Queen? Bah. The Dutchess Visits Virginia
The quiet, suburban stillness of Fairfax County's Fair Oaks Mall -- a sleepy melange of Ann Taylor, Gap, Hollister and Cheesecake Factory -- was popped Tuesday afternoon by Fergie (aka Fergie Ferg, aka Stacy Ann Ferguson) -- sometime Black Eyed Peas frontwoman and self-proclaimed "Dutchess." She of the humps (you know, the "lovely lady lumps"); she who has coined the eponymous adjective Fergalicous.
And so it was that I found myself watching quizzically from backstage as Fergie led a frantic crowd of tweeners in an enthusiastic chant of "If you ain't got no money take your broke ass home" at the Fair Oaks Verizon store, just upstairs from H&M and a latte's throw from Caribou Coffee.
In the midst of a cross-country tour ("It's so nice to be accepted where you're from," said Ferguson), Ferguson is also making a handful of in-store appearances for tour sponsor Verizon. Which explains why the chart-topping popster shoehorned her touring band and a small complement of back-up dancers into an unassuming cell phone store, where about 100 lucky fans competed with accessory display cases for floor space and another 700 waited on line outside for a non-personalized autograph.
Ferguson owned the room from the minute she stepped up to the mike, quickly running through a three-song set that included the aforementioned "Fergilicious," "Glamorous" and her newest single, the treacly ballad "Big Girls Don't Cry." Using chops she's been honing since her early days as a pre-teen performer on "Kids Incorporated" (check out this clip of her earnestly belting out Lionel Richie's "Say You Say Me" to a scary clown brandishing a broom), Ferguson nailed the live set. Even somewhat jaded Celebritologists naturally predisposed to disliking this sort of thing were hard-pressed to criticize the solid performance.
So sue me.
In an interview prior to the performance, Ferguson talked about life as a solo Pea, boyfriend Josh Duhamel and her busy schedule. And, no, I didn't ask her if "Dutchess" is a thinly veiled reference to ganja.
Read the Q&A after the jump...
Liz: How's the tour going so far?
The tour's amazing. It's surprisingly going very smoothly.
Liz: Where were you before this?
In Philly. Touring America is great. This is my home country. I've been all around the world but it's nice to be accepted where you're from.
Liz: Are you touring with any opening acts?
Yes, a great band -- Rooney. Very good musicians, very cool. It was nice to have something completely different. This tour I wanted to be more intimate since it is my first solo tour. I didn't want to take it granted that I was in the Black Eyed Peas and play the big venues. I wanted to get my feet wet and start from the beginning as a solo artist because it's a different beast. We [the Black Eyed Peas] just came off touring arenas and you really don't get to know the people. So I want to get to re-know them in this way.
The songs are more personal, a lot of them.
Liz: I noticed your band setting up and saw acoustic guitars and even a flute. Will we be hearing Fergie unplugged today?
No, I do have background tracks but I will be singing live -- the whole thing. We just try to bring as good of a show as we can to a store venue. I definitely prefer bands to tracks.
Liz: So is Josh [Duhamel] traveling with you?
No, but he was in Philly. He came to see my show last night for the first time.
Liz: So what's next?
Well, I'm booked all year on the solo tour. All solo stuff until the end of the year when the Black Eyed Peas go on a 15-country world tour.
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