BOGGED DOWN, DISCOURAGED and slapped in the face, Anastacia has lived through it all. The 29-year-old singer has faced personal hardship and professional scrutiny throughout her life. Taking the setbacks in stride, the Chicago native is now having the last laugh with a singing career that is about to turn her into the decade’s first new diva.
Much has been written about Anastacia’s charismatic and exuberating personality. She is bold, self-confident, and never holds back from emphasizing her female independence. Like Cher and Madonna before her, Anastacia’s fierce persona and empowering, positive music provide a natural turn-on for a gay audience. No wonder she is quickly becoming a true gay icon with lots of video bar and dance floor play.
Anastacia recently released her sophomore album, "Freak Of Nature" (Epic, 2002), a collection of 13 songs that combine her love for dance, R&B and rock. The album is a follow-up to her 1999 smash debut "Not That Kind," which sold platinum numbers in Europe, but hardly got her noticed on her home turf outside of her dance hit "I'm Outta Love."
Raised in New York City, Anastacia is no stranger to struggle. Her father deserted his three children early on, and her mother was burdened to raise them on her own while working full time. The singer encountered another major personal setback at age 13 when she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, an ongoing, chronic inflammation of the intestines. She is still on a strict regimen of daily medication to suppress the illness. Her mother, a musical actress on Broadway, was a major inspiration for her to pursue a career in entertainment.
Initially, Anastacia performed as a dancer in music videos, but she got her big break in 1999 when she appeared on the MTV talent show "The Cut." She gained the attention of Sony Music's Epic Records, which signed her for her first major recording contract, leading to the release of her first album.
ANASTACIA CALLS HERSELF a "freak of nature" since many believe that the way she looks doesn’t match the way she sounds. Standing only 5-foot-3, Anastacia has impressive vocal capabilities. Her timbre is raw, soulful, and compares favorably with a young Aretha Franklin and Chaka Kahn, as well as Donna Summer at some of the more dancey tunes.
Her vocal virtuosity blossoms on tracks such as "Don’t Stop (Doin’ It)" and "I Dreamed You," when the singer is not restrained by musical arrangements and can let it all out. On the album’s poppy songs, such as radio and MTV hit "One Day in Your Life," she seems to be hindered by the cookie-cutter, melodic format, which compromises her singing liberty.
A key ingredient in Anastacia’s music is her declaration of independence and originality. The Anastacia gospel is well summarized on "Paid My Dues": "I’ve been knocked down/ But there ain’t nuttin’ in the world that keep me from doin’ what I wanna do/ Cos I’m too proud, too strong/ I live by the code that you gotta move on, feeling sorry for yourself ain’t got nobody nowhere."
This album goes beyond the much-repeated adult pop formula by mixing up a range of different musical styles -- from catchy R&B ("Thought I Told You That," featuring Faith Evans), to rock ("Don'tcha Wanna") to showing off her sensitive side on tear-jerking power ballads, such as the beautiful semi-acoustic "How Come The World Won’t Stop."
Anastacia shines on "Freak of Nature," making this one of the most tuneful pop albums of the year. She has truly put her heart and soul into the music, moving listeners with her infectious melodies and uplifting lyrics.