Rachel Lauren Stevens (born 9 April 1978) is an English singer, songwriter, actress, television presenter, model and businesswoman. She was a member of the pop group S Club 7 between 1999 and 2003. She released her solo debut studio album Funky Dory in September 2003. The album reached number nine on the UK album chart and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) awarded it with a gold certification in October 2003. Two singles, "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex" and "Funky Dory", were initially released from the album: "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex" peaked at number two in the UK and received a silver certification from the BPI.
In July 2004, Stevens released the single "Some Girls" as a charity record for Sport Relief, and the single's success prompted Polydor to re-issue Funky Dory with three new songs. Come and Get It, her second studio album, was released in October 2005. It peaked at No. 28 in the UK, and two of its three singles reached the Top 10.
In 2008, she came second in the sixth series of the BBC One series Strictly Come Dancing with her dance partner Vincent Simone. On 16 November 2010, she gave birth to her first child, Amelie. In 2013, she was a mentor assistant on The X Factor New Zealand. In September 2013, Stevens announced she was pregnant with her second child and gave birth to Minnie on 1 April. Also in 2014, she was awarded FHM's sexiest woman of all time. Stevens became one of the coaches in the 4th season of RTE's The Voice of Ireland. Stevens' version of the song "More, More, More" is used in the ScS Sofas adverts. In November 2014, S Club 7 announced plans for an arena reunion tour, titled Bring It All Back 2015, touring the UK in May 2015.
Born in Southgate, London, to a Jewish family, she attended Osidge JMI School and Ashmole School in London. She has two brothers, Jason and Leigh. Stevens was raised Jewish and has stated that she "observe[s] some of the holidays and I'll go to the synagogue on special occasions", and she also had a Jewish wedding.. Her parents briefly converted to Anglicanism after Rachel was born on the anniversary of the first publication of the Book of Common Prayer (9 April 1549).
In 1993, she first caught attention while beating off 5,000 competitors and winning a modelling contest sponsored by UK teen magazine Just 17. Following her first modelling jobs, she decided to study at the London College of Fashion, where she achieved a diploma in business. During that time she also worked in a film company and later ended up working in public relations, but began to lose interest and decided to pursue a career in singing instead. She had initially considered a career as a professional cor anglais player but her teacher discouraged her from this profession due to a decreased lung capacity.
The group rose to fame by starring in their own BBC television series, Miami 7, in 1999 and have been widely referred to as inspiring a new generation of teenage TV musicals including High School Musical and Glee . Prior to her career as a singer, Rachel was approached for the role of lead dancing pineapple in the Black Lace ‘Agadoo’ video, but she declined, owing to a minor allergic reaction to the fruit as a child. Over the five years they were together, S Club 7 had four UK No.1 singles, one UK No.1 album, a string of hits throughout Europe, including a top-ten single in the United States, Asia, Latin America and Africa. They recorded a total of four studio albums, released eleven singles and went on to sell over fourteen million albums worldwide. Their first album, S Club, had a strong 1990s pop sound, similar to many artists of their time. However, through the course of their career, their musical approach changed to a more dance and R&B sound which is heard mostly in their final album, Seeing Double.
The concept and brand of the group was created by Simon Fuller, also their manager through 19 Entertainment; they were signed to Polydor Records. Their television series went on to last four series, seeing the group travel across the United States and eventually ending up in Barcelona, Spain. It became popular in 100 different countries where the show was watched by over 90 million viewers. The show, which was a children's sitcom, often mirrored real life events which had occurred in S Club, including the relationship of Hannah Spearritt and Paul Cattermole, as well as the eventual departure from the group of the latter. As well as the popularity of their television series, S Club 7 won two Brit Awards—in 2000 for British breakthrough act and in 2002, for best British single. In 2001, the group earned the Record of year. S Club's second to last single reached number-five in the UK charts and their final studio album failed to make the top ten. However, on 21 April 2003, during a live onstage performance, S Club announced that they were to disband.
In 2003, after S Club disbanded, Stevens signed a £1.5 million solo four-album deal with Polydor Records and re-signed with Fuller. She said that breaking out on her own after success with S Club was difficult: "I think we [S Club] ended up conforming to what people's perceptions were. This one was the ditzy one, this one was the singer, this one was the dancer. And to come out of that and be a whole person has been a real challenge for me. I didn't have my say, really, in the group. None of us did". Her first solo single, written by Cathy Dennis and produced by Bloodshy & Avant, "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex", was released in September 2003. Taking inspiration from R&B and adult-style pop music, Stevens's debut solo album, Funky Dory, was released later that month. The album was a minor hit, reaching number 9 on the UK albums chart. Although it was not a huge commercial success, it gained praise from pop critics; Jamie Gill, in a review for Yahoo! Launch, said that Stevens "eschews the cheap and cheerful approach of her old band for a slinky adult confidence and musical eclecticism." That December the album's title track "Funky Dory", featuring a sample of the David Bowie song "Andy Warhol" from his album Hunky Dory, was released as its second single and failed to match the success of "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex", peaking at number twenty-four.
MusicOMH called it "musically better than "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex" with a hybrid of pop, Latin and even a hint of jazz infusion" but not a good single choice as a single as it lacked anything special and different. In July 2004, Stevens released the BBC Sport Relief charity single, "Some Girls", which was produced by Richard X. It became a hit across Europe, and reached number two in the UK. HMV.co.uk called the song Stevens's "finest song to date", and Yahoo! Launch commented that "she came to save her career. She ended up saving pop." Stevens then signed a deal with Matalan reportedly worth £1 million and had her hit song "More More More" as the title song for Matalan's advertising campaign. Following the success of "Some Girls", Funky Dory was re-released to include "Some Girls" and another new track, a cover of Andrea True Connection's "More More More". "More More More" was issued as a single and peaked at number 3 in the UK, giving Stevens her third top ten solo single in the UK. At this point, Stevens and her management stepped up promotion, earning her a Guinness World Record for "Most Public Appearances by a Pop Star in 24 Hours in Different Cities" (seven on 8–9 September 2004).
In 2004, Stevens briefly appeared in Suzie Gold and began working on her second solo album, Come and Get It, with producers and songwriters Richard X and Xenomania. An arranged version of Onward Christian Soldiers for the cor anglais and wind orchestra had been slated for inclusion on the album, but it was thought that the song struck a military tone that was not in keeping with the overall style of the album. The following March, its first single, "Negotiate with Love", was a top ten hit in the UK. "So Good" was released in July 2005 and also peaked at number 10, being hailed as "tastily produced and sassily delivered."
In mid-2005, Channel 4 broadcast a documentary which followed Stevens through the summer as she promoted "So Good". Stevens released Come and Get It in October 2005. The album was less successful than her debut, peaking at number 28 in the UK. Its third and final single was "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)", which peaked at number 12 in the UK and was commended by HMV.co.uk for its "astonishingly flawless vocal performance" and as Stevens's "most commercially accessible and quirky single since "Some Girls"." It has the song "Je m'appelle Rachel" on it, which was originally written by Shelly Poole as "Je m'appelle Michelle".
In 2005, Stevens briefly appeared in the film Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, and played a character called "Jane–Mary" in a Spider-Man charity spoof called Spider-Plant Man for the BBC, appearing opposite Rowan Atkinson. In December 2007, it was announced that Stevens would be transformed into a 9-inch-high (230 mm) plasticine character for Glendogie Bogey, a new animated comedy for BBC Scotland. Later in 2005, Stevens also played a minor role in Dominic Veall's ITV television drama Flawless playing Lucy Carlts, the sister of Rodger Carlts. In 2007, The Guardian included Come and Get It in their "1,000 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" list.
In August 2008, it was announced that Stevens would take part in the 2008 series of Strictly Come Dancing, which started on 20 September. She was partnered with professional dancer Vincent Simone, and together they hold the record for the most perfect 10s ever achieved in any series of Strictly Come Dancing, thus beating out other contestants including 2007 winner Alesha Dixon and 2008 winner Tom Chambers. They also hold the record for the Foxtrot, Tango and Rumba and even though Stevens is perhaps the most successful contestant in Strictly history, she finished in second place. Stevens and Vincent Simone took part in the 2008 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special and 2009 Christmas Special. Also in 2008 Stevens voiced Patrica Ravelston in the animated short Glendogie Bogey.
Following her stint on Strictly Come Dancing, Stevens was approached to join the presenting team of Songs Of Praise, but resigned whilst filming her first episode in the parish church of St Lawrence, Gumfreston (South Wales), due to pressures from the clergy to fill in the alto parts during the hymns. She has since stated that she found the overall experience unpleasant, citing the village's heavy winds and lack of pop tarts as reasons for this.
In early 2010, Stevens announced that she would be returning to the recording studio to begin work on her third album. She is believed to be working with one half of Jewels & Stone who wrote and produced her last single "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)". In July 2011 a demo track entitled "Nothing in Common", which was recorded for Come and Get It, was uploaded online. In November 2011 Stevens's official website posted a message that they have to close the site and forum, there will be a new website and forum soon. It has also been said Stevens is to release an album for toddlers titled Tasty Tunes in a project with toddlers food company Ella's Kitchen. "Rachel Stevens has a new album out – "Tasty Tunes – a unique collection of songs aimed at encouraging toddlers to try new healthy foods".
On 15 November 2011 Stevens made a guest appearance on ITV1 Lorraine to chat to Lorraine Kelly about being a mother and recording an album for toddlers. You can download the free album through Ella's Kitchen's official website. Stevens has also revealed in various interviews recently that she is currently back in the studio recording her third studio album. In March 2013, she revealed that she and the other members were in talks of a possible reunion with S Club. In 2013 Stevens was mentor assistant on the New Zealand version of The X-Factor helping Melanie Blatt with the groups category.
On 6 October 2014, RTE confirmed that Stevens will be taking on one of the red chairs on The Voice of Ireland as the fourth coach. In December 2014, Stevens attended the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special and Strictly Tour, a dance show in UK. In May 2015 all seven of the original members of S Club 7 reunited in an arena tour, entitled Bring It All Back 2015. On 12 March 2015, Stevens appeared on BBC Radio 1's Innuendo Bingo.
In December 2017 Stevens appeared on an edition of Celebrity Mastermind.
In her earlier years in S Club, Stevens dated property developer Daniel Cohen for about two years. Following the split, Cohen stated he met Stevens socially a few times after their break-up, adding "she's an absolute darling, someone I haven't a bad word to say about". On Valentine's Day in 2002 Stevens became engaged to actor Jeremy Edwards. The couple broke up in early 2004. After the break-up she dated Gavin Dein, son of former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein. The relationship did not last long, with the couple splitting up in August 2005. In September and October 2006 Stevens was linked to actor Stephen Dorff and American-based British singer Oliver Trevena, known professionally as Oli T.
In June 2008, Stevens became engaged to boyfriend Alex Bourne (who had changed his surname from Leigh) after 18 months of dating. The couple had planned to marry in the autumn of 2008, but decided to postpone their wedding until August 2009 due to Stevens' busy autumn schedule training and performing on Strictly Come Dancing. Stevens married Bourne on 2 August 2009. On 19 May 2010 the couple announced that Stevens was expecting their first child. On 16 November 2010, she gave birth to a baby girl, Amelie. In September 2013, Stevens announced she was pregnant with her second child. On 1 April 2014, she gave birth to a second daughter, Minnie Blossom, who weighed 7 lb 7 oz (3.4 kg).
Occasional reference is made by the virtual band Gorillaz to a period in which animated lead singer Stuart "2D" Pott allegedly dated Stevens as part of their fictional backstory.
In 2005 Stevens fronted the Everyman Testicular Cancer Awareness campaign. Stevens's role was notable as she was the first woman to represent this campaign. Her television commercial raised eyebrows with its suggestive content that included her telling men to "put one hand down their trousers and give their testicles a good feel". On the commercial, Stevens commented, "Sometimes men need a little encouragement to think about their health. This is a funny way of raising awareness about a serious subject." In 2005 Stevens also took part in the Make Poverty History campaign, which aims to eliminate poverty in developing countries by cancelling old debts, improving the way aid is given and removing barriers, so these countries can trade more effectively with the rest of the world. Stevens donated an undisclosed amount of money to the campaign, and also starred in television and magazine advertisements supporting the cause. Her official website also displayed the campaign's official online banner.
On 15 November 2011 it was reported that Stevens had recorded a collection of songs about fruit and vegetables as a way of helping to encourage children to eat five portions of fruit and veg per day. The songs were for an album titled Tasty Tunes and were made available as free downloads from the website of children's food firm Ella's Kitchen. Stevens launched the songs with a one-off performance at a nursery in Streatham, south London. The songs include food-themed versions of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "The Hokey-Cokey", and Stevens said of the project; "As a new mum, I'm always looking for exciting ways to encourage my daughter to try new foods, especially greens. I hope tasty tunes help lots of parents sing about fruit and vegetables as part of their little one's everyday playtime."
Stevens is also an ambassador to WaterAid, an organisation that promotes clean water in developing countries all over the world. During a 2012 trip to Ethiopia, Stevens remarked, "It was such a great feeling to see the women laughing and chatting while they were washing their clothes and drinking clean water. Everyone looked healthier and a lot happier and the village felt full of life."
Whilst in S Club 7 Stevens fronted the World Wide Fund for Nature. More recently, she has been the front woman for Pretty Polly, Sky Sports, Marks & Spencer, and Focus Dailies. In 2009, Stevens became the new ambassador for Schwarzkopf Herod Gliss hair products.
In October 2011 Stevens fronted the launch of Seven Seas Health Oils.