Ladies and Gentlemen–Rhona Bennett
Rhona Bennett: The Anticipation of R&B
By: Eleanor L. Smith
It is quite amazing when you see someone of whom you’ve known since you were a child obtain the success that they were destined to achieve. I can remember the days when Rhona, myself and my cousins would all gather around the television and go crazy over the Pop/R&B group The Boys—you know, the four brothers who had every teenage girl’s heart with hits like ‘Dial My Heart’ and ‘Lucky Charm’ back in the 1980s. But it was not until I heard her harmonizing to Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ while it played on the radio during one of our sleepovers, did I notice that beautiful voice of hers. The next thing I knew, Rhona was on her way to superstardom. During our interview, we chuckled about the times we had back in the day, especially the card parties that both our mothers remember and still laugh about to this day. And I actually remember seeing her on television and being so excited, that I called my mother and screamed into the phone, “Ma, Rhona is on Showtime at the Apollo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” But deep down, I really wasn’t surprised.
Born and raised in Chicago, Rhona’s journey into the world of entertainment began growing up listening to artists like Luther Vandross and The Gap Band, but the vocals of Whitney Houston captured her heart and songs like ‘You Give Good Love’ and ‘Saving All My Love For You’ were her favorites. “It (wanting to sing and entertain) started very early for me. I had a very vivid imagination and a self sufficient personality as a kid. I was very creative in how I utilized my time by myself and lived in my own little world in my parents’ basement. I used to visit with my maternal grandmother in Alabama and organized little talent shows with my cousins and her foster kids-she had a foster care home. And when my parents came in, we would put on a show,” she said. But it was her grandmother who told her parents that they should pay attention to Rhona and soon she began to sing in the church choir at the age of nine. But a year later, the 10 year old was fully aware that something special was in her future and she wanted to know exactly how to get there. “I asked my mother very seriously ‘what can you do for me?’ and of course, she didn’t have a clue, because neither of my parents were into fine arts,” she laughed. Next she became a member of the Soul Children of Chicago, a children’s choir that performed in various churches around the city and also traveled—quite a cool experience for a kid and within a blink of an eye, Rhona was doing performances at the legendary ETA Theater where she was spotted by an agent, and it was on from there.
Ms. Rhona Bennett-vocalist, actress, performer and overall entertainer. She has made it and has garnered a lengthy list of gems under her belt thus far: as a child with stars in her eyes and the golden key to her dreams within palm’s reach, a role was created for her in ABC’s television series ‘The Women of Brewster’s Place’, then came her becoming a Mouseketeer and doing four seasons of the Disney show being among notables like Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell (of Felicity fame), JC Chasez and Christina Aguilera to name a few. Then she was Hollywood bound landing roles on ‘Homeboys from Outer Space,’ ‘Living Single’ and you may know her as the singing ‘Nicole’ on ‘The Jamie Foxx Show’ as well as prominent stage plays such as ‘Men Cry In The Dark’ (an adaptation of Michael Baisden’s novel) and ‘Love Overboard’. Pretty soon, opportunity knocked on her door, yet again-this time to contribute musically to the hit making all female powerhouse group En Vogue, and after writing material for their ‘Soul Flower’ project, Rhona was asked to join the group and enjoyed a musical marriage with the ladies for over half a decade.
Having paid her dues, Ms. Rhona is ready for the world to take an in depth look into her life through her craft, which is music. ‘The Anticipation of R&B’, her sophomore album that is in its final stages of completion, is her story that she tells her way—her thoughts, her heart. “R&B is Rhona Bennett, of course pun intended. I am singing R&B music and my cousin helped me come up with the title. It’s soul music because it’s coming from me, I got to write or co-write a lot of the stuff, which is definitely different. So it just seemed fitting to name the record that. A lot of people were like, ‘when are you coming out with an album?’ and ‘why don’t you do an album?’ Since ‘Rhona’, (her first album release) which was nine years ago, I haven’t put out an album and I got comfortable singing with En Vogue and being a team player. My sights on doing a solo album weren’t as prominent and once Dawn (Robinson, original member of En Vogue) came back and the ladies wanted to see what kind of magic was still there, it lit a spark in me to go for what I wanted, which is to do another solo project,” she explained.
Releasing two singles entitled ‘Range’ and ‘Letting You Go,’ Rhona says that the project is strictly stories from Ms. R and B’s world and she hopes that the audience can pull something unique within herself in delivering the message due to her exploring new arenas and giving us a chance to peer more into how deep she may go. The message of who she is was delivered in a way that only she can do-plain and simple. “It was a great experience doing the first album, which is more pop and I got to see the world…however, with this one, it is an opportunity for me to actually write and vocally produce my album..and tell my story from my own perspective…I had my hands all in it..I’ve never done it before…I got a chance to explore myself as an artist with this project, so you are getting a taste of me,” she gleams.
As our conversation comes to a close, I take note of how poised, articulate and elegant Rhona is and I smile to myself thinking, ‘wow, we’re grown women now doing our thang!’ I tell her that I can’t wait to run into her on the red carpet at the Grammys where I will interview her again. I could tell that she was smiling. Her response? “I know! And we will be kee kee’in (giggling) then!!!”
For more on Rhona Bennett, please visit the following sites:
http://missrnbworld.blogspot.com The new blog site
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- July 27, 2010 / 3:51 am
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