Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wilson relocated to Los Angeles with her mother and aunt (Crystal and Penni) who were themselves interested in pursuing careers in the music industry. They soon abandoned their aspirations of stardom, instead focusing their efforts on young Shanice; forming the management company Crystal Penni to cultivate and promote her talents. At age 9, Shanice appeared in a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial with the legendary jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. In 1984, she appeared as a regular in season 1, episodes 1-14 of the children's program Kids Incorporated and was replaced by Carletta Prince in season 1, episode 15 of this show. At age 11, Shanice competed on Star Search. Shortly after that, she was signed to A&M Records. The given name "Shanice", an ad-hoc combination of the name elements Shan- and -ice, first enters the official statistics of most popular given names in the United States in 1988, i.e. in the year after the singer's debut album; its popularity peaked in 1992, at rank 162 of most popularly given girls' names, after Shanice's biggest hit I Love Your Smile and again fell below rank 1000 by the year 2000.
In 1987, at the age of 14, A&M Records released her debut album, Discovery. It produced two top-ten R&B hits, "(Baby Tell Me) Can You Dance" and "No ½ Steppin'". Wilson went on to sign a deal with Motown Records in the summer of 1990, releasing Inner Child in late 1991, which included her best-known hit single "I Love Your Smile". It reached the top ten in 22 countries, including the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also featured a cover of Minnie Riperton's 1974 hit "Lovin' You", a rendition that brought attention to her five-octave vocal range.
After Inner Child, Wilson continued to record albums, including 1994's 21… Ways to Grow with producer Rhett Lawrence a Los Angeles session musician and Earth Wind & Fire guitarist Dick Smith. This effort was followed by a move to LaFace Records, who released the 1999 album Shanice. While she has not achieved significant commercial success with subsequent albums, she has contributed to various film soundtracks, such as Boomerang ("Don't Wanna Love You") and The Meteor Man ("It's for You"). Wilson also achieved success with her top-ten hit "Saving Forever for You", from the Beverly Hills 90210 Soundtrack. She also recorded "If I Never Knew You", a duet with Jon Secada, for the original soundtrack of Disney's 1995 film Pocahontas.
Shanice occasionally does background vocals for other artists; she can be heard on Toni Braxton's "Come on Over Here" and "Un-Break My Heart", as well as Usher's "Bedtime". In 2010 she performed vocals on the track "Behind the Mask", from Michael Jackson's posthumous album Michael. Wilson recorded the song "A Midnight Rendezvous" for the 2012 Kinect game Rhythm Party. She also performed the English theme song for the video game The Bouncer, called "Love Is the Gift". Wilson return to recording after a five-year hiatus and released her fifth studio album Every Woman Dreams on her own label Imajah (named for her two children). The album peaked at #30 on the R&B Albums Chart.
In addition to singing, Wilson is also an actress, first appearing in season five of Family Matters episode "Rock Enroll". She later performed in 1997 on the Broadway stage as the first black performer to star in the role of Eponine in the musical Les Misérables. In 2001 Shanice also starred in the made-for-TV movie One Special Moment, an adaptation of Brenda Jackson's 1998 novel of the same name. In 2011, Shanice joined Niecy Nash and Frenchie Davis for the 21st Annual "Divas Simply Singing" HIV/AIDS charity event. Shanice and her husband, Flex, are starring in their own reality show Flex & Shanice, which premiered on November 1, 2014, on OWN.
On Valentine's Day 2000, Wilson married actor/comedian Flex Alexander. They have two children, daughter Imani Shekinah Knox (born August 23, 2001) and son Elijah Alexander Knox (born March 5, 2004).1987: Discovery
1991: Inner Child
1994: 21... Ways to Grow
1999: Ultimate Collection
2006: Every Woman Dreams
1993: Golden Lion Award for Best International Artist
1993: Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance - Female ("I Love Your Smile")
1993: Soul Train Music Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist