Cheyenne Elliott

The young, beautiful and talented Cheyenne Elliott is no stranger to the stage or to music, having grown up in a musical family including her grandmother, iconic legend Dionne Warwick, her cousin, the late Whitney Houston, and her dad, David Elliott, who co-wrote the Luther Vandross hit “Here and Now.” At only 20 years old she has released her dance single “With You” on Jason Dauman’s label Dauman Music, and it has already sky-rocketed to number three. It is a breakout record on the Billboard Dance Club Charts.

Cheyenne has just come off of appearing with Andy Cohen on his show and will be appearing at Night of a Thousand Gowns, the extraordinary event hosted and produced by The Imperial Court of New York held annually, this being its 29th year.  This fabulous and prestigious charity event will take place on April 11 at the Marriott Marquis NYC. Appearing alongside Cheyenne will be her grandmother, Dionne Warwick, who will be holding court; Jody Watley; the cast of Avenue Q; and many other personalities and artists.

Despite the fact that Cheyenne’s popularity grows each day along with her schedule, I was fortunate to be able to have a conversation with her.  I was floored by the spirit of her soul and the essence of her energy, not to mention her wise and professional answers to my questions. The interview became somewhat of a family affair as her mom, Lisa Gressett, who doubles as her manager and was quite fun to chat with, also answered a question or two.

I want to congratulate you for being asked to perform at Night of a Thousand gowns.
Thank you so much. I’m really so excited and looking so forward to it.

So, did you pick out a gown yet?
I actually have. I’ve been talking to some of the dancers I’ll be performing with, who will create the look on stage. I’m very, very excited for that.

How many songs are you going to be doing?
I’ll be performing two songs, both originals. I’ll be performing my new dance single “With You,” and I’ll be performing a ballad of mine called “Salt Water Tears.”

I heard your new dance single on the Dauman Music record label. It’s so full of energy; I just love it.  Are you planning a tour to support the single?
Oh, absolutely, that’s definitely the goal. That’s definitely a future plan, hopefully.

You’re from New York, correct?

What do you do for fun?

I turned 20 in September, and it’s just amazing. I’ve lived in New York for most of my life, and I love it. I feel like there’s no place that I’d rather live on the East Coast. New York – this is the place to be. I absolutely adore New York.

I totally agree, but what do you do for fun in New York? You’re not even old enough to be allowed in many clubs yet!
That’s the thing, yeah. I love hanging out with my girlfriend. I love to go to dinner. I love to go shopping. That’s how I spend my free time, with my family and friends.

You were just on Andy Cohen’s show.
Yes, that was an amazing experience. It was so exhilarating to me being on live television like that. I haven’t done anything like that before.

Was he fun?
Oh, so fun, so nice, and the crew was so nice. They made me feel very comfortable. The live audience was great.  I had a great time. I just tried to keep it fun and fresh.

You’ve been performing since you were really little?
I have.

And you have very interesting relatives.
I do. A couple of interesting people in there.

What was it like growing up with the biggest music artists in history, in the world?
I mean it definitely paved the way to where I am now. My grandmother has given me so many opportunities that I’m so thankful for. She started bringing me out on tour with her when I was just 12 years old. You know, that’s a really young age to be touring around the world. So summers that I had free from school, when everyone else was in camp or home, I was in Europe, I was in Asia. It was amazing. That’s what I did for my summer vacations. Coming back home from that, I found a great balance from that celebrity, in the camera lifestyle and then being at home. We have a very good family unit, so I never felt uncomfortable with anything. It’s been great growing up with such positive role models as my grandmother.  She’s amazing.

Yes, she is. I understand that you are very close with her.
Very close. She’s my grammy. I love her very much.

Being raised amidst such a famous, talented family, did you ever feel pressured into becoming a performer, or did you just want to?
Definitely, if any pressure was there, it was not coming from my family. They wanted me to find my own destiny and my own path, and it just happened to be music. That’s what I love. It was really in my blood. From society, of course, there’s gonna be pressure. I have huge shoes to fill.

Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Yes, I’m working on what’s going to come after “With You,” like a follow-up dance song to keep the momentum and keep the energy even more this time, and keep riding that wave right now and see where it takes me. Get in the studio and record. That’s really what we’re planning right now
Dance music is a really, really good choice right now.
It really is, because that’s what my peers wanna hear, going to the clubs. It’s on the radio. It’s everywhere. You cannot escape it. If you can find your own twist, that’s what makes you stand out from the rest, so that’s what we’re working on doing. We’re finding that perfect sound.

I would love to see your grandmother do a dance mix with you. 
That would be fun. I’ll have lunch with her and talk to her about it.

You should. So the first time you were ever on stage, you were so young. How nervous were you?
I definitely was nervous for sure. I think the first time anyone gets up on stage to do whatever they’re doing – talking, singing, dancing – you’re out of your comfort zone. But as soon as I got up on stage with a family member, I think I felt so comfortable that I knew this was something I could do. Being with her, she makes me so comfortable on stage, and then I find my own comfort within myself. I learned that and kept that over the years. Smile, have fun and be myself, and people feel that energy on stage, and then they’re gonna feel great.

What were your Christmases like?
Christmas is my grandmother’s favorite holiday. A lot of the times we would get the whole family together and just hang out. A lot of food, a lot of home-cooked food, and just be together. That’s the time to be with your family and have that down time. Christmas is something I look forward to. It’s my favorite holiday as well.

If we could see what’s in your heart at this very moment, what would we see?
That’s a great question: my love for music, my love for my family, the passion that I have, the drive, determination, a lot of positive energy. That’s the state that I’m living in, and that’s where I wanna stay.

That’s a great answer to that question. Who would you take on a date to outerspace?
OMG, maybe I would take someone like Elton John. I would be like, how did you become Elton John? I think that would be really fun.

Good choice. Do you have a favorite artist that you’d love to meet?

Right now I would love to meet Sam Smith. I think he’s had an incredible year. He is a very powerful artist. I’ve watched countless hours of him do live performances. I would talk to him about his writing abilities and performance and stage presence. He is like really WOW,  a powerhouse.

I agree. Do you have a favorite type of audience you enjoy performing in front of?
No, I think everyone finds something in everything. My grandmother’s audience is a little older than myself; they gave me a great response. I perform for my peers; they give me a great response, and that makes me feel great. There’s no age limits, no barriers. Everyone loves to dance. No matter what age you are, you want to get up and dance and have fun, and that’s what I’m trying to make my audience do.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
I do. I’m a hopeless romantic. I think everyone does secretly if they’re not willing to admit it.

What do you think your best quality is?
I think I’m a very loyal person: loyal to my family, loyal to my friends. When I love you, I love you hard, so I’m there for you through the good, through the bad.

If your life was a soundtrack, what songs would be on it
I would have to put “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” one of Whitney’s, my favorite songs by Whitney. I would probably put “I Feel Good.” I would put a lot of positive songs. I’m a sucker for Fiona Apple, and she’s a little darker, so…

What do you hope to gain experience-wise from Night of a Thousand Gowns?
Well, this is going to be one of the first times I’m going to do a choreographed performance, so that’s going to be one of the challenges I’m going to face. I’m not a dancer, although my mom would say I’m a dancer, but I’m not a professional dancer, so that’s going to be very interesting. I think performing for this crowd is going to be a lot of fun, and I better bring it!

Is there anything else that you wish to promote for the magazine?
Cheyenne: Yes, my Facebook is…mom, are you still there?


Cheyenne: I would love it if everyone would like that and share it. All of my videos and performances are on that page.

Mom, can I ask you a fast question? How does it feel having such a talented daughter?
Mom: I’m sitting here blushing just hearing her talking to you. I want to commend you, first of all, because she hasn’t done a lot of interviews, but this one is really special, and your questions are amazing.

Thank you.
They are fun, I agree

She does a great interview.
Mom: As a parent you recognize very early on what your children are good at, and I believe that all children have talent. As they’re growing you find something special in your child. From very early on I knew that Cheyenne was going to be a great singer. I knew it. She vocally stood out at about nine years old. At nine years old, in Coney Island, Dionne called her up on stage. She did “That’s What Friends Are For” with her. It’s kind of like a destiny thing; we knew that it was going to happen. Cheyenne is going to continue this legacy, and it’s a beautiful legacy to continue. She has her own look and her own style. Nobody can be Dionne Warwick. Nobody can be Whitney Houston. That’s what’s beautiful about Cheyenne. She’s not trying to be anyone but herself. It’s a lot of pressure when you come from that type of iconic singers. I’m proud of her that she’s so comfortable in her own skin. She has a beautiful spirit and a beautiful heart.

Mom, what’s your name?
Mom: It’s Lisa Gressett, and I’m a nurse. I’m a professor in psychology, and I am now managing a future pop star.

Eileen Shapiro

Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....

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