Sheena Easton is best known for her ’80s pop hits, including the Top 10 singles “Strut,” “9 to 5 (Morning Train)” and “The Lover in Me,” as well as several successful collaborations with Prince. But when Easton comes to Spokane this weekend, she’s bringing something a bit different.
Easton will perform with the Spokane Symphony on Saturday night, and this season’s first SuperPops concert will pay tribute to the musical legacy of the James Bond franchise. Easton famously performed the title theme of 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only” − she’s featured lip-synching the song over the opening credits, the only Bond theme artist to do so − and she’ll be belting out that and other Bond songs.
“In spy movies and TV shows, there’s so much romance, glamor and action,” Easton said during a recent phone interview, “and there are so many great pieces of music associated with (the genre).”
The symphony program, conducted by Morihiko Nakahara, will include plenty of famous title tunes from the Bond franchise: “Diamonds Are Forever,” “A View to a Kill,” “Skyfall.” But it will also feature memorable themes from spy-themed cultural properties like “Mission: Impossible,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “The Pink Panther.”
Easton has had some experience with symphonic music before. Her 1993 album “No Strings” is a lush collection of standards by the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and others, and she’s performed some her pop ballads with live orchestral arrangements.
“I would get calls to perform a couple of my ballads with symphonies here and there,” Easton said. “I’d been asked many times to come in and do tributes to James Bond, having done ‘For Your Eyes Only.’ … I had an idea to take that and broaden the scope of it. And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to hear those pieces brought together with the symphony, and the energy it would bring?’ ”
This weekend marks only the second time Easton has performed this particular Bond-themed program: It premiered in San Francisco earlier in the year, and now Easton hopes to take it around the country. She will also have a couple of duets with vocalist Scott Coulter, who Easton said has plenty of experience on the Broadway stage.
“He’s got a wide range, and he’s got a beautiful voice,” she said. “He can tackle any material and he’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of material. He was just the perfect guy to do this material with.”
Easton currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and she still frequently performs her radio hits. But she said she throws herself into her symphony appearances as if they were high-energy pop shows.
“Over the years, I’ve become even more comfortable on stage,” she said. “If you go out there and let the audience know, ‘We’re here, we’re dressed up, let’s do this,’ they’ll go along for the ride. If somebody has come along as a friend of a friend or the wife has dragged the husband, if that unwilling partner gets into it by song three, then I’ve done my job.”
And there’s something about the sheer power of a symphony, she said, that really compels her.
“Every time I do it, it still really moves me,” Easton said. “I just love to be in the company of talent. The thrill of that is wonderful. I always consider myself very privileged to be able to go to work and get to stand in front of that sound so live and so close. It’s amazing.”
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