Ciara’s hips don’t lie. And when the singer with the killer dance moves, impossible abs and never-ending legs promises a night to remember on her second visit to the UAE, to perform at the Atelier/Festival in Dubai this Friday, you can’t help but believe her.
“You can expect the energy level to be 10 times crazier than what I do,” she says, speaking over the phone from New York where she is filming a TV show. “Honestly, I just want to go and have fun with my fans in Dubai. For me it’s all about making the experience as personal and as interactive as possible.”
This year marks a return to the musical limelight for the Texas-born singer who first broke through in 2004 with her debut album ‘Goodies,’ which sold more than three million copies in the US alone. Four albums later, and following a two-year break after 2010’s ‘Basic Instinct’ to focus on her fledgling movie career (she made her debut in That’s My Boy with Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg), Ciara says her One Woman Army, set for release before the end of the year, is an evolution of sorts — about her being wiser and stronger.
“I started doing this when I was really young,” she says. “Having to put out an album so early makes you mature so much faster and it conditions you to be a bit more aggressive. You really become a woman.”
Ciara was only 14 when producer and now TV star LA Reid signed her to his LaFace Records, and 18 when her chart-topping debut album was released. Through her following albums, which have seen her collaborate with everyone from Missy Elliott and Bow Wow to Enrique Iglesias, she has proven her adroit ability of being able to straddle both hard core R&B and pop. Or as she puts it, music with a grimy edge and a pop edge.
Now, at 26, she says her fifth album shows an emotional maturity and goes places she has not been before.
“It was a lot to take in all at once. I am just now understanding it all,” she says. “The journey has been a very fun and eventful one and it’s really been a journey of me learning a lot personally professionally. I’ve had a fun time along the way. I’ve been able to have a better understanding of where I stand in the world and how I look at things as a woman. I think the biggest difference is clarity and also my confidence has grown tremendously and I am able to be more sure of what I do.”
Interestingly, the first video released off her new album is a ballad, ‘Sorry.’ This coming from a woman whose video for Ride from her last album was so sexy it was banned by some TV stations in the US.
“What I’m doing for my first single launch is the non traditional way,” she explains. “I’m doing two singles: ‘Sorry’ is single 1a and single 1b is ‘Got me good’, which is the one that’s going to give you the dance, the vibe. That record is coming too.
“’Sorry’ just felt organic. It felt right to make that my single 1a. But single 1b also completes the full story of the start of the launch. The record is filled with so much great material. It is also very diverse and I want you to be able to hear all sides of it. So you have your balance from the slow to the tempo. It’s got both worlds.”
Her emotionally stripped down lyrics in songs like ‘Boy Outta Here’ reflect her past romantic tribulations and the lessons she’s learnt, she says. Ciara dated rapper Bow Wow and she’s continued to dodge rumours about a history with 50 Cent, who she is incidentally sharing the stage with at the festival.
“[This album] is also one of the best ways to describe where I am with love and what I would want for being in love,” she says in her official notes for One Woman Army.
The album also marks Ciara’s coming back together with Reid, who signed her for her first album.
“I’ve learned so much from him,” she says of the executive and X Factor US judge. “He’s someone that I respect tremendously. His passion never changes no matter how long he’s been doing it and he seems to always thrive with more new energy and to me that’s very inspiring.”
On whether or not she’d ever be seen as a judge on a reality singing show a la Reid, she says she is open to possibilities.
“It’s funny. I used to say no. but I think if it’s the right situation I’m open minded to it. I’m just not one of those judges that can be really hard on the contestants. That’s the thing I will struggle with. It’s hard to tell people harsh things and give them strong opinion that may effect their feelings. That’s a very hard thing to do.”
One thing she hasn’t struggled with though, is with those dance moves and keeping that amazing body in prime condition.
“I have an amazing choreographer that I have been with for years and whom I work very closely with. We just get into the room and express ourselves — it’s team work. And my gym trainer helps me in keeping me going and my stamina consistent.”
Already a fan of Dubai, she says she’s going to try and find the time this time round to do some dune bashing.
“I wanted to travel around the city and also ride a camel,” she says. “I am extremely excited. It’s such a beautiful place and also being able to perform and rock with the fans will top the trip.”
*Tickets to Atelier/Festival on October 19 featuring Ciara, 50 Cent, Duffy, Nelly, Craig David, SkyBlu from LMFAO, Eva Simons and DJ Antoine are still available. Tickets priced at Dh350 (Standard), Dh700 (VIP) and Dh1,250 (Platinum) are available on platinumlist.net.