Rachel Stevens (born 9 April 1978) is an English singer, actress and
occasional model. She is a former member, and one of the lead singers, of the
successful pop group S Club (7), and launched a solo recording career in 2003,
releasing seven singles and two albums in the UK between 2003 and 2005. In 2008,
she came second in the sixth series of the BBC One series Strictly Come Dancing
with her dance partner Vincent Simone.
Born in Southgate, London to a middle class Jewish family, she attended Ashmole School in London. At the age of fifteen, Rachel beat 5000 competitors in a modeling competition sponsored by Just 17 magazine. Following her first modeling jobs, she decided to study at the London School of Fashion and ended up working in public relations.
At the age of twenty one, Rachel became a member of the British pop group S Club 7, which were a BRIT Award-winning English pop group created by former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller. The group rose to fame via their own BBC television programme and by selling 16 million records worldwide and launching four number one hit singles in the United Kingdom. S Club disbanded in 2003.
After S Club were disbanded, Rachel signed a £1.5 million ($2.3 million) solo four-album deal with Polydor Records and re-signed with S Club manager, Simon Fuller. Breaking out on her own after success with S Club was hard for Stevens, "I think we ended up conforming to what people's perceptions were," she said about the group. "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."
Rachel Stevens' first solo single, written by Cathy Dennis (who has also written for Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue) and produced by JuStar, was "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex", released in September 2003.
Taking inspiration from R&B music most reminiscent of TLC and Sugababes, and adult-style pop music by Madonna, Stevens's debut solo album, Funky Dory was released later that month. The album was a minor hit, reaching number nine on the UK albums chart. Although the album was not a huge commercial success, it did gain praise from pop critics. Jamie Gill, in a review for Yahoo! Launch, said that Rachel "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 sexy, 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 four. 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's previous single.
In July 2004, Rachel released a brand new song, "Some Girls" which was produced by Richard X. After the commercial failure of both her album and previous song hopes were high for "Some Girls" to perform well on the charts, with critics calling the song her career make or break release. The song became a hit across Europe, and reached number two in the UK. All profits from the song went to the BBC Sport Relief charity. On its release HMV.co.uk called the song Stevens's "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". "More More More" peaked at number three in the UK, giving Rachel her third top ten solo single in the UK. At this point, Rachel stepped up promotion, inadvertently earning herself a Guinness World Record for “Most Public Appearances by a Pop Star in 24 Hours in Different Cities” (Seven on 8 September-9 September 2004).
In late 2004, Rachel 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 hit in the UK, reaching the top ten.
"Negotiate with Love" was followed-up by the song "So Good", which was released in July and was another success when it peaked at number ten in the UK. It was hailed as a good pop song that was "tastily produced and sassily delivered."
In the summer of 2005, Channel 4 broadcasted a documentary which followed Rachel through the summer as she promoted "So Good". After the singles and the documentary appeared, Rachel released 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. The album was also released as a special 'Limited Edition' CD and DVD. Two years after the album's release, The Guardian placed it in their article "1000 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" list.
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's career with it being hailed by HMV.co.uk for its "astonishingly flawless vocal performance" and as Stevens's "most commercially accessible and quirky single since "Some Girls"."
While Rachel was a member of S Club 7, she appeared in four series of S Club shows S Club 7 Go Wild! Miami 7, L.A. 7, Hollywood 7, and Viva S Club. The group also starred in the feature film, Seeing Double. In 2004, Rachel appeared in Suzie Gold, followed by a minor cameo role in Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005).
As part of promoting music releases, Rachel often appeared on live children's television shows such as Smile and SMTV Live. When appearing on Dick and Dom In Da Bungalow, a show known for children playing games which were sometimes messy, Rachel refused to take part, much to the dismay of the hosts and left before the end of the show.
In 2005, Rachel played a character called "Jane-Mary" in a Spider Man charity spoof called Spider-Plant Man for the BBC appearing opposite Rowan Atkinson. In December 2007 it was announced that Rachel would be transformed into a nine-inch high plasticine character for Glendogie Bogey, a new animated comedy for BBC Scotland.
Later in 2005, Rachel also played a minor role in Dominic Veall's ITV television drama Flawless playing Lucy Carlts, the sister of Rodger Carlts.
Rachel is also apparently very keen on landing a role in Doctor Who, despite competition in the form of Lily Allen, as well as being described as "in talks" to appear in the second series of BBC One's Merlin.
In August 2008, it was announced that Rachel would take part in the 2008 series of Strictly Come Dancing, which started on 20 September. She was partnered with professional dancer Vincent Simone, and together they hold the record for the most perfect 10s ever achieved in any series of Strictly Come Dancing, thus beating out other contestants including 2007 winner Alesha Dixon and 2008 winner Tom Chambers. Rachel finished in second place.
This Rachel Stevens Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub