Long before she was making records, Sheena Easton was listening to them.
"I absolutely helped myself to my big brothers' and big sisters' collections," Easton said, as she recalled the education she received at the family's turntable while growing up in Scotland. "We were a family that loved music."
Although she was not conscious of it at the time, Easton, who is the youngest of six children, said her siblings' diverse tastes helped her to develop an appreciation for all types of music. "It did serve me well," she said, during a recent telephone interview.
Easton, who rose to fame in the early '80s, remains the only recording artist to score Top-10 singles on the five major U.S. Billboard singles charts, including pop, country, dance, adult contemporary and R&B. It was a feat she accomplished amid recording multiple hits in the United States and the U.K., performing popular duets with Kenny Rogers and Prince, and lending her voice to a James Bond movie theme song, "For Your Eyes Only," which also became a Top-10 U.S. hit.
Easton, 54, who has been living in Las Vegas for about 13 years, continues to perform. However, these days, she said she prefers a quieter pace to the whirlwind she found herself earlier in her career. She still travels to venues around the world, but keeps her appearances to one or two weekends a month. It affords her time with her two teenage children and allows her to savor her appearances.
"At this point, I do it because I love to do it," she said.
Easton will be making just such a stop in Fairfield on Friday, Feb. 14, when she performs at the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts at Sacred Heart University. Given a body of work that includes such hits as "Morning Train (Nine to Five)," "Strut" and "The Lover in Me," Easton said she expects to perform the songs people know and love.
"But I will also do some of the songs that influenced me when I was coming up (in my career) and had an impact on me personally while I was growing up."
Easton's career stretches back to the late 1970s when she was attending the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama on scholarship. She also was performing with the band Something Else, at local night spots and weekend gigs.
"It was a wedding band, you know, we would sing in local bars and nightclubs," she said.
She said the gigs proved to be their own learning experience, as there was "no such thing as a rehearsal." The group quickly learned the hits of the day and were prepared to perform them, sometimes in just a couple days time.
"It taught me to learn on my feet ... and to focus on the music, not just yourself," she said.
However, it was ultimately an appearance on the BBC show "The Big Time: Pop Singer," that would launch Easton's career. After it aired in 1980, two of her singles, "Modern Girl" and "9 to 5" (which would become "Morning Train" in the U.S.) got into the U.K. Top 10, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Easton, a Grammy winner who has sold millions of records worldwide, last released an album, "Fabulous," in 2001. She said she occasionally thinks about recording new material.
"But I wouldn't be looking to put an album out in the pop market," she said, adding that she would likely explore the classics or standards, something she did in 1993 with "No Strings."
For now, she said she is simply enjoying a schedule that affords plenty of time for fans, family and future projects.
"I'm not out to promote a new album ... which is what I did way back when I started," she said. "Now, I work when I want to work, and that's the best kind of work."