R&B Bridgez: Celebrating 25 Years of ‘Inner Child’ with Shanice


“She has a big heart, her song “I Love Your Smile” is a true representation of who she is. And that’s hard to find, for a person who’s been in the industry for as long as she has been. With the ups and downs of the industry, with what happens with careers sometimes, she has always maintained that spirit! I so love her for that!” – Rahsaan Patterson

Shanice has been my favorite singer since she debuted in 1987. I remember being a kid, telling any and everybody I knew about Shanice Wilson. To me she had it all – beauty, charisma, talent, she could dance her butt off and she had the voice of an absolute angel.

In 1991, when she released “Inner Child.” I had already begged my mother to get me the compact disc before the release date. So on November 19th when it was released, time my mother got home from work we were on our way to our local mom & pop store to pick it up.

It immediately became an instant favorite of mine and until this day, Shanice’s “Inner Child” album is on my Top 5 list of favorite albums of all time.

What I personally loved about the album, is you could feel and hear the musical chemistry between Shanice and Songwriter/Producer Narada Michael Walden, who’s responsible for Whitney Houston’s hits at the beginning of her career, for those that don’t know.

“Inner Child” wasn’t just another R&B album, it was fun, young, social conscious, pop, hip-hop and came out in a time in the 90s, when R&B was appreciated and respected.

Shanice used her platform to speak out on the Gulf War at the time, without directly speaking on it with songs like “Peace In The World” and “Silent Prayer” featuring Johnny Gill. Those songs gave us hope, during a time where that was the furthest thing from our minds.

On “Inner Child,” Shanice was a young adult and not the same teen pop star she debuted as. She actually co-wrote the majority of the songs on the album with Narada Michael Walden. Songs like “I’m Cryin’” and “I Hate To Be Lonely” which showcased her maturity. Other songs she co-penned included “Peace In The World,” “You Were the One,” a song she wrote with her mother Crystal and her best-friend Mookie and of course, the smash “I Love Your Smile.”

So with all of that said, it gives me great pleasure to celebrate the anniversary of an album, that changed my life and hopefully did the same for others in a positive way.

Shanice is such a genuine and positive person in general, this album is a true testament of who she is and what she is capable of.

Take this trip down memory lane with us for R&B Bridgez: “Celebrating 25 Years of Shanice’s “Inner Child” with Shanice!”

– AriesUBG (UrbanBridgez.com)

Shanice Wilson-Knox made her official music debut in 1987 via A&M Records with the album, “Discovery.”

The album scored two Top 10 R&B hits, “(Baby Tell Me) Can You Dance” and “No 1/2 Steppin’,” as well as the radio hits “The Way You Love Me,” “Just A Game” and “Do I Know You.”

Signing with Motown in 1990, Shanice released her sophomore album 25 Years ago in late November of 1991 entitled “Inner Child.”

25 Years Today on December 7th, 1991 — “Inner Child” was a heatseekers debut on Billboards Top Albums Chart at #21.

Inner Child” album was a collaboration with Narada Michael Walden, that went Gold and soared with the #1 R&BI Love Your Smile,” which earned her a GRAMMY nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance (Female). The single went #2 on Billboard‘s pop chart and was an international smash, going #1 in 22 countries.

Shanice followed it up with the release of the #11 R&B “I’m Cryin’.” Followed by “Silent Prayer,” a duet with Johnny Gill which hit #4 R&B/Top 40 pop, followed by “Lovin’ You” which reached #59.

Inner Child” also gave Shanice a chance to showcase her budding skills as a songwriter. Aside from a cover of Minnie Riperton‘s “Lovin’ You,” the album included majority of her collaborations with Narada.

Also in 1992, Shanice contributed her vocal skills to “Don’t Wanna Love You,” a track on the best-selling LaFace Boomerang soundtrack and that same year, Shanice was back on the charts with her second top 5 hit, “Saving Forever For You” written by Diane Warren and produced by David Foster from the soundtrack of Beverly Hills 90210.

In 1993, she scored again with “It’s For You” (from the movie Meteor Man) and in the wake of her success with “I Love Your Smile,” Shanice appeared on The Essence Awards and was the first musical guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as well as performing at a special event for President Clinton, that same year.

Check out some other Live Performances during the “Inner Child” era. “I’m Cryin‘” from Live at The Apollo is one of the best live television vocal performances ever!

“Inner Child” entered heatseekers at #21 on 12/07/1991. Graduated 1/11/92 when it reached #24 on the Top R&B Albums. First Rumblings: “I’ve known Shanice since 1986 and realized she was a superstar then, says Michael Mitchell, VP communications, Motown. Her vocals have matured–a five-octave voice deserves attention. When our pop & R&B people come back to us with raves on the advance cassette, we knew we had something. We were getting 5,000 plays a week on pop radio when [I Love Your Smile] was released, it was a monster.” – billboard (June 20, 1992)

UB spoke with Shanice in a previous interview where she spoke on “I love Your Smile,” the 90s and being on Motown.

UrbanBridgez.com: You released one of the biggest singles in the 90’s “I Love Your Smile,” looking back now how did that single shape your career or did it?
Shanice: Wow, that single actually shocked me because I didn’t want it to be the first single. Jheryl Busby (former CEO of Motown) forced it on me, I co-wrote it but it was just so happy. I was thinking, people are going to think I’m corny and I was crying and was like please Jheryl don’t release this first. He said this is the first single and I’m not changing it! But because of that single, I am still able to travel all over the world and tour in different countries. It’s amazing because everywhere I go, I’m still hearing it. I really didn’t expect “I Love Your Smile” to be as big as it was. I was at the dentist in the chair and I never talk about what I do. The song came on and I said, that’s my song! And he was like that’s you, that’s you (laughs)! I hear it when I’m in the grocery store, I just hear that song everywhere (laughs). It was during a fun time and the industry was so different back then, we had so much fun. It’s alot different now with the internet and for independent artists, it’s a great thing. But people aren’t selling records like they use to, it’s just all different now. And at Motown it was like we were all family, I would go up and sit in everybody’s office and we would just talk for hours & just kick it. It was just fun, It didn’t feel like work, it was a great time. The 90’s was the best, I’m glad I was able to come out in the 90’s. I’m happy I got to experience that because I don’t think the industry will ever go back to that, the way it use to be.

Shanice started her career by becoming the grand champion on, the world-renowned show Star Search. Not long after, she appeared on the popular TV show Kids Incorporated. Along with “Inner ChildShanice has recorded five studio albums, with the sixth on the way.

In 1999 Shanice broke a Billboard record, when her LaFace Records debut single, “When I Close My Eyes” entered at #91 and jumped to #16 the next week on the Hot 100. Holding the record for the biggest leap in one-week. She’s also starred on Broadway in Les Miserables. In 2006 Shanice released “Every Woman Dreams” her first album released on her own label Imajah Records. And just this year she completed, three seasons of “Flex & Shanice,” a reality show on Oprah‘s OWN Network.

We talked to Shanice recently, to discuss the 25th anniversary of “Inner Child.”

UrbanBridgez.com: When you went into record “Inner Child” what kind of goals did you have for the album and did you accomplish them?
Shanice: When I went in to record “Inner Child” I wanted to record an album that would bring Joy to the world. At the time there was so much sadness in the world, due to the war (Gulf War). That’s why we had songs like “I Love Your Smile,” “Peace In The World” and “Silent Prayer,” because those songs were uplifting.

UrbanBridgez.com: What song from “Inner Child” means the most to you and why?
Shanice: Every song on the album meant everything to me! But if I had to choose one, it would have to be “Silent Prayer.” I truly mean, every song on the album meant the world to me. I absolutely loved working with my boy Johnny Gill. I mean his voice is just incredible. But like I said before, the world needs prayer. With all of the shootings going on and the racism today, we really need to be praying!

UrbanBridgez.com: What was the energy like with you Narada Michael Walden while working on the project. Any stories you would like to share?
Shanice: I really really loved working with Narada! He’s such an amazing vocal producer. He pushed me really hard in the studio and took me out of my comfort zone I was use to. Some of the keys were really high for me, but he knew I could do it. And he wouldn’t change them anyway (laughs). When I recorded “Forever In Your Love,” the key kept changing to a higher key. I was so mad, but I’m glad he didn’t listen to me, because I didn’t know I could sing that high at that time (laughs). I also wanted to be a rapper back then, so Narada allowed me to rap on “Inner Child.” I wanted to be MC Lyte so, so bad (laughs)! I don’t know if my fans already know this about me, because it’s hilarious. I’m still a rapper in my head (laughs).

UrbanBridgez.com: What are you the most proud of with the “Inner Child” album?
Shanice: I’m extremely proud of my GRAMMY nomination! It’s really because of “Inner Child,” that I still have fans all across the world. I’m always so thankful for my supporters. I couldn’t do what I love to do so much, without God and everyone’s support.
Released – October 22, 1991

Released – February 18, 1992

Released – April 28, 1992

Released – August 11, 1992

[The Videos]

Over the years, friends of Shanice and her husband Flex Alexander have spoken to UB about Shanice.

UrbanBridgez.com: Speaking of Shanice, she’s one of our favorites and you’ve worked with her in the past as well as this release. Will you be working with her for her new album and what’s something about her that you think people should know if they don’t?

Rahsaan Patterson: I would love to work with Shanice all the time! She is one of my favorite singers as well. She was one of the few, for our generation that put a record out at a really early age. Like she was 12 when she got signed and put the record out when she was 14. That hadn’t been done since Stacey Lattisaw. And when young people are put into the music world at such an young age, they really stand out! Amongst all of the older people, and meaning older people who are over 17 years old. So she has a tremendous gift and I love her to death. I’d love to work with her anytime. One thing about Shanice, is her spirit is really beautiful and pure! She has been consistent in who she is in that way every since I’ve known her. She has a big heart, her song “I Love Your Smile” is a true representation of who she is. And that’s hard to find, for a person who’s been in the industry for as long as she has been and I. With the ups and downs of the industry, with what happens with careers sometimes, she has always maintained that spirit! I so love her for that!

UrbanBridgez.com: Shanice is dropping a new album this year, can you tell us about that and why you personally feel Shanice doesn’t get the credit she fully deserves within the industry?

Flex Alexander: Yeah she’s working on it now and we hope to have it out by the end of the summer. She doesn’t get the credit, because you know these cookie cutter artists who come out with one song and if you’re not 17 and half naked people don’t want to support you. And she’s not going to do what alot of those girls would do to get ahead. That’s just being real, I’m not singling out anyone particular. You know how this industry is, I just feel like she’s held a standard for so long. It’s just her time & I think God will reward her. I think doing it the way we’re doing it independently and distribution as well as an European deal as well, I think it’s great. Because the majors are going to be done soon, they’re going to be collapsed! You have all these great artist out here like my wife, Rahsaan Patterson, Lalah Hathaway these are great singers. Kelly Price, they should all be so much bigger and so much more love! But it’s like you get married, have some babies you’re not sexy. But having kids being a wife is sexy. I don’t think there is nothing more sexier than that at all. And I’m not hating any other artists because I feel everybody has their time and is blessed to do stuff. But this industry and it’s sad because our people we do it to ourselves. White folks support, if Barbra Streisand said I’m doing a concert tomorrow, it would be sold out! We went to see Bette Midler and it was sold out and she hadn’t performed in 15 years. I just think we have to support our artists more and the singers that we love we just have to support them!

UrbanBridgez.com: What’s one of your most personal favorites from your wife?
Flex Alexander: Before I met her I had bought her ‘Shanice’ CD and there is a song called “Fall For You,” that and “Just A Game.” Will Downing had redid it and I didn’t know it was her original song at first. I had bought his album and it was on there & I was like this song is great! And when I met her she was like that’s my song, I was like that was yours? So I think those two are my favorite two songs by my wife.

UrbanBridgez.com: So many people forget you use to dance and have appeared in music videos, will we see you in any up-coming Shanice videos dancing (laughs)?
Flex Alexander: Oh my God (laughs)! A good friend of mine from back in the day, a choreographer name Donovan Henry just Facebooked me and sent a video of The Rude Boys, not sure if you remember them?

UrbanBridgez.com: Oh yeah I remember, Gerald LeVert’s group (laughs).
Flex Alexander: Oh My God (laughs), I just watched it today. I was on the floor! I could not believe it and I watched on YouTube a bunch of videos I did Crystal Waters, ‘Gypsy Woman’ (sings ‘La da dee la dee da’), Queen Latifah ‘Fly Girls,’ I mean gosh that was such a fun time. Business was different, it was a fun time man. I loved dancing, but you won’t see me dancing no time soon. Not at all!

UrbanBridgez.com: I know you’re working on Shanice’s new project, what’s it like when you two get into the studio together? You’ve been working with each other a long time.
Steven Russell: First of all, I absolutely love Shanice! I’ve known her all my life. We’re both from Pasadena, we actually came up together in the music business. And she is still right now, one of the best vocalist that exist in this business!

UrbanBridgez.com: I agree!
Steven Russell: She’s probably the best. Her and Keke Wyatt, Shanice is absolutely the best man. She’s a producer’s dream; she’s just a veteran man. She just happens to be a young vet, ya know. She looks 15 (laughs). The girl is experienced, she’s like a Whitney Houston, you know what I mean. She’s the best, absolutely the best! We got some really, really strong songs on Shanice’s new record. Really strong, people are going to be blown away.

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