My favourite bad of all time, Eternal are the meta girl band of the 90s who set the path for every girl band after them. Formed in 1992, Easther Bennett and her sister Vernie were first matched with Louise Nurding, who then brought in her school mate Kelle Bryan. A year later they became an international success and sold around 10 million records world wide. Yes, that’s right, even the Spice Girls had to audition for their role in the band by learning a routine to Eternal’s Just A Step From Heaven
They had a No.1 hit with I Wanna Be The Only One, had 15 UK Top 40 hits (12 of which were Top 10) and spent 94 weeks in the UK Top 40. Their debut single Stay reached No.4 in the UK Top.40, sold 220,000 copies in the US and went GOLD in Australia. Their debut album Always & Forever sold 1.2 million copies in the UK achieving 4 x PLATINUM status, got them voted Best Group at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party (over Take That), got them 4 Brit Award Nominations and broke records by becoming the first album by a UK girl band to sell a million copies. In 1997 it was recorded that Always & Forever had sold more than 4 million copies world wide.
Their debut single Stay was a massive hit in the US, hitting No.19 in the Billboard Hot 100, selling 220,000 copies and at the time they were the first UK girl band to break America. It’s still a classic today and features on many 90s compilations. Louise included this song on her setlist for her recent Heavy Love tour and it went down a treat with her fan following.
Save Our Love was their second single, offering more of a poppier vibe to appeal to the masses, entering the UK Top 40 at No.12, then climbing to No.8 the following week. This single had a cassette only it’s B-side, long lost favourite Hey Baby which I haven’t heard in years because I don’t own a cassette player anymore!
Just A Step From Heaven was another classic and fan favourite, with the video featuring a massive dance routine. This has got to be one of my all time faveourite videos.
So Good just missing out on the Top 10 in the UK chart, hitting No.13, but it performed better in Ireland, hitting No.1!. The video was filmed in New York’s famous Time Square. I loved this TOTP performance with the written background. The cd single contained two new B-sides: Loving You and my favourite B-side of theirs: Aint No How I’m Stepping.
Oh Baby I… was single number four, hitting No.4, spending ten weeks in the UK Top 40, going on to being certified silver status, selling over 200,000 copies. What an achievement and what a song. Such a beautiful ballad.
Crazy was the sixth and final single from Always & Forever, but never had a promotional video, which was very odd for those days. It has the festive treatment upon a December release, being an EP of Something Inside So Strong, His Eye Is On The Sparrow and a new elongated version of Amazing Grace. This EP is something truly special, giving all four members a chance to shine for the first time, and is much loved amongst their fanbase.
After a very successful, record breaking debut album and a string of hit singles, changes were afoot…
power of a woman
With Louise’s decision to leave the band and pursue a solo career, Eternal #2 returned to the charts with the massive summer hit Power of a Woman. This brought a more feminine look and bucket loads of Sass, and a mature, pop sound. The video was another corker, celebrating their new look. It’s my personal opinion that this was the best version of the band. As much as I truly love the debut album, I feel that they were better as a three piece and the music became stronger with each album. The single reached No.5 in the UK Top 40 and was a massive hit in Australia, reaching gold status, selling over 35,000 copies.
I Am Blessed is a timeless ballad that I think gets more beautiful with every listen. It screams Christmas to me and is featured on my personal Christmas playlist. I have such a fond memory of them being on Big Breakfast on Christmas Morning and Mum and I were singing along as we peeled the sprouts! This song peaked at No.7, once again achieving them silver status, selling over 200,000 copies.
Eternal also had the honour of being invited to the Vatican in Rome to perform this song in front of Pope John Paul II.
Good Thing is an RnB stomper with a little nod back to their original style on Always & Forever. Love this one, and the many TV performances of it, as they hit the promo heavy for this track. Lush video too.
Who Are You was released as a promotion single in Japan only, did not have a video produced, but was used in a Toyota commercial, giving them a No.1 hit in Japan.
Someday was recorder for the soundtrack of the Disney movie The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. The song was used to promote the movie during it’s cinematic release and Eternal were chosen for the song, also featuring Eric Clapton on guitar, to be released in England and Europe. Now, if Disney come knocking on your door, you know you’ve made it. This was a massive opportunity for them. The single was given B-side treatment and a chance for them to record a version of their favourite Disney songs: Kelle going for When You Wish Upon A Star and Vernie going for a funky version of A Whole New World.
Secrets was the fifth and final single from Power Of A Woman. Once a gain a Christmas single giving a touch of festive sparkle and very generous B-side add ons with new tracks on both discs. A fabulous cover of Carole King‘s I Feel The Earth Move which honestly is so good it would have been brilliant as a single, live versions of Kelle’s Black Cat and Vernie’s Still In Love from the Good Thing Tour, and new remixes of album tracks Who Are You and Redemption Song. The single went in at No.9, giving them another Top 10 hit.
before the rain
Don’t You Love Me was the lead single from their third album Before the Rain. This is definitely one of my all time favourites. With a more ‘grittier’ sound it gave them their highest chart position at that time, debuting in the UK Top 40 at No.3, their highest chart performance so far. Love. This. Video. B-sides for this single were very strong too: Kelle’s I’ll take A Pass On Love is brilliant, and This Life’s Not For Me, duet with Easther and Vernie was really good too.
I Wanna Be The Only One, duet with long time collaborator Bebe Winans, gave Eternal their first and only No.1. It was a massive summer hit, and became the third most played song on the radio by a British act in 1997. It also scored them a Mobo award and a Capital FM award for best single, and went platinum in the UK. Funnily enough, despite it’s success, it is my least favourite of their singles. B-sides were great too giving Kelle and Vernie another chance to shine: Kelle’s Show Me is so good I played it non stop at the time, and Vernie’s A Friend Is A Friend giving a nice soulful vibe.
Angel of Mine was the lead single for their greatest hits album, and would end up being their final single as a three piece. Written by American producer Rhett Lawrence the song was recorded by Eternal for the British and European market, and Monica for America. It was a big hit. No.4 in the UK Top 40, reaching silver status, selling over 200,000 copies.
The second single It Might As Well Be Me was scrapped last minute from release (one of pop’s all time disasters as this is quite possibly their most beautiful song of all time IMHO). This performance is just beautiful.
Its has been documented that after ‘dialing in’ her vocals over the phone for Angel of Mine, and her reluctance to travel to America to record their much anticipated 4th studio album, Kelle was fired from the band via fax. Ouch.
What’cha Gonna Do was Eternal #3s first and only single from their self titled 4th studio album and ended up being their very last UK single. This just makes me so sad. This song, the whole album is just so damn good. RnB at its very best. What’cha Gonna Do was so slick and so ‘of it’s time’ it should have been a massive hit, but we slept on it. The album, Eternal, features some of their very best work. Your Love Makes Me Weak is one of my all time favourites. It’s just so good, with a slick, sophisticated, jazzy element that was screaming out to be a single. I could see the video with the two of them on stage in a jazz club, dressed to the nines! Free To Live is such a beautiful track, with Vernie really shining. Sensual Man delivers the funkiest thing they ever laid down and If She Breaks Your Heart, which was meant to be released as a single, even had a tv performance on Children in Need if I remember rightly, is simply stunning. They worked with the top US producers behind Destiny’s Child to produce one of my favourite albums of all time, but it flopped. The bad press from the break up and some ‘frosty’ interviews during promotion meant that it was over for Eternal. It literally breaks my heart.
But 15 years later, there was a little light at the end of the tunnel…
the big reunion
In 2014 Eternal Headlined the Big Reunion TV Show and hashed it all out for the public to see. Fantasic coverage of the 3 of them sat in a restaurant talking amicably about what happened, what went wrong, and long deserved apologies happend on both sides, and all was right with the world again!
The Hamersmith Apollo show was everything. Seriously one of the best nights of my life, as I thought it would never happen, despite the fact I was sufferring with a seriously bad back! My friend Barry and I even had 2 seconds of fame, being caught on camera dancing to Power Of A Woman!
The fantastic reunion even granted them a sell out performance at London club G.A.Y, a gig at Cardiff Pride and a Butlins gig, then it was all over once again.
Now Kelle is a regular on the Loose Women panel and is currently getting lots of coverage in Hollyoaks. She is also a constant on social media. Vernie has had a stint in Panto and is quite intermittent on social media but at least we get to see what she’s up to. Easther very rarely comes up for air, which is such a shame, but is on twitter. I honestly think she is one of the best vocalists of all time. Her voice is home to me. If I had one wish, it would be for her to record another album, be it a solo outing or a fifth Eternal album. There is some buzz around a reunion for the original four members due to Louise performing the classic hits on her Heavy Love Tour, which would just be amazing. So… Maybe there is hope… I will ALWAYS have hope!
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