Rachel Lauren Stevens (born April 9, 1978) is a British singer and an occasional actress. Formerly with the successful pop group S Club 7, she has now launched a successful solo recording career.
After a successful audition Rachel Stevens became a member of the British pop group S Club 7, selling sixteen million records worldwide and achieving four number hit singles in the UK. The band broke-up in 2003 due to undisclosed reasons. Stevens' became the first member of the band to sign a multi-million dollar recording contract and released her first solo single, "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex", in late 2003, reaching number two on the UK singles chart. Her first album did not fare so well, peaking at disappointing number nine on the UK albums chart and quickly disappearing. Stevens' follow-up single also failed to gain much attention. Critics began to write her off as a one-hit wonder until she came back with the song "Some Girls" (2004) which became an instant hit in the UK, peaking at number two. In late 2005 Stevens released her second solo album, which failed to perform on the charts, becoming a commercial failure even though it was praised by the pop music press.
Rachel Stevens was born in Southgate, London to a Jewish family. Her
now-estranged father, Michael Stevens, is notable for producing a guide to the
best places to solicit prostitutes in London. Her mother is Linda Stevens. She
attended Ashmole School in Southgate, London.
From a very early age, Stevens was drawn to entertaining people. At the age of five she began taking acting lessons at a drama school near London, but as time went on she seemed to be more interested in fashion than acting. At the age of fifteen her first big break when she beat out 4999 competitors in a modeling competition sponsored by Just 17 Magazine. Following her first modeling gig Stevens attended the London School of Fashion and after graduation worked in fashion PR, but began to lose interest and started to seek out a career in music instead.
Then, at the age of twenty, Stevens accompanied her brother to an audition in London for a new pop group, which was being put together by Simon Fuller, the one-time manager of the Spice Girls. Whilst waiting for her brother to audition, she was approached by the judges. After many calls and auditions she was chosen as a member of the new band S Club 7 , along with Tina Barrett, Paul Cattermole, Jon Lee, Bradley McIntosh, Jo O'Meara and Hannah Spearritt.
Rachel Stevens and S Club 7 quickly rose to fame, with their debut single "Bring It All Back" reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart in June 1999. The band's follow-up, "S Club Party" was also a hit, the bands self-titled debut album also sold well. The success of their debut album landed the band their own TV show, S Club 7 in Miami. Minor success in the United States followed.
Rachel Stevens probably enjoyed more success then the rest of the band members, as she received the most media attention and was a fan favourite. Despite the negative press the male members of the band had been receiving, Stevens was not affected by it and in 2000 was voted the second s--iest woman on the planet by men's magazine FHM. Around 2002 to 2003, Jo the lead singer had vocal problems for lots of weeks that's why Rachel had to do the lead vocals including the background and the shouting parts and really turned out to be great.
Soon after 2000 the band began to lose steam and they could not live up to past success with both record sales and television ratings down. The band was able to release a successful film in 2003 called S Club Seeing Double but after a UK tour, the members of S Club 7 decided to break up.
After S Club 7 broke up, Stevens signed a £1.5 million solo four-album deal with Polydor Records and re-signed with S Club 7 manager, Simon Fuller. Breaking out on her own after success with S Club 7 was hard for Stevens, "I think we ended up conforming to what people's perceptions was," she said about the band. "This one was the ditzy one, this one was the singer, this one was the dancer. And to come out of that and be a whole person has been a real challenge for me. I didn't have my say, really, in the group. None of us did." Stevens was the first member from the group to sign a solo recording contract and expectations were high for her first release to be a success.
Rachel Stevens' first solo single, written by Cathy Dennis (who has also written for Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue) and produced by Bloodshy & Avant, was "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex", released in September 2003. The single was a hit, debuting at number two on the UK singles chart, holding off the Black Eyed Peas and their international hit single "Where Is The Love?. The single was also a hit worldwide peaking in the top ten in multiple countries including Ireland and Sweden.
Taking inspiration from R&B music most reminiscent of TLC and Sugababes, and adult-style pop music by Madonna, Stevens' debut solo album, Funky Dory was released later that month. The album was a minor hit, reaching number nine on the UK albums chart and quickly fading away in subsequent weeks almost without a trace. Although the album was not a commercial success it did gain praise from pop-critics. Jamie Gill, in a review for Yahoo! Launch, said that Stevens "eschews the cheap and cheerful approach of her old band for a slinky adult confidence and musical eclecticism."
That December, the album's title track, "Funky Dory" was released as the second single. The song was hailed as being sophisticated and s--y, like its predecessor, and featured a sample of the David Bowie song "Andy Warhol" from his album Hunky Dory. Hopes were high that the single would be able to match the success of "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex", but like her album the single made a low showing on the charts, peaking at number twenty six and then quickly disappearing. The song was given mixed reviews by pop-critics with some calling it "musically better than "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex" with a hybrid of pop, Latin and even a hint of jazz infusion" but not a good choice as a single as it lacked anything special and different, as it did not live up to Stevens' previous single.
In July 2004, Rachel Stevens released a brand new single, "Some Girls" which was produced by Richard X. After the commercial failure of both her album and previous single hopes were high for "Some Girls" to perform well on the charts, with critics calling the single her career make or break release. The single became a hit across Europe, and reached number two in the UK. All profits from the single went to the BBC Sport Relief charity. On its release HMV.co.uk called the single Stevens' "finest song to date", and Yahoo! Launch commented "she came to save her career. She ended up saving pop."
Due to the success of "Some Girls", Funky Dory was re-released to include "Some Girls" and another new track, a cover of Andrea True Connection's "More More More". On its single release, "More More More" peaked at number three in the UK, giving Stevens her third top ten solo single in the UK. The song was not well received by critics who called the vocals on the song weak and the fact that the song is a cover uninspiring.
That November, Stevens was nominated for seven awards at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. She took home two awards, Most Fanciable Female and Best Dressed Star.
In late 2004, Rachel Stevens began working on her second solo album with producers and songwriters Richard X, Alexis Strum and Xenomania. The following March she released the first single from her upcoming album, "Negotiate With Love". The song was a success reaching the top ten in the UK and received good reviews by critics for its mature and confident sound.
"Negotiate with Love" was followed-up by the song "So Good", which was released in July and peaked at number ten in the UK. The song was criticized for being unoriginal and much like her previous singles, but it was also hailed as a good pop song that was "tastily produced and sassily delivered."
The singles were followed by Stevens' second full length studio album, Come And Get It in October 2005. The album was, like her previous effort, a minor success peaking at number twenty eight in the UK. Come And Get It sold only 18,000 copies in Britain in its first 3 months and has been deemed a commercial failure, even though the British pop magazines hailed it as a great pop album.
The last single released from the album was "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)", released in October 2005 the song peaked at number twelve in the UK. The single received some of the best reviews of Stevens' career with it being hailed by HMV.co.uk for its "astonishingly flawless vocal performance" and as Stevens' "most commercially accessible and quirky single since "Some Girls"."
Due to the low charting of the album and its singles no further singles were released, although multiple rumors stated that "Nothing Good About This Goodbye" and the Richard X produced "Crazy Boys" were going to be released as singles. In early January 2006, rumors surfaced that Stevens was dropped from Polydor Records. However, a statement arose from the Polydor executives stating that she is still with Polydor.
Just before the release of Come And Get It, Stevens was featured in a documentary, Rachel: My World which was shown on Channel 4's teenage strand T4, with cameras following Stevens around for the summer, at road shows, recording her album, and doing more humble things such as eating out and going to the gym.
Many critics have stated that Rachel Stevens should leave the music business for good and "jump before she's pushed", calling her a "more expensive Lisa Scott-Lee" (failed British singer), and that her managers "forgot to give her a personality". She is often criticized for not singing live and using her appearances in men's magazines such as FHM to sell records. However, Stevens plans to continue her music career, and will begin recording her third album in mid-2006, as stated by her label. The album will most likely be released at the end of the year. Also, she has a planned "UK return" with a new single in spring 2006.
Although 2005 did not bring the commercial success of earlier years, Rachel Stevens made headlines when she followed in the footsteps of fellow British popstar Robbie Williams to front the Everyman Testicular Cancer Awareness campaign. Stevens' role was notable as she was the first woman to front the campaign. Her television commercial raised eyebrows with its suggestive content that included her telling men to "put one hand down their trousers and give their testicles a good feel". On the commercial, Stevens commented, "Sometimes men need a little encouragement to think about their health. This is a funny way of raising awareness about a serious subject."
In 2005 Rachel Stevens also took part in the Make Poverty History campaign, which aims to eliminate poverty in third world countries by supplying aid to them through food, money and other resources that these countries do not have. Stevens donated an undisclosed amount of money to the campaign, and also starred in television and magazine advertisements supporting the cause. Her official website also displayed the campaigns official online banner.
On Valentines Day in 2002, Rachel Stevens made headline when she became engaged to her longtime boyfriend, actor Jeremy Edwards. The engagement would not last long though, the couple broke up in early 2004 after they had been dating for over three years. Stevens made headlines in March 2004 when she was dumped by her rumored boyfriend, businessman Simon Brodin. The couple were rumoured to have dated for two months after Stevens broke-up with Edwards. The relationship was never confirmed by either side. Six months later Stevens again was in the tabloids as she started dating Gavin Dein, son of Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, the relationship would not last long with the couple splitting up in August 2005. Since then she has been linked to Mulbarton midfielder Tim Price after taking interest in him because she wanted him to star as her boyfriend in an upcoming music video. Stevens' commented on the rumors by telling Neil Sean of Sky Showbiz Gossip, "It's all top secret but my dream is to have the lovely Timmy in the video for the song as my boyfriend. I'd like that in real life too, but Iíll start with the video." However, she has recently been spotted in LA, where she is doing auditions and vacationing for a few months, with her "new boyfriend" on the 12th of February 2006, according to Splash News and The Mirror. "The couple spent hours lounging out by their hotel pool before heading off back to their room." Whether or not the gentlemen is in fact her "new boyfriend" has not been confirmed nor denied.
During her times with S Club 7, she was able to act in all S Club series like Hollywood 7, S Club in Miami, Viva S Club and all of it got high ratings worldwide. Before their break up, they were able to release an S Club movie entitled Seeing Double which was a huge success.
In her solo career, Stevens was offered/and auditioned for many acting projects. She auditioned for a role in the Jude Law movie Alfie, but lost the role to Sienna Miller. She also secretly auditioned for a role as the leading lady in the re-make of the hit series Doctor Who, but also lost the part to Billie Piper. Stevens appeared in a minor role in Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. She has also been called numbers of times to star in the Dr. Who spin-off Torchwood, and has been called for a meeting to sit with the show's producers. She has recently stated to New! magazine that she would like to attend drama school to receive proper training. She has previously announced that she would love to act with Oscar nominees such as Clive Owen and Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt.
Stevens is currently spending time in Los Angeles in preparation for launching an acting career. According to Stevens, she is working with the William Morris Agency, one of the largest acting agencies in the world.
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