For those of you who don’t know, Junior Star Singer is the brainchild of none other than Amanda Neale, the music and entertainments entrepreneur who is lending her expertise to budding young stars. In between radio tours, interviewing celebrities and writing novels, Amanda also has a rich history in the industry, having been a popstar herself in the early 90s! We managed to steal ten minutes out of her hectic day to find out more about it…
Hi Amanda! So tell us, as we’re all dying to know, about your time in a girl group!
I was first in a band called ‘4 Nations’ in the early nineties. The name hence because we all had different nationalities and cultures. We were a pop garage band emerging at a time when garage music first game out in London. The days of Rosie Gaines and ‘Sweet like Chocolate’, when Artful Dodger was touring and Craig David first came out. It was a really cool time in the music industry. A garage girl band gave us credibility and we weren’t too cheesy! We recorded an album and performed in venues in and around London. A very wonderful time of my life.
Sounds great! Did you get to meet or work with anyone exciting?
We did so many private parties and events up and down the country, and in particular in London. We performed at the Capital Extravaganza show in Earls Court where Bewitched and the Honeys also were on the line up. We were mentored by Victor who worked and toured in soul band Soul to Soul in their earlier days.
What is your favourite memory from your time within 4Nations?
I think it’s the fun of getting them together and perhaps all the photoshoots, and recording sessions. It was really hard work though. We had 5 hour rehearsals on a Sunday morning at 7am. It was crazy really when I think about the expectations we used to put on each other to get to the standard we wanted. But we loved every minute of it.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment whilst performing?
It was in our earlier days, when we started out and realised we had done our show at West One Four in Kensington without harmonies. It was hilarious. An act would never think of doing that now of course. At the time it was embarrassing but when I look back on it now, it is just so funny.
Oh dear! When did you decide you wanted to be a singer and what was your inspiration to do so?
I originally wanted to be a TV presenter or news reader and had worked on several newspapers and even read the news on the radio. Then one day my brother heard me singing at home and said perhaps I should do something about it. I recorded a tape and sent it to a studio in London. The rest is history.
Who is your favourite girl band and why?
I think I have to admit that Destiny’s Child were one of my favourites because they were so much fun and had powerful, strong vocals, which really is important in a girl group. Destiny’s child really knew how to put on a show and record great tracks. If we’re talking recent girl groups, then I would have to say ‘Little Mix’ as they have matured really well. They were a fresh young girl group and now have become a sophisticated commercial pop and R’n’B sound. They’ll be around for a long time!
What do you think the main differences are between girl bands in the 90s and girl bands today?
That’s a tough one………I know that we would have benefited more with marketing , had social media been around then. The girl bands today have been able to get promoted a lot quicker than we were ever allowed to. I also think that music has become more advanced now, with a fuller sound so girl groups sound more and more appealing.
What’s been the best advice that someone has given you?
In the music industry I would have to say it came from Don E who is one of my producers. He produced the Sugababes and has worked with the All Saints as well. His advice was that if you are driven and never give up, you will achieve what you want. I am so pleased with everything I have done and look forward to every new project I embark on. With every window, there is another door.