I am still on a high from one of the most long awaited and BEST touring experiences EVER!
When I was invited, approximately 6 months ago, to come perform 2 concerts in Santiago, Chile, I was ecstatic. It had been a long overdue live experience I wanted to share with my South American audience. I have long received fan letters from this part of the world and now, with social media, have become acutely aware of just how far reaching impact music in general, and much to my delight – my music, has had throughout the years.
After what would be the most challenging year of my life (more on that in a forthcoming blog) I packed my bags with custom designed costumes by Gabriel Krueger and shoes by Marie Osmond’s daughter Rachael to head South. We left in the middle of the night and travelled about 24 hours, door to door, but arrived with such excitement the exhaustion didn’t stand a chance. Paulina from Bizarro Productions, the show promoters, greeted us. Shortly after arriving, I began my press days. I felt so open and vulnerable to the heartfelt, sincere energies that came my way from the radio hosts and fans alike.
A stand out interview was with interviewer Esteban Aparicio and photographer Alfredo of Caras Magazine.
Another stand out interview was with Daniel Fuenzalida from RadioActiva.
I particularly loved chatting with Teresa Hale from Romantica 104.1 FM about the issues surrounding the modern day woman, as I found, much like music, it is a connective thread that transcends geography!
A few interviews got cancelled and texts of concern poured in regarding the earthquakes and tsunami warnings. We were OK in Santiago, but our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected. Lives first, pop music later.
My team (#TeamDeb) arrived shortly thereafter with Devon, Buddy, Eddie, Ray, Joey, Paul, Heather, and Elizabeth in tow. I was so thrilled to see my friends in this beautiful country! Working with people I love and who have genuine love for me is what it is all about. Sharing this experience with them was a bonding of a unique kind.
Show day number one was approaching and we had a vocal rehearsal in a hotel ballroom and a band rehearsal with local musicians Fer, Natalia, and Leo, and soundman Rob, in a garage studio… MUY CALIENTE. Ahhhhh the glamour! The week brought some health challenges, but there is nothing like music to heal, lift and help one RISE!
A particularly memorable night in Santiago was had at Aquí Está Coco. I usually hibernate before shows and don’t do anything social, but I wanted to partake in the amazing food Chile has to offer… and I wasn’t disappointed!
FINALLY, after what seemed like an eternity (26 years and some months!) the “Hit Parade Side Show” at Blondie was upon us! In the US we do not know of this concept but, I decided early on this show would be a one of a kind intimate experience for TRUE #DEBHEADS! I knew after seeing the two videos made for me by the Fan Facebook/Twitter Group, now lovingly known as the South American Seven AKA #SouthAmerican7 (oooooh…documentary anyone?!? I just got chills!), I wanted to do something extra special for them. And, by communing intimately with them, it also represented ALL fans, which may not ever have the opportunity to be up close and personal with their favorite artist. I know when Elton and Billy invited me on stage, even though I already had records out, the fan in me was beside myself!
I opened the show with some upbeat songs like “Proud Mary” and “Anything Is Possible,” which would not be performed at Movistar Arena. I wanted this show to be EXCLUSIVE! After a little while, I showed the video tribute and brought the #SouthAmerican7, Ariel, Brian, Carlos, Fernando, Gabriel, Gaby, and Mariano, on stage gathered around the piano on stools. I began chatting with them and taking in their extraordinary love for me, and the music, and was overwhelmed. I truly felt like they, and the entire crowd was in my living room. In the emotion of the moment I kept mixing up Ariel and Fernando…what can I say? I was a Blondie at Blondie! LOL
But, I enjoyed the spontaneity of it all and surprised myself by taking some requests like “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and a piece of a new song called “Calle,” an impromptu request by my boyfriend Rutledge, inspired by the roads of Ecuador and the idea we all have our own road to follow in life that is uniquely ours. It was a terrifying and exhilarating moment to debut that song!
The most emotional moment came when I performed “For Better or Worse” for Fernando who lost the love of his life Laura exactly 12 years ago on the day of the concert. Seeing the emotion come over him was something I will never forget. This song was also requested by Ariel and a few others and moved me because it was never a big hit back home. I always said even though a handful of people bought the “Think With Your Heart” album, the impact it made on folks is priceless. I credit Brian Koppleman with exec producing this album at a time where no one wanted to see me do this kind of music. It is a priceless gift he flew to the UK when I was there doing “Grease” to say, “Let me here your new songs…just you and the piano. THIS is your unique gift and I want to help you make this album….” Was it worth it Laura? Fernando? YES!
I went on to ask the band to improv a different more acoustic version of “Out of the Blue” as well as “Should’ve Been the One” and “We Could Be Together“! THAT took me back having all of you on stage with me like I used to do on the EY Tour! WHAT FUN!
Photo credit: Caique Cunha
After the show I met the South American Seven (#SouthAmerican7)! I presented them with small gifts and then one by one they proceeded to present me each with the most thoughtful personal gifts ever. My career used to be a blur. So much passed me by. I am determined from this point on to take every moment in and savor it and not always be rushing off somewhere.
Boy did I sleep hard!!! I awoke and went off to sound check at Movistar Arena for Hit Parade! I am at once at home in small clubs as I am in large arenas. It just feels like a BIGGER living room!
The band and sound were ROCKIN’ and I had only 3 minutes to go over “1989,” the piece of the new song I would be debuting that night. Whew!
I went back to the hotel and napped and meditated – something I do daily. I know how much energy I expend at night so I keep bringing the energy inward and resting down and picturing the individuals who are attending the show and how much they saved up for that ticket and how long they have waited for this show. I take that and the fans VERY seriously and make the vow always to SHOW UP with ALL I AM! You can never predict if things will go wrong, if the voice will fault (though I have come to learn that when it does it is a unique and beautiful imperfectly perfect thing) but I CAN be sure whatever I have to offer that moment… I will give it ALL to the people.
My Mama Diane found this exquisite dress for me to wear for “Hit Parade!”
Nothing is more petrifying to me than delivering a ballad before dancing and burning off some of the adrenal stored up. BUT, I thought it would be unique and strong and surprising to come out with NO fanfare or bells and whistles and open on a new song that feels like a reflective look back, but is essentially about the fact that if one is truly present in their own life, every moment is NOW and there is no part… or “rewind”… it is STILL our time… 1989.
“1989” is symbolic of the fact who we are and what others mean to us, or what music means to us, etc., is TIMELESS! I had tweaked some lyrics to truncate the storyline and some were delivered as I wanted…others not…but I went out on a limb and then launched into the upbeat familiar songs like “Shake Your Love” and a new version of “Foolish Beat“! I loved doing the rip away costume reveal and had that mini dress specially made with colors that, to me, reflected the joy and vitality of South America!
I did a costume change while my team brought the house down with “Don’t Stop Believing.” From Ray Garcia’s first soaring notes the crowd was on its feet! I loved changing in my dressing room, hearing that the party was still going! I returned to do a slower and deeper version of “Losin’ Myself” that I collaborated with Sturken and Rogers on over half my lifetime ago. Only now did I feel I could TRULY embody the meaning of that song. I have lived some life and am not a little girl playing “dress up.” It was exhilarating to breath new life experience into this lost treasure. And I felt BAD ASS in Gabriel’s custom designed cat suit! SO fun to rock a power kitty suit!
Photo credit: Sergio Cortese
Other highlight for me was performing “Rise.” I love doing something slightly unknown and uplifting, and I was thrilled to be able to perform this with Rutledge in the audience, as he produced and directed the documentary “3 Billion and Counting” and this song was the title track. It is about the indefatigable human spirit. Other highlight was the 80’s Medley. I love letting the audience in on MY influences from one of the best musical eras ever. I even dragged my bare feet THAT much longer while doing the moonwalk in honor of the ONE AND ONLY MJ!!! He lives on whenever we honor him!
Photo credit: Sergio Cortese
I was also SO moved hearing the audience’s overpowering chorus of “Lost in Your Eyes” in English. THAT blew my mind! It never gets old. I did a verse translated by my new pal Juan Carlos Silva from the band Dr. Vena … everything sounds romantic in Spanish!
Photo credit: Sergio Cortese
After the show I got to put my hands in cement to be honored on the Paseo de las Estrellas at Movistar!
I also watched some of Rick’s brilliant show.
I then went to do a meet and greet and, again, lapped up every ounce of the audience members’ love and enthusiasm.
How healing and wonderful. What a gift!
I extended my stay beyond the shows to enjoy a trip to a vineyard brunch with the promoters Alfredo and Jaime, Rick and his lovely wife Lene, Deon Estus (I have long idolized his musicianship!) and the gang.
I then did a brief stay in the heart of the city to meander around and eat at cafes and get the vibe of the people. I LOVE the flavors and influence of Europe as well as Latin America. I am truly at home here.
As I get ready to head back, it is with love in my heart and a lot of humility. As mentioned in the start of this blog, I have been faced with unspoken challenges as of late and it is TRULY on the wings of the PEOPLE OF SOUTH AMERICA that I have been CARRIED over hard to mount hurdles to what will forever remain as a victorious and humbling and moving experience of epic proportions. I cannot wait to return and tour extensively through all of South America…and beyond!
MUCHAS GRACIAS Y BESOS!