Cher today, at 67
Who knew that If I Could Turn Back Time, one of Cher’s biggest hits, would turn out to be so prophetic? The 67-year-old singer really does seem to have turned back time, continuing to defy the ravages of the passing years, both in her appearance and her career.
Cher counts Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and several Golden Globes amongst her long list of awards. She is the only artist to have a No. 1 single on the Billboard pop charts in each of the last six decades.
Now, astonishingly, Cher is about to release her long-awaited twenty-sixth solo studio album, Closer to the Truth, at the end of September. And, judging by the first single, the dance floor stomper Woman’s World, the star is nowhere near to quietly retiring.
A brief history of Cher
Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian on May 20 in 1946 in El Centro, California. Her father was a troubled Armenian truck driver and her mother was an occasional model and small time actress with Irish, English, German, and Cherokee ancestry.
Cher developed her iconic low voice at the age of nine and performed in school plays. At 16, she dropped out of school and started taking acting classes, making money as a nightclub dancer and backup singer. She even had an affair with Warren Beatty.
She then met singer and producer Sonny Bono, who was 11 years older and would change her life. They became lovers and embarked on a career as a duo (because Cher was too nervous to sing alone). Sonny and Cher released a series of hits, achieving 11 Billboard top 40 singles and selling 40 million records worldwide. They also hosted massively successful comedy and variety television series.
Sonny cheated on her but they still married in 1969 after Cher gave birth to Chaz Bono, (born Chastity Bono). The hits, however, didn’t last as a couple and Cher moved on to release a series of solo albums. They eventually divorced in 1975. In 1978, the singer legally changed her name to Cher, without a surname.
Cher in the 1970s
By the 1980’s Cher’s albums were no longer selling well and she began to focus on acting, scoring the role of Meryl Streep’s lesbian lover in the film Silkwood. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and won a Golden Globe Award for her performance. More film roles followed and she won an Oscar for Best Actress for Moonstruck.
Riding on a wave of renewed visibility Cher released two studio albums, Cher (1987) and Heart of Stone (1989), which spawned massive hits including I Found Someone and If I Could Turn Back Time.
In 1998, she released her 22nd studio album Believe which saw her embrace the dance music genre. It was her biggest hit to date. The 2000s saw Cher appear on Will & Grace twice, release the album, Living Proof (2001) and embark on a global tour and a three year residency in Las Vegas.
The gay icon
Somewhere along the way Cher also became a gay icon, in part thanks to her image and unique sense of style (which was copied by many a drag artist). LGBT issues became very personal ones for the star when her then daughter Chastity Bono came out as a lesbian at the age of 17.
Chastity went on to transition to a transgender man, Chaz. Cher admitted that she struggled with these changes but came out the other side an even stronger champion of the gay and lesbian community.
In June this year she thanked her gay fans for their support ahead of a New York Pride performance. “From the bottom of my heart, I mean this. I’ve had ups and downs in my career and you guys have never left me. I was out, I was uncool, I was whatever… a has-been, but you guys have always been there…” she said.
Just recently Cher revealed that she turned down an offer to open the Winter Olympic Games in Russia because she’s opposed to the country’s anti-gay laws. “I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there,” she told Canada’s MacLean’s magazine.
Closer to the Truth
Now Cher is back with her first album in 12 years. Closer to the Truth includes songs written by Pink and production by Paul Oakenfold and Timbaland. Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears also appears on one of the songs.
The album, recorded over the last year in Los Angeles and London, features 11 new tracks and is led by the power anthem and first single Women’s World, which reached the No. 1 spot in the US on the Billboard Dance Club chart.
The album also includes the heartfelt ballad co-written by Pink Lie to Me, an unashamed dance-floor extravaganza, Take It Like A Man, the haunting and profoundly romantic I Hope You Find It, the James Bondesque club thriller, Dressed To Kill and a poignant anthem to 9/11, Sirens.
“I’m proud of my new record. I think if you’re a Cher fan, you’ll definitely be happy and not disappointed,” said the pop icon in a recent interview.
Cher is scheduled to begin a whirlwind global promotional tour in conjunction with the album’s release and will be appearing on several major TV shows around the world.