In 2005, Diddy invited MTV’s cameras to follow him as he scoured the nation for talented young performers to be a part of an all-female pop act. Overconfident, underdeveloped divas flooded castings, assuring the hip-hop mogul they had more talent than they actually did. Yet in the midst of him “Making the Band,” Shannon Bex, a former cheerleader for the Portland Trail Blazers, blew the guy away with her background in dance and her commitment to performing, and ended up securing one of five spots in Danity Kane. Her talent had done all the talking for her.
The girl group’s first album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the summer 2006 hit “Show Stoppers.” Tour dates with Christina Aguilera followed, and their sophomore album, “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” made DK record-breakers, as they became the first female act to debut with two No. 1 albums in a row. There was trouble beneath the surface, though, and only a couple of years after Shannon and Co. came together, they fell apart. By 2009, Danity Kane was nothing but a memory, and Bex ultimately decided to leave the sinking ship behind.
Two years later, the woman Diddy praised for her professionalism in the face of chaos has a new project in the works: a coed country/R&B band called BEX. It’s certainly a change of pace from the days of “Damaged,” but the now 31-year-old Bex is bent on moving forward with her love of music, even though her first taste wasn’t as sweet as she’d hoped. Below, check out what she told Remote Control, take a walk through memory lane with the video to “Bad Girl” and make sure to check out the singer’s Twitter account to keep up with her latest successes!
Take us back to the time during which you first tried out for “Making the Band”–what was going on in your life?
My husband and I had been married a little over a year when I tried out for the band. I had just come off of the NBC show “Fame,” and though I had been signed to a recording contract, I had my first lesson of this business: Hurry up and wait. So to keep myself moving forward and busy, I went back to dancing for the Portland Trail Blazers.
I watched the first season of “Making the Band” and was hooked! When Diddy came on TV and made the announcement that he was holding more auditions, I didn’t think twice. We started with a singing audition, then dance, then singing again, and dance one more time. Within a month, I was on a plane. There was no time to be nervous–the train was moving, and I was on it!
Can you describe the competition–especially being pit against Aubrey, Aundrea and Malika of the previous season?
It took me a few seasons of the show to get used to the “process” of it all, which basically was that you knew nothing every day, all day. You could be recording, and if Diddy decided to have you jump out of a plane, then that’s what was going to happen.
As for Diddy pitting us against the other girls, I didn’t know what his plan was. Sometimes I don’t think he had a plan. That’s why we would get random visits or woken up at 5 a.m. or get thrown in a van, told what to wear but not told what we were doing. Or, we’d get rushed to an 11 p.m. studio call time, then sit in the van for two hours while things came together. There were some very stressful and chaotic days filming.
What was it like being named a member of Danity Kane?
I was thrilled and surprised. The entire competition had so many twist, turns, loops and unknown situations–anything could have happened at the finale. But as soon as my name was called, I knew the work had just started.
So, how did things progress from the seeming joy of being chosen to things falling apart at the seams?
That is a big question–the entire experience to this day feels surreal. In the eyes of the fans, it was a steady rise, but we had many battles we had to fight. I truly feel we did very well having started the whole journey as competitors. Nothing and nobody is perfect, and when the foundation is not strong, the house falls. The industry is unforgiving and very difficult to conquer, even as a soloist. I appreciate what we had and the memories we made.
The average life span of a career in this business is a fleeting one, so when DK was broken up, I knew it was time to focus on my husband, home, family and reassess what I wanted to do next. It wasn’t an easy decision to walk away, but I knew if I didn’t do it, then I wouldn’t have control over my own life and future.
On the other side of the coin, what were some of your happier memories with the girls?
Every bit of laughter seen on the show was genuine and real from every girl. Many tears, hugs, quiet long trips on the bus where everyone was in their bunks. And we would tell each other goodnight like the Waltons, like “Goodnight John Boy!” Cameras weren’t there for those times, but they happened often.
Tell us a little bit about BEX.
BEX is about finding the heart and soul of good music and creating songs that move me as a performer and dancer. It takes a country twist but doesn’t escape the current sound. Fans got to see Shannon in DK; now it’s time to show my other side!
What lessons did you learn as a member of DK, and how has it affected the way you’re approaching the industry now?
I took so many mental notes along the DK journey and learned so much. You can read books and watch behind-the-scenes documentaries, but until you are tossed into the fire, you don’t know how intense the heat can be. This entire next step is very close to home. I’m putting my finger on every single aspect and keeping control of the creative process. I always welcome wisdom, guidance and direction, but I won’t relinquish control.
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Photos: MTV, and courtesy of ShannonBex.com