The nostalgic reality show that is The Big Reunion on ITV2 kicked off with a bang two weeks ago and I have to admit that at first I was a bit cynical.
I first heard the series had been commissioned early last year when Celena Cherry, lead singer of the Honeyz, told me that the producers of ITV2 had aporoached her for a new show in reuniting her 90’s girl band.
Naturally thrilled, I was so excited for “Cellie”, my first cousin and “Bestie”. I’ve known her all my life and knew firsthand what the Honeyz mean to her. I remember speaking with her in depth about it, and how we both voiced our concerns on how resurrecting the band may or may not affect her all these years on.
We both come from a very musical and talented family. Our parents, uncles and aunts are all very vibrant characters and when the whole family are together we can be a bit of a fun bunch to say the least! At one point growing up there were several teen bands in our family. You had the Honeyz, my own girl band Kleshay and two hot boys bands, Legato and Advance. Honeyz – Naima Belkhiati, Celena Cherry, Heavinli Abdi
Kleshay Promo Pic – Alani Gibbon, Candy Cherry & Leah Charles-King
What Celena didn’t mention in last night’s programme was that a hybrid of Honeyz and Kleshay actually started off way back in the 90’s as one whole band. But we had an entirely different name back then. I think it was something like “Girls with Harmony”, but I’ll have to ask Celena if she can remember!
‘Girls with Harmony’ were made up of Celena, her sister Candy, our other cousin Alani and myself. When we were kids I thought they were an obnoxious bunch but whenever we got together at our regular family gatherings we were always singing, dancing and making up plays to perform before the entire crowd. The other three girls went to stage school full time and although they were my cousins and we got along well, I always thought they were posh and stuck up. I only went to stage school part-time, and the running joke is that the girls viewed me a little like their “hillybilly cousin” who thought she was a “rude girl from the streets”. Cellie and I often have a little chuckle about this from time to time when we go down memory lane.
The “posh girls” Vs the “rude girl” – Celena, Candy & Leah
In the very early part of the 1990’s our original group got discovered by a family friend at our aunt’s party. We were singing in a corner entertaining ourselves as usual and I remember us making up four part harmonies to “Back to Life” by Soul to Soul. The family friend thought we were great and introduced us to a music producer who immediately put us into rehearsals every sunday. After a few months, Celena got a recording contract singing for Walt Disney and she left our band. The remaining three members Candy, Alani and myself formed “Kleshay“, We went on to get a record deal with Sony Music and enjoyed a couple of songs in the UK charts etc.
When the gig with Walt Disney ended Celena joined the Honeyz and the rest was history. They went on to sign a major record deal and to enjoy five top ten hit records in the UK charts.
Original line up: Heavenli, Celena, Naima
Despite the changes in line-up and the talk of bitchiness that Celena herself mentioned in last night’s show, the Honeyz did amazingly well, but just like my own band Kleshay, when the groups split up we all took it really badly in our own ways. As mentioned by both Celena and Adele from B*witched, being in a band for so long is like a marriage, and when it ends its one of the hardest things we have ever had to go through in our lives. It may sound OTT, but unless you’ve experienced it you may not understand. When you’re in a band, especially a band signed to a major label, your life is mapped out for you. You are caught up in a whirlwind machine which becomes you and you it. You believe your band is the greatest and will be around forever. Even through the sheer tiredness of your schedule and aggravation of living with your band mates 24 hours a day, the arguments, and the bitchiness, you cannot imagine yourself doing any thing else. Ever.
I understood what Celena went through because I went through the same thing myself, and know first hand how hard it was to get back up again after “my ten year marriage”. It was so difficult in the beginning to try and seek a purpose in a new career and start from scratch. We joined the entertainment business as young children and pretty much knew nothing else.
Whilst I’ve moved on and become successful within the media industry, Celena has gone on to do what I believe is the best and hardest job in the world, and that’s becoming a mother. She’s an awesome mum, but is still a frustrated performer who believes she hasn’t finished what she started all those years ago. Singing is what fullfils her and she openly spoke about it on The Big Reunion last night.
I spoke to Cellie just moments before the show aired, telling her I was thinking of watching Crimewatch at 9pm instead. Afterall i could always catch up on ITV2 +1. She wasn’t best pleased to hear this and I won’t tell you what she called me in the nicest way possible. She told me she was mega nervous about watching the show and was already on the white wine, so I poured a glass of bubbles and opted to watch my cousin’s beautiful face instead.
I must say I was very proud to see her reclaiming her place in the band. She was so honest when she spoke about her past experiences and I appreciated that she didn’t hold back with the viewers. I know from her personal feedback that speaking on camera about it after all these years was very cathartic and cleansing for her as she had been holding on to so many things all this time.
But now it’s time for me to be honest. And Cellie, if you read this I hope you don’t cuss me too hard but you know I keep it real! As I was watching the programme two things came to mind:
- Naima was a prudish, untalented witch.
- Could Heavenli come across any more insincere if she tried?
I remember back in the day Naima thought she was all that and a bag of side fries. To me she was the “exotic” yet totally untalented “French one” who couldn’t sing and brought nothing to the table. She was extremely snooty and thought she was God’s gift to the world. Literally. Her mic was always turned off and she was a diva to boot. Okay, so I may not have been the “Whitney Houston” in Kleshay but at least I could hold a note, buss a solid harmony and bring a rap or two for the occassion. I was also the friendly and personable spokesperson (surprise!!!,) and we wrote and co-produced many of our own songs from the age of 15. Naima brought nothing to the Honeyz but Drama. With a capital D. And if you want my opinion Celena was always extremely patient with her, considering she was the one carrying her ass for the ride! Even when asked to do the Big Reunion, Naima was the one who showed the most resistance which came across to me as if she expected the show not to go ahead just because she wasn’t reuniting with the Honeyz. Each to their own and her loss.
Honeyz Big Reunion ITV2
3rd line up: Heavenli, Celena & Mariama
Honeyz were and are a great band, and I think this new line up for the Big Reunion is a great one despite Heavenli and Mariama never working within the group at the same time. I must say that Mariama is as sweet as I think she came across in the episode and I loved the way she tried not to laugh too hard as she told the story of how Naima’s attempts to flirt with her man lead to a fall from grace, quite literally! I knew there was so much more she could have said, however just the thought of Naima getting a little karma was satisfactory for her.
To me though, I thought when watching it that Heavenli was very insincere when “apologising” to Celena. Did you see the daggers she was giving her in the footage of one of their videos?! That cracked me up! But I didn’t get the impression that Heavenli truly understood and was sorry for how she left Celena in the lurch back then. Neither did she even have the respect as her friend – moreover, band member – to pick up the phone and provide her with closure. Unfortunately the music industry breeds selfish, narcissistic characters. I learned this first hand from my own band. But thats a while other story.
I cringed at the way Heavenli patronisingly got up from her chair as Celena broke down crying during their reunion by saying in a silly, girlie voice “Crying’s not good! We shouldn’t cry!”. Well, it’s all Celena could do at that moment Heavenli! Don’t you get it?! Bless the ever so sweet Mariama though as she looked on with an uncomfortable smile.
As Celena poured her heart and eyes out, all Heavenli could offer was a limp hug and and a weak promise of “making it up to her”. Whatever.
I’ll be honest, from what I saw on tonight’s Big Reunion show, I’m unsure what will be next for the Honeyz. I’d love for them to get back together and record new music. More than any thing else, I’d love for my cousin Celena to have a second chance at what she loves doing so much. She’s a mega talented singer, song writer and performer and she’s not finished with it just yet.
The good news is that the Big Reunion live show this month at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, sold out in 5 minutes so they are taking the Honeyz, Liberty X, Atomic Kitten, 5ive, 911 and B*witched on an arena tour around the UK. Ker-ching!! ITV2 must be well pleased.
On the phone earlier I asked my dear cousin for an exclusive for this blog. All I can say is that that Broad is keeping me hanging!! All she said is to “keep watching, because the show is about to get more intense and juicier. There’s a big surprise in store!”.
Oh no. Please don’t bring back Naima!
Celena, I don’t know what this “juice” is but I’ll be watching… I’m hooked! And it seems that 1.1 million viewers are too.
Congratulations, my darling and well done! No matter what, you’re always a star in our family and you’re still yet to shine at your brightest. The best is just to come.
With their debut album hitting the top 100 in the iTunes chart, the Honeyz are now buzzing with sheer excitement. But what did YOU think of last night’s Big Reunion? Who was your favourite Honey and which tune was the best? And do you think Heavenli’s apology to Celena was from the heart or straight up fakery? Post your comments below.
Before I sign off I thought I’d share some photos of me and Cellie over the years. I hope she doesn’t kill me because of it, although I’ve already received a stern text! ENJOY!!!