Singer Shannon hit gold with the trendsetting, pulsating dance classic “Let the Music Play” and other similar-sounding hits in the mid-’80s that helped lay the foundation for the ’90s electronica music genre. Born Brenda Shannon Greene in 1958 in Washington, D.C., Shannon grew up in Brooklyn and attended York University, majoring in accounting and minoring in music.
At 20, she joined the New York Jazz Ensemble as a singer. While a member, she met drummer Lenny White and sang with Brownstone, which led to some recording. One single, “Let the Music Play,” was issued on NY-based dance label Emergency Records as a 12″ single with Shannon listed as the artist in fall 1983.
She was shocked at seeing her name on the record. Produced by Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa and written by Barbosa and Ed Chisolm, the track introduced a new dance sound featuring upfront heavy, staccato bass drum locked into the groove with electro-synth bass sprinkled with chiming steel drum-like synth accents. The record became a monster dance-club hit and was picked up by Mirage Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records, whose roster included dance-club favorites the System.
The million-selling “Let the Music Play” pumped its way up to number two R&B, number eight pop on Billboard’s charts in late 1983. Her debut album titled Let the Music Play was issued in February 1984 and went gold, peaking at number 32 pop in March 1984. Shannon followed that up with “Give Me Tonight” (number six R&B) and “My Heart’s Divided.”
Do You Wanna Get Away was the title of her second Mirage album, issued in May 1985. The title track single hit number 13 R&B in spring 1985. Her third album, Love Goes All the Way, with some tracks produced by Patrick Adams and Robbie Buchanan, was released on Atlantic in October 1986 with the singles “Dancin” (12″ includes three remixes by Paul Rodriguez), “Criminal” — included in the 1987 Whoopi Goldberg/Sam Elliot movie Fatal Beauty — b/w “Faces in the Crowd” and “Prove Me Right.” Other Shannon releases are It’s Got to Be Love (the title of both a CD maxi-single and an EP) on the ZYX label, the 12″s “Stop the Noise” and “Sweet Somebody” (also a Phonogram U.K. 12″) on Mirage, the single “It’s Over Love” on Logic, and Best of Shannon, a 1996 U.K. CD from Deep Beats/Sequel. Several factors probably lead to Shannon’s short-lived record career.
The closing of Emergency Records, some litigation surrounding “Let the Music Play,” the decline of dance-oriented radio stations, the loss of airtime of club-DJ remixes on mainstream stations that was the initial springboard for her success, the producers’ (over)use of the “Let the Music Play” sound on numerous artists’ records and the inevitable “Let the Music Play” sound-alike clones that surfaced due to its enormous success. Nevertheless, Shannon appeared on a 1999 segment of VH1’s Where Are They Now, vowing to return to the top of the charts; the following spring she released the album The Best Is Yet to Come