Always And Forever More... The Eternal Story-
Part 2: The Power Of Three
Louise goes it alone
On 18th July 1995, fans were shocked by the news that Louise was to leave Eternal in order to persue a (since highly successful) solo career. All the girls said they were still best of friends and regularly called each other, but Louise wanted to explore a different musical direction.
The news was somewhat overshadowed by Robbie Williams leaving his band, Take That, in the same week, but that was probably no bad thing. The press even made a lame attempt at starting rumours about the two singers recording a duet!
Many people's reaction has been a somewhat ignorant "so they've kicked the white girl out". Said Kéllé in an interview with Smash Hits: "I don't see her as a white girl, she's Lu. Race and colour was never an issue with Eternal."
October 1995 saw the release of Eternal's second album, Power Of A Woman - their first real test as a threesome. How well had their music survived the loss of a member? Would it live up to the success of Always & Forever?
The good news was, yes the girls had managed to cope with the loss, and yes it did live up to expectations! Although the album didn't acheive the impossible by beating sales of Always & Forever in the UK, it did go on to become an even bigger hit internationally.
Eternal's second release was a more sophisticated album, and at the same time a brave step into the unknown. Gone were most of the strong dance beats in favour of a more laid-back soul rhythm. I Am Blessed was a superb showcase for Easther's vocal talents and there were other goodies on offer, such as a beautiful interpretation of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song", and the positive message put over by "Faith In Love".
Eternal are blessed
In December 1995, Eternal were invited to perform in front of the Pope, along with the Gipsy Kings, Gloria Gaynor and Enya. The day before they had a private audience with Pope John Paul II. According to Kéllé: "It was a real honour and we were really excited".
Meanwhile, I Am Blessed proved to be a huge Christmas hit for Eternal, dominating the airwaves throughout the festive season, and helping the album to notch up a second platinum award. Also in December our trio stole the show at the Birmingham NEC, headlining their night of the "Big Twix Mix" which among others featured D:Ream, Boyzone and the now solo Louise.
Such a good thing!
Good Thing, the third single taken from Power Of A Woman, was remixed and released at the end of February, 1996. With a funky sound and funky dance routine, it inevitably shot straight into the Top Ten.
"Good Thing" also also happened to be the title of the new tour, as the group hit the road for the first time as a three piece band. How would the routines be affected by the absence of Louise? Would Crazy be included?
Fans needn't have panicked - the girls proved that live they could really kick it. The shows went down a storm, with solo spots from Kéllé and Vernie, and yes Crazy was in the line-up with Easther covering for the now absent Louise. The critics raved and fans left with hearts soaring.
Unfortunately disaster struck and the last three nights were cancelled due to illness. Easther had been left in no doubt by her doctor - continue with the shows (London, Belfast & Dublin) and never sing again!
Fortunately Easther was able to recover in time for the group to perorm their sell-out tour of Japan later that month.
Summer '96 saw perhaps Eternal's greatest achievement yet. They were picked by Disney to sing the title track of their new animated film, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame.
This was the very first time a girl band had been used by Disney to promote a film. Disney's Patrick Wilson explained why Eternal had been chosen: "Eternal are exactly the sort of act we're looking for. They're young, beautiful and successful."
The girls themselves were ecstatic. Someday was released in August and, in another coup for Disney, featured legendary guitar player Eric Clapton. Although not chosen for the American version, which was covered by All 4 One, the single was a phenomenal success. It become the biggest ever selling Disney record, even surpassing Elton John's effort for The Lion King.
Rounded off nicely
After the phenomenal success of Someday, August saw the next single, Secrets. The fourth song taken from Power Of A Woman, it was remixed especially for the single release and featured what was perhaps the best Eternal video yet. It sailed comfortably into the Top 10, retaining Eternal's outstanding record of having all their singles debut inside the Top 20.
Eternal rounded the year off nicely with another award. This time it was the Smash Hits award for Best Dance/Soul Act, all the more special because it was voted for by readers. The trio did a show-stopping Power Of A Woman routine.
Then it was off to the studio to begin the recording of their new album...