Lane McCray from La Bouche Gives Eileen Shapiro a heartfelt Interview

Lane McCray

Lane McCray came back With New Single and Video  “Night After Night” 

One of the most powerful and vibrant duos to celebrate and rule the musical Euro-pop, dance  scene of the 90's was "La Bouche", (French for "The Mouth"), then featuring singer Melanie Thornton and singer/rapper Lane McCray. Recognized for a series of super hits including, "Sweet Dreams", "Be My Lover", "You Won't Forget Me", and "Tonight is the Night", the duo was discovered by German record producer Frank Farian, who along with techno DJ Ulli Brenner and producer Amir Saraf produced some of the best dance music on the planet, fronted by Thornton and McCray.

In 2001 Melanie Thornton left La Bouche to pursue a solo career, but then the unthinkable happened. Thornton died tragically in the Crossair Flight plane crash in Zurich, Switzerland, also in 2001.

Lane McCray stunned and devastated by tragedy continued to tour globally as La Bouche, keeping the brand alive. In 2015 McCray discovered Hungarian-born, effervescent, singer Sophie Cairo to be the new official. Together they released the first brand new music and video in 16 years called "Night After Night". The song is an energetic and powerful mix with the iconic flavor that belongs solely to La Bouche. La Bouche is constantly touring large arenas and stadiums globally.

I had a heart-felt, intimate, and brilliant conversation with the multi-platinum artist, Lane McCray, now living in Germany about the newest La Bouche music, his constant and ongoing tribute to Melanie Thornton and his own personal artistic endeavors. He was candid and humble and very excited about his new release.....

Lane McCrayEileen Shapiro: You were and are still so popular musically with the enormous amount of dance hits you had.

Lane McCray: I think I'm working more now than I did when the records were out, believe it or not. The opportunities for touring through the promo companies, doing radio shows, and promos here and there and of course where we make most of our money, which is on the road, touring.

Eileen Shapiro: Aside from touring, what are you doing now?

Lane McCray: Well, I have a bottle of wine right next to me....Currently right now La Bouche released its first new single in 16 years. It's called "Night After Night". So we've been pushing and promoting that all week on social media, all the digital music sights, Amazon, Spotify,....and just after a few days we had 18 and a half thousand views on YouTube. So I'm really excited about that, and the promo companies are already pushing it on the radio. Beyond that we've been in the studio working on new material, we have several tracks that are in the can and we should have that completed by the end of the summer. So we will be releasing this long play CD. Actually it's been a little bit of a mixed blessing because my original partner Melanie Thornton was such a force to be reckoned with. Every young lady that I worked with since subsequent to that has been chasing a ghost. The 90s fans have been so vigilant to standby Melanie and her spirit. No one more than me loved her and everything about her, but you know she's gone since 2001. We just have to move on. I'm working with my current partner Sofie. It's been a little bit of a mixed bag. Some people haven't accepted her although the majority of the people have accepted her. There are a couple of die-hard people out there that just want Melanie back. If there was any way to do that...there's just one person that can do that.....and that's not me.

Eileen Shapiro: When I think back of La Bouche as a duo, you always sounded musically as so much more....

Lane McCray: When Melanie and I first came on I was actually in the United States Air Force. I first came to Europe in 1991. A friend of mine asked if I would come and sing in his cover band that Melanie was singing with called "Groovin' Affairs". So I went in for some rehearsals with the band and I did a couple of gigs with them. Melanie was subsequently working with Ulli Brenner and Amir Saraf on some tracks and she asked me if I wanted to get involved. She wanted me to do some supporting vocals and rap, and I had never been in a studio before. Once we got in there of course you know our producer was the infamous or famous Frank Farian of Milli Vanilli. He took us under his wing and it was odd that when we first released our first record, we had to do live singing and some a-cappella with had to be the real thing. But when I first got here the dance music was so freaking fast. I had just come from the US where we were a bit slower on the dance thing. Then I started hearing people like Martha Wash, Jonathan Brown and Crystal Waters and Robin S, and these people were all covering these dance tracks. I thought that was really cool. So when Melanie and I got in the game, most of the euro dance that was going on was kind of centered around the rap. Girls were singing hooks, and we were kind of the reverse of that. Of course most of the rappers didn't really sing, so the vocals were done by the girls. So that blended us a bit different than the others.

Eileen Shapiro: How do you feel that music has changed from the 90's to now, and what is your take on the current music scene?

Lane McCray: Music is always evolving right? It's evolved from decades, and decades, and decades. People ask me about the 90s, and I think the 90s has become a genre onto itself. We had rock 'n' roll in the 60s, disco in the 70s, glam rock in the 80s... so I think we kind of progressed into our own genre. The way I grew up I listened to people like The Temptations, Diana Ross, the way they phrased their lyrics. It wasn't about vocal acrobatics, how many high notes you could hit or tricks and all that sort of stuff. Now it's almost conversational, the melodies, the music. Some of it I find very interesting. Currently right now I like some of the stuff that Drake is doing, melody wise. I like Charlie Puth. My taste kind of varies. But even back in the 70's in the 80s there was music that I really didn't care too much for, and there was music that I loved. So I think that's the same for the music that is going on today. It's just the quality of what one wants to put out there. And I think the 90s artists that I trying to stay in the game, it's difficult because our fans want to stay in the 90s. Was the music better? In some regards yes.... but as far as the business aspect of it, we've gone from record deals to A&R promotion teams to downloads and streams, and I am still trying to wrap my mind around it. It was so much easier when you had a label, when the label did everything for you. They told you where to be, now I find myself all day, on social media, booking shows, pushing products, just to stay invisible. It's a lot of work. I don't have anyone doing that for me so I'm very hands on with regards to that. So it's been interesting to say the least.

Eileen Shapiro: Those songs that you did are iconic. Everyone knows the songs, sometimes people tend not to realize that the songs belong to a duo called La Bouche...

Lane McCray: That's one of the problems I had early on in the career. When you have more than one person in a group there is always some compromise, some head-butting. Melanie and I were certainly good friends. We differed on some things and one was management. She wanted her sister to represent us. I had no problem with that, but she had never done it before. She could learn but at who's expense? So I remember I had a meeting with some Harvard educated people to represent us only they couldn't represent one half of a group. They had said if we sign with the label right now that they could get us at least a $5 million advance on a record. It seems like a missed opportunity for success. I said all that because a lot of people knew the song, but they missed knowing who we were. I wanted that recognition from the beginning. For example I would walk into a hotel and the staff would run over and say welcome to the hotel Mr. Haddaway. I thought, Haddaway is here? I'm Lane McCray, not Haddaway. We don't all look alike you know....

Eileen Shapiro: But you do have a great musical history.

Lane McCray: You know I really do enjoy talking to people about our story because I think there are a lot of fans out there that still don't realize that Melanie is no longer with us. I want to get our story out there so people do know, because I just want to honor her. One of the reasons why I continue to work is to keep her memory alive. We had some great times together. It's still shocking to me all these years later that she's not here.

Eileen Shapiro: So then tell me a little bit about Melanie.

Lane McCray: Melanie Thornton is from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. When I met her, like I said it was with this situation with this cover band. She lived in her own modest apartment, but she had one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever known. She was caring and giving. At the beginning of our career we didn't have a pot to piss in. We would go to each other's house for dinner. I was still in the military the first 8/9 months of La Bouche, and I would have barbecues at my house. She would come over and get the sides together, and we would entertain all those military people at my house. She was just a bright light in my life. It's just so hard to fathom, because I've never lost anyone in my family through death. So that was my first death experience. When I found out about it I was in Las Vegas in my fathers house after Thanksgiving. Crystal Waters called me and said "Lane did you hear something about a plane crash?" I told her that I hadn't heard anything. By the time I got off the telephone I saw this ticket-tape run across CNN, saying that Melanie Thornton has died in the Crossair plane crash. I just dropped the phone and I just couldn't believe it. Melanie was so tenacious. Some people survived the crash, I thought she would be one of them. I thought she would walk away from it because she was so tenacious. But that was not the case. So for a couple of years I just didn't do anything. I just contemplated, "why am I here?" "What do I do now?" We were a duo. So after a couple of years of not working I went back to an agent and he told me La Bouche was dead and that I should probably consider getting a real job. So I went back to my original agent and we formulated a strategy to get back out there. So I started working and have not stopped since. But Melanie, there is not one bad thing I could say about her. She was caring, giving, talented, charismatic, I think she was on the threshold I'd becoming another Donna Summer. She had that kind of voice.

Eileen Shapiro: It's very sad but ....*

Lane McCray: You have to keep going. There's a lesson I try to impart to everyone: you've got to tell people in your life that you love them, because tomorrow is not promised to anyone. We could be gone. You never sweat the small stuff. We never got excited about small things. We were just extremely  glad to be a couple of black kids, one from South Carolina, and one from Kentucky, to land on the international stage of music and to have people share in that  journey with us. There is no bigger rush than walking into a 40,000 seat stadium and have everybody singing "La da da da da da".

Eileen Shapiro: I can only imagine what that feeling is like.  Must be really crazy. So if you could have your ultimate stage fantasy, what would you need to happen?

Lane McCray: Probably a million dollars....I look back on all those special effects but at the end of it as a singer, a spot light and a 40 peace orchestra to redo all of these dance songs in orchestral form. That would be my fantasy performance.

Eileen Shapiro: If you could say anything to your fans what would you want to say?*

Lane McCray: What I would say to them all the time is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and this might sound cliché but without you there would be no us. They have been with me from the beginning, through the highs and the lows, and so just thank you. Thank you for allowing us the privilege to be in front of you.

Eileen Shapiro: Do you believe that music has the power to change the world?*

Lane McCray: Absolutely! I'll say this: Music transcends cultures, ethnic background, religions, social and economic situations. I've been all over the world to some impoverished places and wealthy places. You have all kinds of people that come to the shows. I know that it brings people together. You may not understand the words that we sing, but you feel the intent and the meaning behind it. I know that it has always been my belief that music has always been around for all occasions, for birth, and death and parties and celebrations. If you look back through the turbulent times of the 60s, the Beatles wrote "Come Together", and Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On", and "We Are the World", all of these songs have had impacts on the world. If we could get some of these politicians globally to get into that we might be able to live in a better world. Buses being blown up in Syria, kids being gassed, maybe it would stop. MUSIC does have the power to heal, if people would just listen. It's what I believe.

Watch the new video “Night After Night” by La Bouche :

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