When Nineties girl group Eternal announced a reunion tour fans were overjoyed at the prospect of seeing the four piece and their synchronised choreography once more.
But the reunion of the group – who had a string of hits including I Wanna Be The Only One, Stay, Just A Step From Heaven and Power Of A Woman – is now off the cards after the singers became embroiled in a row about trans issues.
Louise Redknapp, 48, the biggest star to emerge from the group, backed out of a planned tour after two members of the quartet allegedly refused to play LGBT festivals and events.
The R&B group, whose debut album, Always and Forever, became the first from a girl band to sell more than a million copies in the UK, had planned to reunite for a tour in 2024.
It would have marked the first time the four original members had played together since Redknapp quit the band to pursue a solo singing career in 1995. She later married Jamie Redknapp, the professional footballer turned TV pundit.
However, it has now emerged that Redknapp, also known for reaching the Strictly Come Dancing final in 2016, and Kéllé Bryan have pulled out of the reunion because of the row.
Sisters Easther and Vernie Bennett, who founded the group, were accused of blocking the planned Pride gigs because they believe the trans community has “hijacked” the gay community, according to Redknapp’s publicist Simon Jones.
In a statement sent to the BBC, he said that Redknapp was a “huge supporter and ally” of the LGBT community and that both her and Bryan “would not work with anyone who held these views”.
Separately, Bryan posted on her social media:
In response to the Daily mail article. pic.twitter.com/vs7C45IRI6
— Kelle Bryan (@kellebryan) September 25, 2023
The band has previously reunited without Redknapp in 2014 as part of ITV’s series The Big Reunion.
During this televised reunion the band are understood to have performed at LGBT events, with founding member Vernie posting on Twitter in August 2014: “What a fantastic night … thanks to Pride Cymru,” and her sister Easther Bennett posting: “Cardiff Pride... Loved It!!”
In his statement about the tour, Jones said: “A message was sent to the team putting together the Eternal reunion stating that if it was to go ahead, neither Vernie nor Easther would perform at Pride shows or LGBTQ+ festivals.
“This was because the duo felt that the gay community was being hijacked by the trans community and they do not support this.
“Louise is a huge supporter and ally of the LGBTQ+ community and both herself and Kéllé told the duo they would not work with anyone who held these views, and as such the reunion as a four would not be going ahead.
“The team behind the proposed Eternal reunion are gay including management, PR and tour promoter, and neither myself nor any of the team would work with artists who held such views about the trans community.”
On Sunday afternoon, Redknapp posted a picture of the Progress Pride flag, created by artist Daniel Quasar, on her social media accounts with the caption “Always and Forever”.
The flag was created to update its precursor by representing marginalised people of colour in the LGBTQ community as well as those in the trans community and those living with HIV/AIDs.
Separately, band member Bryan said on Monday afternoon: “Opportunities to reunite for an Eternal reunion tour with the girls has been discussed many times over the years.
“As mothers, the right opportunity and timing for all of our schedules have been tricky to arrange.”
The Telegraph has contacted representatives for Vernie and Easther Bennett for comment.