R&B trio The Honeyz released a succession of hit songs in the UK, which saw the girls on the cusp of super stardom in America but in fighting and shock exits put an end to their chart success.
With plans of forming a vocal harmony group, original band members Celena Cherry and Heavenli Roberts were joined by Naima Belkhiati. The new edition saw changes in the band’s direction.
Heavenli. “Celena and I had been working to this point, we had an ambition to go forth and be a great vocal group. It became apparent that Naima, as devastatingly beautiful as she was and very sexy, vocal wise wasn’t there on the map really. All of a sudden we were like, oh how does that work as a three part harmony with two singers.”
Celena continues, “As time went on and we were in the studio our manager came to me and said, ‘Look, I want you to sing this and I want you to sing that.’ So I naturally fell into that role because that was what I was told to do. But I think at that time it put everyone else’s nose out of joint.”
Heavenli adds, “I was kind of given the role to talk to the press, the media, Naima was the ingredient that looked very attractive. The singing, the talking and the looking good, if you look at the three of them, they are what a bands needs to go on, but whether they were in the right proportions.”
Celena admits, “I think people had the impression of The Honeyz that everywhere we went we had a line of men following us on a lead…we wish.”
The band were soon topping the charts and had signed to a major label in the US, but one member of the group was about to make a shock decision which would have devastating effects for her fellow band mates.
Calena says, “We’d signed to Def Jam in America, we were about to be huge.”
Heavenli admits, “I was away from home, under quite a lot of pressure. I didn’t want to be away and I was looking in the mirror thinking this isn’t for me, I’m not happy. We had a discussion, Celena and I, I think it was an argument about who was wearing what, something really trivial and that was the icing on the cake for me. Back on the plane to the UK and I turned round and said, ‘I’m not coming back.’
“I didn’t think of Celena, I didn’t think of Naima, I didn’t think of the management, of the record company or how much money they were ploughing into this. I have to admit I was just thinking of me in those split seconds.”
Celena reveals, “That was hard because we were at a point where we’d worked so hard to get to and we’d just got number one in Australia and we were about to do a tour, we needed her. There were no reasons, (she) wouldn’t answer phone calls, we were left hanging. We got dropped by Def Jam straight away.”
Heveanli continues, “It’s not very nice to know that you caused someone else to be distressed but it was one of life’s misfortunes.”
Celena admits, “I had so much hatred for her (Heavenli) for what she did. It’s frustrating when its not your fault, when you haven’t messed up your life, when someone else has messed up your life. You think to yourself, ‘What can I do?’ There’s nothing I can do to change it because I didn’t mess it up. I was angry.”
The duo was soon joined by singer Mariama and went on to have two top ten hits, but relationships in the band quickly became frosty.
Mariama says, “When I first met the girls it was really awkward, I was in the management office and they made me stand there and sing for these two girls. Celena was really sweet and Naima was arms folded in the corner.”
Celena adds, “All the bitchiness kept brewing and brewing and we had two top tens with Mariama, then she became unhappy.”
Mariama continues, “It got to point a where I was crying every morning on my way into work. At much as it seems like the dream job, if you are that upset going to work with people then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. I thought really long and hard and it broke my heart to think I can’t do that anymore but I think for my own sanity I needed to do that. I walked up to one of those internet cafes because they had a fax machine and I didn’t have one. I sent a fax to the management and the record label, then I telephoned Celena and I telephoned Naima just to say I’m not coming back.”
Celena reveals, “It was the news I didn’t want to hear, to me it was Heavenli all over again. Out of the blue somebody leaving the band just as we were starting to rebuild our group. I can’t take this anymore, I can’t psychically take it.”
The record label dealt the remaining duo one last lifeline, but it was one that neither were expecting.
Celena says, “A meeting was a set up, the most hostile horrible meeting you could ever think of.”
Heavenli reveals, “The doors opened and in came Celena and Naima, I could see the shock on their face. The room was filled with ice. It was apparent to me that they had no idea why I was there.”
Celena continues, “Our management company were saying, ‘Right you’re getting back together or your going to have no career.’ Well I’m not happy about that. I was so angry with Heavenli. I think it was a downward spiral from then on. If the chemistry in the group is not there then its just not going to work, full stop.”