with Whitney Houston Aretha Franklin, and Mariah Cary said Shanice was one of the most talented singers he ever worked with. Guided by Walden Sharice co-wrote 8 of the 12 songs on her first Motown release, Inner Child. Shanice said in an interview “When we first met, he asked me to write down my ideas and they became the titles for some of the songs we wrote together." In the USA Today Shanice spoke about writing her big hit "I Love Your Smile": "When I was working on my album, the Persian Gulf War was going on. Everybody was depressed. I wanted to bring out a song that would make people smile."
I Love Your Smile Takes the World
The single “I Love Your Smile” made Motown, Waldan, and millions of fans around the world smile with great joy. It was number one in twenty two countries, including the U.S. The album “Inner Child” album sold millions and went Platinum. The album also showcased Shanice’s five octave vocal range on her cover of Minnie Riperton's song "Lovin' You. With worldwide success Shanice went on an international tour appearing in Hong Kong, Holland, England, Germany, and Canada
With the success of “Inner Child” Shanice was a singer in demand. She sang on the sound tracks for the movies "Boomerang," "Meteor Man," “Pocahontas” and “Panther” along with song “Saving Forever for You” for the TV show One on One and a top ten single for Beverly Hills 90210” She also sang background vocals for Toni Braxton, Usher, Mary J. Blige, and Babyface. She sang the duet “Love Will Follow with Kenny Loggins on his “Live in the Redwoods” CD.
More Releases and Broadway
In 1994 Motown released Shanice’s second album, “21 Ways to Grow” produced by Earth Wind & Fire guitarist Dick Smith and Rhett Lawrence. In 1995 Shanice appeared on Broadway as the first African American to play the role of Eponine in the musical Les Misérables. Babyface signed Shanice to his LeFace Records label and release her fourth album, "Shanice" in 1999 along with her greatest hits compilation, “Ultimate Collection: The Best of Shanice.” The single “When I Close My Eyes.” From the Shanice album jumped from #91 to #16 in one week and peaked at number 12 on the Hot 100.
In 2000 Shanice took a hiatus from her music career to focus on her life. She married actor/comedian Flex Alexander and had two children. After a six year break she released the independently produced album Every Woman Dreams on her on label Imajah (named for her two children. It reached number 30 on the R&B album charts.
In 2010 she sang on the sang the song "Behind The Mask" to honor her mentor Michael Jackson on the posthumous Michael Jackson's album "Michael". John McClain, who signed Shanice A&M, is the executor of Michael Jackson’s estate. He asked Shanice to participate in the Jackson project.