HERALDTRIBUTE.COM - THE COLORS OF CHRISTMAS 2001

Sheena Easton makes joyful noise in concert

By JEFF BELL
SARASOTA -- Sheena Easton has been touched by an angel. 

For the past two years, the performer has been selling cherubic figurines on the QVC Shopping Network, and come Tuesday, she'll sing about them -- as one-fourth of the "Colors of Christmas" concert tour, alongside Peabo Bryson, Michael McDonald and Oleta Adams.

For adults who came of age in the 1980s, Easton's segue to seasonal songs and inspirational imagery may raise eyebrows.

After all, this is the singer who, only a few years after winning the 1981 Best New Artist Grammy Award for the frisky ditty "Morning Train (9 to 5)" and the Bond ballad "For Your Eyes Only," tarted up her wholesome-if-sexy image with such salacious hits as "Strut," "The Lover In Me" and the Prince-penned "Sugar Walls."

She also bared her taut torso in a series of health-club ads, and played Tonsil Twister with Don Johnson as his "Miami Vice" wife.

But at age 42, a more matronly Easton prevails -- one who earns a lucrative living from her custom-designed "Angel's Touch" collection of seraphic sculptures, Las Vegas engagements, Broadway gigs ("Grease," "Man of La Mancha"), cartoon voiceovers (the family-friendly film "All Dogs Go To Heaven 2").

After more than a decade of dancing to an ever-changing Top 40 beat, the single mother of two adopted children -- Jake, 7, and Skylar, 5 -- says she's content to follow the music of her heart.

"At this point, I'm not looking to compete in the commercial market," Easton says, her Scottish brogue softened by two decades of stateside living. "There's just no way; not if it meant that I had to get on the promotional bandwagon and spend my life chasing that. I did that for 15 years, and I deliberately got away from it so I could have a normal life."

That life, which she and her children divide between Vegas and Los Angeles, includes cutting the occasional CD for overseas consumption (last year's "Fabulous" offered a Euro-disco spin on '70s dance hits). But live performances, such as her recent summer show at the Las Vegas Hilton and the annual "Colors" tour, are her bread and butter.

"What I like about 'Colors of Christmas' is that you get to do duets with artists you normally don't work with in a live situation," Easton says of the concert, which will feature some of her hits (probably not 'Sugar Walls,' though) in addition to seasonal material.

"The audiences are always very warm, very receptive. I think they react to the feelings on stage between the artists, because for us, it's such a blast to do."

On stage, she may bear tidings of good cheer, but despite two decades in the music industry, Easton has yet to record a holiday disc.

"It doesn't make us lose our singing license if we don't do one," she says, chuckling. "I suppose I'll do a Christmas album eventually. Right now, there's so much going on. I finish 'Colors of Christmas' Dec. 24 and start rehearsals for Vegas again on Jan. 25, and that'll take me through next year.

"So I'm enjoying five weeks -- and I've counted them, five weeks -- of doing nothing but being a mom and getting my Christmas shopping done."

Sometime during the new year, she may also finish her pet project, a children's book/CD, and walk down the aisle for marriage No. 4 to her longtime fiancÚ, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon (who, she jokes in her live shows, will perform all the free liposuction needed to return her backside to Britney-level form).

"I have the life of Riley," Easton says. "I take my kids to school, do a bit of work in the afternoon, pick my kids up, microwave a nutritious meal, hang out with my kids, and go to work for a couple of hours.

"I get to do what I love, but I'm not sacrificing my biggest love -- and that's my kids."

Touched by an angel?

Make that two angels …

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