Adeva

The look, the voice, the haircut is back. However it seems the lady who was born plain Pat Daniels is is revealing a more sensitive side. John McCready investigates

SHE WILL still wear those cycling shorts. The ones that made you consider reincarnation and the frightening possibility of coming back as a walnut. And the Adeva look — that face that makes you wonder what you could have done wrong — will still be used on photographers and over-sexed males who presume too much, but this woman is changing. Not so much that she will become a simpering Whitney overnight. Just enough so that people don’t get the wrong impression. So people don’t take a hyper successful marketing campaign at face value. So people don’t really believe that Adeva could go ten rounds with Grace Jones and still have the energy to take on half a dozen men after midnight. Pat Daniels is starting to show through but that’s OK. It’s all part of a plan being devised to keep Adeva alive. And it’s OK because Pat Daniels turns out to be just as compulsive as the fist shaking six footer who gave us that cautionary ‘Warning’.

“Some things bothered me last time round. Everybody said I was trying to be like Grace Jones. The truth is I was just trying to be me. There are a lot of ordinary black women who look just like me. It’s just that you don’t always see them on television. But the aggressiveness was all part of that image too. This time I’m moving away from the old Adeva, the woman that might strap you down and tie you up. That’s all part of the stage show, it’s still part of me but I want to show the other side of my character too. I have my quiet moments. I cry and I do have feelings. I’m going to be just a little softer. Occasionally.”

She makes it clear how ever that nobody should get the wrong impression. Pat Daniels and Adeva go hand in hand. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that sensitive Pat Daniels is stupid.

“Last night I went out to a club. I wore a backless dress. A guy who I didn’t know came up behind me and started rubbing my back. I turned around slowly and said to him, ‘That was a mistake, right?’. He just laughed a little nervously. It didn’t seem like he was getting the message. So I gave him the look. You know. The Adeva look.”

As I wonder if in an effort to relay this scene perfectly I should return from New Jersey with an article in my head which begins with the headline Adeva Goes Soft, she turns her head away from me like an impressionist looking for the right beard in an imaginary box. When she turns again to face me her features are set cold. Her eyes pierce holes in me. I’m just about to explain to her that sat at the opposite side of a table in Smack Productions’ New Jersey offices, I couldn’t possibly have touched her back when she returns to her tale. “I said to him, ‘Don’t ever do that to me again. You don’t know me. You know of me but you don’t know me.’ He realised then that I was serious. He said, ‘Look, I’m sorry. Don’t look at me like that, you scared me’. I said, I can do more than scare you…”

Earlier in the day I had talked to Michael Cameron and Goodie of Smack Productions. They had just seen a new photo session Adeva did in London. The pictures are less harsh. This had something to do with the fact that Adeva had fallen for the photographer and was openly trying to cop for him. “Oh, he was gorgeous,” she tells me later. There are few boxing motifs. She looks beautiful I say, like she doesn’t want to smack you in the face anymore. “Oh, she will smack you in the face, believe me,” says Michael. “But there’s another side to her. She has a heart, she falls in love, she cries. But if she has to she will smack you in the face.” Goodie relates that when they first met Pat Daniels, Adeva had yet to surface. “She was beautiful, a shy, polite person who just had this burning desire to sing. It was almost like it could never happen. And there was so much about her that was so different. Someone with this kind of physique, with short hair, with a really dark complexion, a real black woman, would inevitably find it hard — there are still a lot of barriers and prejudices to deal with. But these things were compelling to us. Together with Pat we developed the idea of Adeva.”

Michael says it’s hard to assess just how much Pat has taken on the character. “Pat Daniels is strong and very sweet too. But she’s not always as confident as Adeva.”

But hold on a second. What happened to the music?

The image is so strong and the commendably confrontational marketing of Adeva has been so persuasive that it’s easy to race through a piece about her without talking much about the music. Adeva is truly a star. Whether we really need stars is a subject for discussion elsewhere. The fact remains that when she walks into the room you look up. This fact has little to do with her record sales. Sales in Europe have effortlessly overshadowed those in the US but this really doesn’t enter into it. Adeva could sing the entire Bay City Rollers catalogue and she would still shine like a laser in a room full of ten bob torches. She shouts louder than anyone, she is taller than most, and she is not afraid to talk about things that others feel are too personal. Michael talks about her breaking down and crying in the studio. She has also done this during the course of an interview. Adeva can sing just about anything. We’re all listening anyway. But just in case you think music still matters in this great Enterprise Allowance Scheme we call the music industry, Adeva can sing. She is not yet ready to scale the heights of her ‘idol’ Anita Baker, but she is already aware of her limitations and together with Michael and Goodie cuts her musical cloth accordingly. Still, nobody knew what she looked like when ‘Respect’ first took New York and then the UK by storm. The record survived simply because it sounded so good. Nobody seemed to notice it was a cover of the Aretha classic. This, together with a previous record, ‘In And Out Of My Life’, placed Adeva perfectly for a British dance audience at the time going through a temporary fascination with New York ‘garage’. Michael Cameron is glad of the attention but would prefer a little more attention to detail. “What we do is not garage music. We’re still trying to break the ties that this label has put on us. I don’t acknowledge any limitations on what we do. I think with Adeva we express something which is more than just dance music from New Jersey. We’re writing songs here, songs about love and relationships, songs that other women can relate to. It’s almost like an update on the music Millie Jackson made with albums like Caught Up.”

Paris is eight years old. Paris is Pat Daniels’ son. He lets everyone know he is around as most eight year old boys do. He keeps going out of one door and coming in another. He does it once too often and gets the Adeva stare and a sharp warning. He disappears from the room quietly. She answers my questions with extreme honesty. This is immediately apparent.

Despite not getting in until seven this morning she exudes enough energy to keep the streets lit in an average city. She speeds through the questions until you have nothing left to ask her. Very unnerving.

Do you worry about being too personal?

“We all deal with relationships. In that sense these things are not personal, they’re universal.”

Do you worry what people think?

“People can think what they like. As long as they’re not in my house or in bed with me.”

Do you have any secrets?

“Yes. I knit and crochet.” She laughs and half of New Jersey is demolished.

Are you an aggressive person?

“Sometimes. But I don’t hit out. I just scream or walk away. But it takes a lot to get me upset. I have to let my anger out. If I don’t I take it out on people I care about. But I don’t get upset without reason. If you treat me respectfully then you’ll be OK. I don’t want to be bigger than you or smaller than you, I just want to be your equal.”

Your image is positive in many respects. Is it political?

“Undoubtedly, I weigh 170 pounds and I’m six feet tall. I’m a big black woman in a world of little contact girls. You know the names.”

Adeva has talked so much and so freely that there seems to be a standard Adeva interview which I do my best to avoid. This however, is the bit where she talks about relationships. She does this because I ask her several obvious questions about relationships.

Like most journalists I am nowhere near as incisive as I pretend to be. Simmer down there at the back, the dick joke comes later.

Are you tough with the men in your life?

“I tell them from the door, ‘This is how it’s going to be, if you don’t like it then get out’. I’m not going through all that bullshit again. But it’s the older guys that are the problem. They’re dogs. They just want that drugstore love, the sort you buy over the counter. Younger guys tend to be more sensitive and they seem less intimidated by my independence. It’s not like I’m saying I don’t want a man to do anything for me. Just let me see if I can do it myself first. And this is not just me. I think I represent a new generation of women who can look after themselves. I’m not like my mother — she is totally dependent on my father. Some men just love you to be weak. If you fall down they like to say, ‘Look at you’ and then help you up. I don’t want to hear that.”

Adeva spends as much time thinking about relationships and love as she does about her music and her work. This is not an accusation. We are all guilty of that. It’s just that some musicians like to pretend that they simply live for the sound that comes out of the speakers. At least in interviews, Adeva’s honesty gives her an aura of sadness.

“I always want to be in a relationship. I’m a giving person and right now I have nobody and I need a boyfriend. I want someone to share my success with. I get tired of sleeping by myself. But I don’t want just anyone. I want someone who wants me for what I really am, not Adeva but me with no make up on, standing in the kitchen scrubbing dishes. I go out on dates with a lot of guys. I have a lot of platonic relationships. I just make it clear to them. No kissing, no touching, no sucking, no fucking. Some of them throw hints but I just say, ‘No you’re like a brother to me. It will never happen’. I got curious one time though. I wanted to see if he had what it took. He did.”

Adeva presents a persuasive sexuality.

This has precious little to do with her music which is almost always aimed above the belly button — a resistant sound that can be over demonstrative but is always spiritual. Sometimes she sounds like a nun. At school she says she was a tomboy. “My mother would do my hair and I would always mess it up. Other girls got all the attention. I was real tall but thin too. Then I got me some substance to my body. That’s when I got me some dick…” She roars with laughter again and the rest of New Jersey crumbles. Should her second LP present her as Barbara Cartland with a better barber I will be surprised. Adeva is special. She’s the woman Janet Jackson dreamed she was on Control. Except this time she sheds a few tears between terrorising innocent walnuts.

© John McCreadyMixmag, July 1991

Leave a Comment