Jen & Friends

Jennie Matthias

Jennie 'Bellestar' Matthias

Eugenie Matthias, better known as Jennie Matthias, first burst onto the pop scene in the well loved 80’s all-girl band The Belle Stars back in 1981 following the break-up of The Bodysnatchers, another all-girl band who released two ska singles ‘Let’s Do Rock Steady’ and ‘Easy Life’ on the legendary 2-Tone record label.

The Belle Stars became a well known gigging band, unusual by today’s standards, and in 1981 finally signed to another legendary record label Stiff Records, known for their quirky and innovative marketing ideas.

Following the release of three original singles Hiawatha (written by The Bodysnatchers), Slick Trick and Another Latin Love Song they finally scored their first Top 40 UK chart hit with ’Iko Iko’ in 1982, a cover version of the 60’s classic by The Dixie Cups. Sadly, the release of The Belle Stars version clashed with a release of the same song by Natasha who went to score a Top 10 hit with her version in the UK. However, The Belle Stars’s version proved to have longevity by becoming a Top 20 hit in the US in 1988 and a chart success worldwide following it’s appearance in the Oscar winning US movie ’Rain Man’ featuring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.

The Belle Stars released a further 7 singles after Iko Iko, scoring their biggest hit with ‘Sign of The Times’ which reached No.3 in the UK charts and was a Top 10 hit in Europe.

In 1984, following band differences, the 7-piece Belle Stars split up leaving Sarah-Jane Owen, Miranda Joyce and Lesley Shone to continue as a 3-piece Belle Stars until 1986 when they too finally called it a day.

In 1987, Jennie formed ‘Dance Like A Mother’ with her friend Melissa Ritter, formerly of The
Mo-dettes and they recorded tracks for an album with Randy Jackson, Preston Glass & Narada Micheal Walden in San Rafael, California just outside of San Francisco. They were signed to Virgin and released two singles ‘You Ain‘t So Tough‘ and ’Private Number'.

The video for ’You Ain’t So Tough’ was a parody of the ‘Addicted to Love’ video by Robert Palmer with a bunch of male models some of whom went on to be quite successful. Jennie remembers this period in her life as a real eye opener, working with true professionals, meeting untold legends who played on their tracks and it being the most fabulous time.

As mentioned earlier, Jennie went on to tour the US in 1989 promoting 'Iko Iko' and during this time she formed another band in Miami called Security One.  The band came over to England to perform but sadly the album they recorded still remains unreleased.

Jennie spent the next several years organising fashion shows in the Miami nightclub owned by Ron Wood and performing in European Jazz Festivals before opening up a small shop called Dredd Experience in the West end of London in 1994.  The shop catered mainly for 'good as new' vintage wear but also sold exclusive coats and jackets.

In 1995/1996 Jennie formed the ska-punk band Big 5 with ex-Bad Manners bassist Nick Welsh.  Together they wrote and recorded three albums and performed live as a band creating a cult following.  

This friendship with Nick Welsh has continued and Jennie co-wrote several songs for Nick's band Skaville Uk. 

Jennie also guested on many live gigs with the band, most notably for her birthday celebrations in 2008 and 2009.

They continued to work together as Ska-coustica! along with Rhoda Dakar and played the festivals in 2008. 

For many years now Jennie has performed and recorded tracks with various artists while continuing to work with disadvantaged children.  She used her poetry to raise awareness of issues that are important to her and her poem 'Scag Man' was made into an animated movie to help young people become more aware of the dangers of drugs.  See the movie on the Community Projects page. 

Jennie is also the founder of S-teem, a project developed to help young people make better informed choices about their lives and she received an Intermix Positive Contribution Award in 2003 for her work with young people.

Jennie created 1-STOP-EXPERIENCE in 2009, a concept in 'INTELLIGENT SKA' using SKA and REGGAE as a backdrop for each perception.  They released one sold-out album 'Peeping Tom' in October 2011.  Check out the official
1-STOP-EXPERIENCE website for more information about the band and the album.  

2012 saw 1-STOP-EXPERIENCE visit Poland for the first time and whilst the band recorded a second album there are currently no plans for its release.

Jennie currently manages 'Matchless Gifts', a charity shop in Islington for the 'Food For All' charity.  Jennie's an advocate for this charity and regularly attends the Battersea Car Boot sales each week collecting donations and is also part of 'Food For All Band' who regularly crusade at protest marches against austerity and other community issues.

In 2015, Jennie & The Guitar Singers debut album 'Tales of the Unexpected' sees its release on Diablo Records in August.  The band also features guest appearances from Chrissy Boy and Lee Thompson from Madness. 

Jen & Friends

Although Jennie's time is mainly dedicated to running Matchless Gifts and supporting the Food For All charity, she continues to work with many different artists covering all genres of music, from ska, latin, lovers rock to pop and beyond.

This site showcases Jennie as a consummate artist in her own right as a singer, songwriter and poet.

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