Dues Paid, Anastacia Reapproaches U.S.

Having recently returned from a whirlwind promotional blitz of Europe, where she is a bona fide pop star, Chicago-born/New York-raised Anastacia now has her eyes firmly set on America, where commercia

Having recently returned from a whirlwind promotional blitz of Europe, where she is a bona fide pop star, Chicago-born/New York-raised Anastacia now has her eyes firmly set on America, where commercial success has, for whatever reason, eluded her.

"We're doing it properly this time around," says Anastacia, referring to her sophomore set, "Freak of Nature," due June 18 from Daylight/Epic. "We're launching it the way we did in other countries, with enough lead time for listening parties and the press. This didn't necessarily happen with my first album ["Not That Kind"], which came out a year after its European release, and without much fanfare at that."

Since its release overseas last November, "Freak of Nature" has topped many charts and sold more than 3 million copies while spawning two hit singles ("Paid My Dues" and "One Day in Your Life") in the process. Between the two albums, Anastacia has amassed worldwide sales of more than 10 million units, making her one of Sony Music's biggest-selling artists.

Along the way, she has scored numerous platinum discs and awards, including best new artist (World Music Awards), best pop artist (MTV Europe Awards), and best female artist (Echo Awards). She's also responsible for "Boom," the official song of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

"There's a strong tradition in Europe for blue-eyed soul music," notes David Massey, senior VP of A&R at Epic and founder of Daylight. "Anastacia is perceived as this incredible soul singer with enough pop edge to resonate in countries where English isn't the primary language. And her larger-than-life personality definitely keeps people interested."

From an artistic standpoint, "Freak of Nature" shows incredible growth. "I knew I had changed, my zone of music, me understanding who I am as an artist, everything," explains Anastacia, who co-wrote all the songs on the album (which features production by Ric Wake, Louis Biancaniello, Sam Watters, and Richie Jones). "With the new album, there's more clarity in the music. My first album was a bit more musically all over the place. This time around, I challenged myself more, both musically and lyrically."

A spunky mix of pop, rock, R&B, and dance, "Freak of Nature" is home to such catchy songs as "Paid My Dues," "Overdue Goodbye," "You'll Never Be Alone," "One Day in Your Life," "Why'd You Lie to Me," and "How Come the World Won't Stop." Special to the U.S. version is new song "I Thought I Told You That," a powerful sister-to-sister, hip-hop-spiked duet featuring Faith Evans.

Anastacia acknowledges that such tunes are primarily autobiographical. The buoyant "Overdue Goodbye" is about saying "hello," being in love, and then waving goodbye. "It was a choice I had to make," she offers. "And a beautiful song came out of it. Even though I'm saying goodbye in the lyrics, the song is very uplifting. In my world, the glass is never half-empty; it's always half-full."

"'Paid My Dues,' " Anastacia continues, "is very much about the music industry. For years, I had been told my voice was too black, that I should get contacts and ditch the glasses, that I was too in-your-face, the list goes on. Now, these are the very things that people respond to."

The set's first U.S. single, "One Day in Your Life," is about living life to its fullest in the face of suffering. The artist notes, "At the end of the day, it's about learning what you need to learn and also realizing that karma is a m.f."

Remixes of the track by Hex Hector & Mac Quayle, Eric Kupper, Almighty, and M*A*S*H were sent to club and mix-show DJs. On the visual front, the label is sending the song's Dave Meyers-directed video to VH1, MTV, and MTV2, as well as to fitness clubs, boutiques, and other lifestyle accounts.

A full-scale global tour, with a band, is being planned for early next year. All this activity brings a smile to the face of Anastacia, who knows and appreciates what hard work can bring. "I will work my butt off to make this album happen in the U.S.," she says. "But I can't control how radio and TV receives me. I only pray they understand where I'm coming from as an artist. I'm not that deep, I'm not that mysterious. Don't try to figure me out. I'm a very open book. What you see is what you get."

Excerpted from the June 1, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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