Hearing about the public water crisis in Flint, Mich., made Cher mad as hell. And she’s doing something about it. The singer is teaming with Los Angeles-based Icelandic Glacial to donate 181,440 bottles of water to the city’s residents, which will be distributed by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan starting on Wednesday.
“It was nothing — I mean, it wasn’t nothing because it was so fucking hard to get accomplished, but I felt like I needed to do something,” Cher tells Billboard. “I mean, people have known that the (Flint) river was polluted forever. Why would they go to that as the water source? It’s mind-boggling.”
The largely impoverished Flint has not had clean water for more than a year, and tests have found lead in the city’s water supply that experts say has led to cases of Legionnaires’ disease and are predicting will lead to more long-term health issues. Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who’s under fire for neglecting the growing crisis, has sent in the National Guard to distribute water to citizens and also asked President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency and provide federal aid.
“He’s wearing the wrong kind of pinstripes; they should be going the other way,” Cher says of Snyder, describing a jail uniform. “He’s just trying to save his ass now. He’s only talking now ’cause he’s at the end of his lie rope. It’s such a gigantic problem, and the government is doing the wrong thing.”
Cher first learned about the Flint situation while watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and began researching on her own — including speaking on the phone with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver — and has concluded it’s something of a class issue. Growing up poor herself in Los Angeles, she says that, “Poor people are just left to hang out in the wind. I’m the last person who can say I think a Republican government can do anything right because I just don’t like them, OK? They don’t give a flying whatever about poor people. They just don’t. Poor people can’t do anything. They have no resources. They have no one sticking up for them. And it’s the Democrats, too; there’s so much rancor between the two different (parties) that they spend more time trying to keep each other from getting anything done. Nothing really works in the country, and nothing works for poor people. There will never be any kind of equality until there’s the ground-up kind from nurturing and schooling and just basic things — like water.”
A political independent herself, Cher has campaigned in the past for Hillary Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Al Gore. And she’ll clearly be leaning towards the Democratic side of the fence in the coming year’s presidential campaign.
“Believe whatever you want about Hillary; whatever she is or isn’t, she’s tough,” Cher says. “I don’t like anything about Donald Trump. It’s a joke at a time when you really need serious people. I don’t think he wants the job, or I don’t think he actually wants to do the work. I think he wants the job because it’s the ultimate deal, and he’s the ultimate ego. I don’t know that I’ve heard or seen anybody like him, and I also never thought that Americans would go for someone like him, a person of his quality.”
Cher is hoping her contribution to Flint will spur others into action, including some of her fellow celebrities. “I hope I can do something more,” she says. “I would like if we can form some sort of posse and look at some of the things we can do. Even what rich people can do is so little compared to what needs to be done. I’m doing extensive reading and trying to see what’s possible.”
Cher is also busy on the creative front. She’s currently assembling a team, possibly including veterans of Jersey Boys and Hamilton, to collaborate on a biographical stage musical, and she’s preparing a new line of emojis.
The singer also hopes to get back on the road soon after canceling her Dressed To Kill Tour in 2014 due to health issues. “I’m working on going out,” Cher says. “I just started singing and dancing. My sickness took a real hit on me. It was rough, but I seem to be getting much better.”