Cyndi Lauper still very unusual

Singer Cyndi Lauper is working on a 30th anniversary edition of She's So Unusual, the debut album that shot her to fame.

Cyndi Lauper, the spunky, rainbow-haired singer behind some of the 1980s' biggest pop anthems, is not one to sit quietly and bask in past glories.

The past year has been one of the busiests periods in her professional life. Fans can see that for themselves in her reality television show, Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual, which is now showing on WE TV (SingTel mio TV Channel 259) every Thursday night.

"I love TV and reality TV afforded me the opportunity to document all the things that went on this year. And it was a pretty huge year for anybody because I had a memoir, I worked on a musical, I did tours and shows, and I did the reality show. It's a big year," says the singer of 1980s hits such as Girls Just Want To Have Fun, True Colours and Time After Time.

She was talking to Life! in a telephone interview from Australia, where she was on tour.

In June, the 59-year-old Grammy winner made history by being the first woman to pick up Best Original Score at the 2013 Tony Awards for her solo work on multi-award-winning musical Kinky Boots, based on the 2005 film about a shoemaker and a drag queen.

In September last year, she released Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir, a 352-page book that chronicles her personal life and showbiz career.

As a civic activist, she is co-founder of The True Colors Fund, a charity body that helps homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.

Her 12-episode series follows not just her going about her daily work, but also at home with her husband of 22 years, Law & Order actor David Thornton, 60, and their 16-year-old son, Declyn Wallace.

"It's interesting and comical, but we try to still keep our family together even though we don't have a normal kind of household at all," she says.

Lauper, whose 1983 album She's So Unusual became the first debut from a female artist to chart four Top 5 hits on the Billboard charts, says while she got used to having a camera crew follow her around, there were moments when she would instruct the crew to stop filming. One of those moments, she reveals, happened while she was a guest singer in an episode of reality television singing show The Voice.

"I really needed to relax and you can't relax with a camera in your face. I really had to regain my voice so that I could sing on the TV show and do a good job."

1 Did you have to convince your husband to be part of the reality television show?

Yes, my husband is a real actor, not a reality show guy. So those guys need a script, they need a character they are playing. And the producers were like, "Well, basically play yourself", but it's actually a character because you have to know what part you're playing in this. Then, he actually sat down and started talking, and all of a sudden he was comfortable and it was easy. That's how it rolls sometimes.

2 Were there any concerns about your teenage son's life being in the spotlight on the show?

I like being with my son and I kind of always included my family in a lot of stuff I did. And this was another opportunity to include my family, but we just worried a little if that was the smart thing to do with him.

He's very clever with computers and I wanted him to be able to see that there are many opportunities for him to not just be in front of the camera but also behind the camera.

The year before, he was editing. He knew how to do (video-editing software) Final Cut and I wanted him to see that and be part of that.

3 Are you strict with him?

He has rules but we also listen. You can't make your kid do what you want, you have to look at who he is and try to help him succeed in the world as who he is and, yeah, he has rules.

When one of us is home, he tries to play one against the other, so I got savvy with that one and now my husband and I talk to each other first.

Like, the parent who is at home is in charge; he can't overthrow the one in the house at the time.

4 Does he have any musical talent like you or does he prefer acting like his father?

He loves hockey. He's played it most of his life. And is he natural with music? Absolutely. Does he want to do it? I don't know. All I do know is you can't push anything on anybody. When you start pushing, that's when they don't do it at all.

5 How do you feel about the success of Kinky Boots?

I knock wood all the time and I just think how blessed we are. I got to work with my friends, and you always work a long time on something but you never know if it's going to be successful.

And the fact that it is as successful as it is is so great, it's such a gift.

It's also about something too. It has a humanity to it, the story is great, the people, the performers are great. There is an evolution that goes on in the show and the music, I try to make it as catchy and rhythmic as I could, because the director is a choreographer.

6 Will there be more musicals for you?

Yeah, absolutely, but it's got to be a great story, something that you are going to work 41/2 years on. And you're going to be with the people for a long time, so you have to like them, and know the story, and be able to write well in it.

7 Are you working on any new music?

I'm not working on anything right now, I have to take a break. I have been doing the 30th anniversary of She's So Unusual. It was postponed again to come out next February, so it's 301/2 years. And I will go through the demos and put them on so that people will see how it developed. The record itself has become so iconic.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

For my music and for never giving up.

dinohadi@sph.com.sg

Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual is now showing on WE TV (SingTel mio TV Channel 259) every Thursday at 11pm.


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