Be young, be foolish, be happy, is what Sonia Evans once said. 30+ years on, we still can’t forget you
Lancashire born Sonia Evans (b.1971) really wanted to be a pop star. So she went to the most successful production team around in the late 1980’s, Stock Aitken Waterman, to put her on the stage and in the charts. This they duly did and in June 1989, aged 18 years old, Sonia released her debut single, “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You”. S/A/W were already enjoying their most successful year yet with two number ones each coming from Kylie and Jason Donovan as well as smash hits from Donna Summer and Sinitta. Now their attentions turned to this bubbly, red-haired lass from ‘up north’ and after an appearance on Pete Waterman’s Hit Man and Her TV show, “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You” blasted its way up the singles chart all the way to number one.
There it stayed for two weeks, only to be knocked off by a certain bunny rabbit. “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You” was also a big chart hit across Europe and ‘down under’ and even made the top ten on the US dance chart. And so Sonia was the next big thing and Stock Aitken Waterman were music dynamite. But just as expectations for a British Kylie began, Sonia’s follow up was sadly lacklustre. 1989 was a year of two halves and one like no other before or since. The second half of 1989 saw a complete change in music tastes and styles as out went the old decade and incoming was a new, slightly unsettling era of music, one which was rave based and indie based. While PWL artists had dominated in the first six months of the year, they struggled in the second half. Sonia released “Can’t Forget You” in September but it could only claw its way to No.17 in the UK and disappeared quickly soon after.
More successful, however, was her third single, “Listen To Your Heart”, released in mid-December, normally a very competitive time and a month of Christmas singles, ballads and charity songs. Sonia actually had two songs in the chart at the very end of 1989. She was a vocalist on the second “Do They Know It’s Christmas?“, also produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, which would be the year’s festive number one, while “Listen To Your Heart”, with a much harder-edged dance sound to it, merely plodded its way up the top 40 over the course of five weeks to eventually rest at No.10 as 1989 turned into 1990. The song, in many ways, was an indication that Stock Aitken Waterman themselves were all too aware of what they had to do in order to keep achieving chart hits and “Listen To Your Heart” would become the benchmark for the new songs the team would cook up in the coming months. Sonia released her debut album, “Everybody Knows”, soon after, which would peak at No.7 in the UK and receive a Gold certification for sales of 100,000.
A fourth single, “Counting Every Minute”, followed in the Spring and this too had a noticeable change in sound to her first two releases. The song made No.16, while only a few weeks later, Sonia was at No.14 with Stock Aitken Waterman produced trio, Big Fun for their collaboration, “You’ve Got A Friend”, in aid of the charity, Childline. Sonia and Stock Aitken Waterman kept going and in June released a fifth and ultimately final single from the album, this time a cover of Skeeter Davis’ 1962 hit, “End Of The World“, which Sonia turned in a very credible vocal as well as a mature production from Mike, Matt and Peter, which saw the song equal the originals chart position of No.18. But Sonia was soon off. After just one album, she decided her next would be with other writers and a new label. Risky but necessary. She returned in the late Spring of 1991 with “Only Fools (Never Fall In Love)”. The song put her back in the top ten for the first time in over a year and both she and her new label must have breathed a sigh of relief. With most of her former PWL pals now either missing the mark completely or absent without leave, Sonia was still capable of making the right moves.
Her upcoming, self-titled, second album, featured two cover versions and these formed the next two singles. “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” was originally recorded by The Tams in 1968. They had taken the song to No.32 in the UK in 1970, while Sonia took hers to No.22 in early September 1991. More successful was her version of The Real Thing’s classic 1976 chart topper, “You To Me Are Everything“, and as with “End Of The World”, Sonia delivered yet another solid cover, worthy of standing up to the original in all aspects. The album’s third single went to No.13 in the UK, while the album, “Sonia”, was not the commercial success her debut had been, sixteen months earlier. She called it a day with the album soon after while her only recording in 1992, another cover, this time Heatwave’s 1977 smash “Boogie Nights”, just scrapped into the top thirty of the singles chart, her lowest yet. Ever striving to keep her name up in lights, Sonia would take her career onwards and in 1993, she surprised everyone when she was chosen to perform the UK entry to that year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Singing “Better The Devil You Know” – not the Kylie classic – Sonia took Brian Teasdale and Dean Collinson’s track to Ireland and finished second to…the host country once again! The single reached No.15 on the top 40, Sonia’s highest placed for nearly two years. Featuring “Boogie Nights”, Sonia released her third studio album, “Better The Devil You Know”, at the end of May 1993 but that was as far as this era went, with no more singles to follow. Sonia teamed up with the TV show, Gladiators, for the single “We’ve Got The Power” later that year and recorded her version of Olivia Newton-John’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You” the following year, but both missed the top 40. Sonia now left the music industry as she turned to stage performing and her private life in the second half of the 1990’s. She would reappear again in 2006, now aged 35, Sonia released her first greatest hits album and began to show up on Eurovision events as well as 80’s TV shows. She returned to the studio in 2009 to record “Fool For Love”, her first single for fourteen years.
Sonia has since rediscovered her popularity and fanbase at 80’s festivals across the UK and turns up on a regular basis to please the masses with “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You” and other chart hits. In 2018, she signed a new deal with Energise Records and released three singles with them, “Dancin’ In the Driver’s Seat”, “Your Heart Or Mine?” and the euphoric “A Night That’s Never-Ending” (a personal favourite). It seems we just can’t forget this girl just yet. We are counting every single minute to her next move…
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