They were about to hit the big time in the United States but 90s girl group The Honeyz were left shaken when infighting and rivalry put an end to their chart success.
The members of the band – Celena Cherry, Heavenli Roberts and Naima Belkhiati – soon began to lose focus as their management attempted to assign different roles within the group.
On ITV show The Big reunion, Celena says: “As time went on and we were in the studio our manager came to me and said, ‘Look, I want you to sing this and I want you to sing that.’ So I naturally fell into that role because that was what I was told to do. But I think at that time it put everyone else’s nose out of joint.”
Heavenli adds: “I was kind of given the role to talk to the press, the media, Naima was the ingredient that looked very attractive. The singing, the talking and the looking good, if you look at the three of them, they are what a bands needs to go on, but whether they were in the right proportions.”
Celena concludes: “I think people had the impression of The Honeyz that everywhere we went we had a line of men following us on a lead…we wish.”
And tensions within the threesome rose at a critical level – soon after the girls had singed to American record label Def Jam.
Celena says: “We’d signed to Def Jam in America, we were about to be huge.”
However, behind the scenes, Heavenli had different thoughts and was on the very of walking out of the band.
She says: “I was away from home, under quite a lot of pressure. I didn’t want to be away and I was looking in the mirror thinking this isn’t for me, I’m not happy. We had a discussion, Celena and I, I think it was an argument about who was wearing what, something really trivial and that was the icing on the cake for me.
“Back on the plane to the UK and I turned round and said, ‘I’m not coming back.’ I didn’t think of Celena, I didn’t think of Naima, I didn’t think of the management, of the record company or how much money they were ploughing into this. I have to admit I was just thinking of me in those split seconds.”
Celena continues: “That was hard because we were at a point where we’d worked so hard to get to and we’d just got number one in Australia and we were about to do a tour, we needed her. There were no reasons, (she) wouldn’t answer phone calls, we were left hanging. We got dropped by Def Jam straight away.”
Heavenli adds: “It’s not very nice to know that you caused someone else to be distressed but it was one of life’s misfortunes.”
Celena admits, “I had so much hatred for her (Heavenli) for what she did. It’s frustrating when its not your fault, when you haven’t messed up your life, when someone else has messed up your life. You think to yourself, ‘What can I do?’ There’s nothing I can do to change it because I didn’t mess it up. I was angry.”
Heavenli soon left the band and replacement Mariama joined the band as a replacement.
However, the deep seated tensions between the remaining two members never vanished completely and the girls soon began fighting again creating unhappiness within the group.
On joining the band, Mariama says: “When I first met the girls it was really awkward, I was in the management office and they made me stand there and sing for these two girls. Celena was really sweet and Naima was arms folded in the corner.”
Celena adds: “All the bitchiness kept brewing and brewing and we had two top tens with Mariama, then she became unhappy.”
Mariama concludezs: “It got to point a where I was crying every morning on my way into work. At much as it seems like the dream job, if you are that upset going to work with people then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. I thought really long and hard and it broke my heart to think I can’t do that anymore but I think for my own sanity I needed to do that.
“I walked up to one of those internet cafes because they had a fax machine and I didn’t have one. I sent a fax to the management and the record label, then I telephoned Celena and I telephoned Naima just to say I’m not coming back.”
The management and the record soon teamed up in a bid to get Celena and Naima to work with Heavenli again and offered them an ultimatum – they either got back together or faced their record deal being axed.
Celena says: “A meeting was a set up, the most hostile horrible meeting you could ever think of.”
Celena continues: “Our management company were saying, ‘Right you’re getting back together or your going to have no career.’”
The Big Reunion, which sees a number of popular 90s band reunite for a massive arena gig, continues on Thursday at 9pm on ITV2.