All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for April 2004

Beyonce, Keys, Elliott put 'Ladies First' on megatour

Friday, April 2, 2004
Mekeisha Madden
The Detroit News

Beyonce has all the makings of a diva.

The pop and R&B singer has dropped her last name, she snagged Jay-Z — the self-appointed king of hip-hop — as her beau, and she collected five Grammys back in February for her successful solo album “Dangerously in Love.”

But when it comes to promoting her ever-popular “Ladies First Tour,” which descends upon the Palace on Saturday, Beyonce comes across as a giddy 22-year-old, not a diva. Unlike her co-star Missy Elliott, Beyonce made herself available for interviews. And she talked to reporters more eagerly than her somewhat distant concert-mate Alicia Keys. Beyonce’s friendliness can only be paralleled by opening act Tamia, who seemed to bask in the attention.

It is possible that Beyonce hides her witch hat when company comes calling. There were those Destiny’s Child rumors. But there also seems to be a genuine enthusiasm that bubbles up in Beyonce’s voice when she talks about the tour that she’s been dreaming about for a year.

“I talked to Columbia Records (her label) and my father to make it happen,” Beyonce says during a recent teleconference. “Finally, I went to Missy Elliott, and she went to Alicia, and we finally set it up.”

What they “set up” is one of the most talked about concerts of the year, the “Ladies First Tour.” Dubbed the “Urban Lilith Fair,” the tour is a deadly combination of star-power, estrogen and talent that has even its stars in a frenzy.

“Beyonce is incredible. Alicia Keys is incredible, and Missy thinks outside the box. She’s so very creative,” says Tamia, during a recent phone interview from her Orlando, Fla., home. “If I wasn’t on the tour, I would go and see it.”

Keys, 22, agrees, adding that she and the other women have distinct enough styles to attract a diverse audience.

“Women can get together and do a show where we’re not playing a secondary role,” says Keys, in a separate teleconference. “Once this tour is done, I think the message will be clear to the industry that a show like this can be done well.”

Keys, reportedly, will break with tradition and dance and sit atop her piano. “I usually perform in very intimate settings,” Keys says. “The tour is my way of expanding my style. I want to keep moving and changing.”

Tamia will set the tone of the show with a 15-minute performance, Elliott, 32, will follow with a 30-minute show, and Keys and Beyonce will do 70-minute sets. Beyonce will close.

Beyonce says she perfected 60 percent of her show when she toured in Europe late last year. Costuming is a big part of the production, says Beyonce, who looked at old Hollywood movies for set and costume inspiration. Dolce & Gabbana designed fashions for Beyonce, Elliot and their dancers.

And while it would be divine if all four singers performed together, it’s unlikely, Beyonce says.

“If we had time, it would be nice to learn a song together for the tour. It would be a wonderful surprise for everyone,” she says.

The tour represents something different for each of its stars, who each have albums to promote. Beyonce’s “Dangerously in Love” and Keys’ “A Diary of Alicia Keys” are in the first half of Billboard’s Top 100, while Elliott’s “This is Not a Test” ranks below the top 50.

Meanwhile, this is Tamia’s return to music. In August, doctors diagnosed the 28-year-old with multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease that affects the central nervous system.

“When I was diagnosed, I didn’t think I would have a career at all, and singing was the last thing on my mind,” she says. “I’m also a mother, wife, daughter, sister.” Tamia and her husband, NBA star and former Detroit Piston Grant Hill, have a 2-year-old daughter named Myla.

Now the Windsor, Ontario, native is back and promoting her third album “More,” due in stores Tuesday. The tour stop in Metro Detroit will give Tamia a chance to see family and eat at her favorite Metro Detroit restaurant, Beans & Cornbread in Southfield.

As for Beyonce, expect a Destiny’s Child reunion with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams in the near future and more movie roles too, says the co-star of “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”

“One of the most challenging things will be to come back together as a group. We’ve all grown so much,” Beyonce says. “But I think it will be our best album because we have learned a lot over the past two years. We’re all stronger, and that will make the album stronger.”

Copyright © 2004, The Detroit News