Sabrina Washington, the stunning lead singer of Mis-Teeq, noughties female R&B group, has kept a low profile these last few years, but with plans to release her latest album and a new direction as an entrepreneur, with the launch of her homeware brand, we’ll no doubt be seeing more of her in the near future. We recently chatted to her about all of this and what it was really like to be in Mis-Teeq.
In the autumn of 2001, Sabrina Washington, Alesha Dixon and Su-Elise Nash blitzed on to the UK music scene with their debut album, Lickin’ on Both Sides. Chart success soon followed with the album peaking at number three in the UK Albums Chart and a string of hits including Scandalous and the ever fresh Why. The 40-year-old singer remembers that era fondly. She said: “That song was our first foot into the industry, and it was just everywhere, it was amazing. We loved the attention, going out and doing all the shows, it was an amazing time for us.”
Readers of a particular age will remember the major buzz surrounding that song. The accompanying video and different Garage mixes highlighted the individuality and personalities of the trio. Each of the ladies had a distinct look and sound that was refreshing to see back then. Sabrina said: “Our image just naturally evolved because we were never expected to wear exactly the same things. Each of us had our own different styles, you know, we were all individual women that wanted to do our own thing or style ourselves into the way that we wanted to.”
“I would say don’t be afraid to stand out and don’t be afraid of the journey. No journey is easy. If you want anything for yourself, usually it never comes easily, you always have to put in the hard work, but don’t give up.”
In the age where record companies were so demanding and bands so manufactured, it’s refreshing to hear that the ladies had so much control over their image and material, even back then. Sabrina continued, “We had a lot of control, because at the end of the day, we were the ones that were on the stage and having to perform, so we wanted to make sure that our music was us. Even when we went into the studio, there were songs that we loved and songs that we didn’t love, but at the end of the day, it was us and that was the main thing. As a group, you have to try and find that balance between everyone and then it’s like, ‘OK, cool, this is our sound, this is what we do’ and then everyone puts their little sprinkle together to make it amazing.”
For many of us at the time, representation on the TV screen was few and far between so it was particularly powerful to see the strong imagery of the stunning trio on our screens. Particularly poignant was the fact that Sabrina, the one with the darkest skin tone was the lead. Was she aware of the impact this had on young black women?
“Being the darker girl in the group, and the lead singer as well, I wanted to be an influence, to say “Yes, I am dark-skinned and it’s okay to lead in what God gave you. You know? Because when I was younger, I always had to look to America all the time for influences and that’s where I would be able to say, ‘OK, cool, they look like me’, I didn’t find many here.”
In spite of the fact that Sabrina said she is “In touch with the other members of the group” and Alesha’s announcement last year during an interview on ITV’s Lorraine that the group would be reuniting, Sabrina is working on a new album. Understandably vague about the details, the album, to be released this year, will catch influences from old soul, old R&B and Jazz.
“My new material is a mix of all the stuff that I’ve grown up with. What I like about today’s music is that you don’t have to stick to one genre and say, ‘This is me’. My EP is going to be a mix of the things that I grew up with and the things that influence me and obviously my experiences up until now. I’ve grown up within a musical family, so I like a bit of reggae, soul, Motown, as well as pop, and a bit of jazz, everything really, so you’re going to get a mix of all of those.”
Things have changed quite a bit, musically since she was last on the scene, who are the acts that she’s currently feeling? “I like people that go forth and speak their truth. I love how this generation of musicians are just talking exactly how they feel, and it’s certainly resonating with the younger generation.”
Speaking to Sabrina, it’s clear that she is a woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid of hard work. There is a recognition that it’s important to follow your dreams and passions and a little-known passion of Sabrina’s is home decorating. She is set to launch Home By Sabrina Washington, her luxury interior decorating brand.
“I know I’m a singer but I’m a creative because there are other things that I do too. Interior decorating has always been such a huge factor for me, I think I was not even twenty when I first decided to do my bedroom and my parents went on holiday and by the time they came back, my bedroom was completely redecorated! The premise of Home by Sabrina Washington is that I believe that your bedroom is the place where dreams are made, so it has to have everything you love in one space, that helps you and makes you feel like it is your calm place.”
She is rightly proud of what she has achieved and has not collaborated with anyone on the project.
She said: “It’s been such a happy experience for me, because I have just recently started out online after a lot of research and going to different places to find the products that I like. I believe in quality not quantity and I want things that bring a smile to people’s faces and bring their energy up. So, it’s just been a really, really pleasurable experience when people come back and say, ‘you know, I got that candle you sent me, it brought me so much luck’, things like that really brings a smile to my face.”
One of OUR passions is championing the entrepreneurial women. In spite of the fact that many of us are sitting on a great business idea, we often stifle the ambition to start up a business, often for very good reasons. Sabrina decided to start her business relatively recently, what would she say to a woman who has an idea but is scared to leap?
“I would say don’t be afraid to stand out and don’t be afraid of the journey. No journey is easy. If you want anything for yourself, usually it never comes easily, you always have to put in the hard work, but don’t give up. Remember that it’s your idea and remember that it’s your work behind it and as long as you always keep the energy and keep positive, it will flourish because if you put good energy behind something, it usually comes back.”
Like many of us, life is certainly busy for Sabrina, how does she cope with the very familiar feelings of overwhelm that so many us experience?
“You just have to take some time for yourself. Sometimes you have to be still in your thoughts and just give your whole body and your whole energy some time to kind of gather your thoughts and remember yourself. People don’t remember themselves and what they need. Personally, I like to light candles, read a book or read my bible to just calm myself and get me into a stage of comfort.”
This woman’s journey has certainly not been ‘Scandalous’. We’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Ms Washington.
Home by Sabrina Washington will soon be available online.