Until Brittany Murphy lent her voice to the penguin Gloria in the 2006 animated hit Happy Feet, the public had gotten only a taste of the chanteuse within the actress on a No. 1 dance club track called "Faster Kill Pussycat," written and produced by Grammy-nominated British trance artist Paul Oakenfold.
"Brittany trained as a singer before she did as an actress," Oakenfold tells PEOPLE. "She was a great actress but she had great vocal potential."
At first, Murphy wasn't so sure she wanted to be attached to Oakenfold's song. She told PEOPLE in 2006, "I've been singing my whole life and [recording] a lot of anonymous vocals. And this was another anonymous vocal, 20 minutes behind the booth in the recording studio two years ago. Then Paul had asked me if I'd put my name on it. The song is so incredible, I said 'Yes,' and we made a video."
But Oakenfold intended Murphy to be the centerpiece of his music video all along. "Her presence on the video is very powerful," he says. "She is very commanding visually and that's what we wanted. We wanted that energy and she did a great job."
As for putting her name on the song, Oakenfold recalls, "I said to her, 'Why hide behind something? You have a really great vocal. People are going to be shocked and pleasantly happy with what they're going to hear. You are not one of these actresses who are trying to sing and not doing a good job of it.'"
And he should know.
"I demoed three other girls on that song," Oakenfold says, "and some of the girls were pretty big singers – and Brittany blew them away."
In recent years, Murphy had been in the process of recording her own album. "She would have done well," Oakenfold says. "She wanted to try this with me, this smoky blues sound with electronic rhythms. She wanted to sound more traditional originally but I told her we should go more edgy. She was really excited by that and it's just a shame it never got as far as people thought it could. It's just a shame that the world is not going to hear more songs of Brittany Murphy."