Entertainment & Arts

Cher returns for another encore

Image caption Cher is going on the road again but plans to take it slow this time because she says the three-and-half-year tour she did before 'almost killed me'

Cher, one of the world's most enduring and versatile performers, is returning to the limelight after a decade-long break from recording. The legendary singer, known for her flamboyant outfits and ever-changing hair, is releasing a new album and planning to tour again.

When we met in Santa Monica, California, Cher was as Cher-like as you could imagine - a classy three hours late and dressed to the nines. She was upbeat, introspective and as honest as they come.

Closer To The Truth is Cher's first studio release since Living Proof in 2002. The first single, Woman's World, a dance track produced and co-written by DJ Paul Oakenfold, is already a club hit.

But the singer's return to touring has come as a surprise. It is 11 years since she embarked on The Farewell Tour, a global extravaganza that was later renamed The Never Can Say Goodbye Tour, as it became clear that Cher was in no mood to give it up. The tour was extended several times and ended up completing a record breaking 326 dates.

Looking back, the singer says she was convinced that it was a final farewell.

"I really thought it was," she says. "It didn't seem like I had anything else to say."

Image caption Pink has influenced the mix in style of tracks on the new album

But, at the age of 67, she has had a change of heart.

The new album features two songs written by Pink and is an eclectic mix of dance tracks, ballads and even country. The album's title, which Cher says she likes because it is "ambiguous," comes from one of Pink's songs, Walk Alone.

But Cher says: "If I had thought about it longer, I would have called it, Dressed To Kill, because it seems more appropriate."

The new music has persuaded Cher that she should hit the road again.

"When you have something new to say or new to sing, then it makes the idea of going on tour more reasonable."

But she is not relishing the prospect of travelling.

"I did a tour for three-and-a-half years and it almost killed me," she says. "There's a finite amount of energy that I have. It's pretty boundless, but it's still not endless.

"I know if I don't do it now, I'll never do it. I'm not going to do that many dates to begin with to see if I am still up for this."

Cher's apparent reluctance to leap back into the spotlight, defines a performer who seems to have been more comfortable with her life as it was two decades ago. Today, she says, it is not as much fun.

"It's fine, it's good, I can't complain," she says. But she adds: "I wish I was younger, it was a lot easier."

Cher's career started when she was 17. She found fame in the 1960s as one half of the comedy and singing duo, Sonny and Cher.

Married to Sonny Bono for 11 years, the pair enjoyed success with their own TV show and their signature song, I Got You Babe.

Image caption Cher enjoyed the professional side to her relationship with Sonny Bono but the marriage was not so great

"Working with him was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life.

"Being married to him was not that fabulous, but working with him and being with him, we had so much fun. He was such an idiot and he made me laugh all the time. I think we shouldn't have been married, but it was endless fun."

After the couple split in 1975, Cher moved on to a hugely successful solo career, with a string of hits, movies, and sell out shows around the world.

"It was easier years ago for a number of reasons. I had a lot more freedom," she says.

"There was no 24-hour news, there were no cell phones. You could come and go as you pleased and now it is much more difficult, because everyone has Instagram and Facebook and Twitter.

"I could ride my motorcycle around and nobody would follow me or take pictures. I could go dancing and dance forever. Now I've just got to be prepared to have sweaty pictures [of me] everywhere.

"Maybe I long for a time where everything wasn't a reality show and you had to do something to become famous. That's the old timer in me," she says.

But Cher, who regularly tweets with her fans, admits social media has afforded her a new sense of freedom.

"I enjoy it, it is fun," she says.

"I'm old enough not to worry about how many people there are or if I say the wrong thing, because many times I say absolutely the wrong thing. But you know, I can just do it and I don't care."

As for growing old, the singer says she does not pay much attention to the passing years and she puts the longevity of her career down to "luck".

"I don't know how it feels to be old really. I asked my mom and she is 87 and she's not sure what it fees like either."

Image caption Cher is now at ease with her son Chaz's sexuality

As a mother herself, Cher says she is now on good terms with her transgendered son, Chaz. But it was a difficult process for the singer to accept her child's sexuality.

"You wouldn't think it, but I think I knew Chaz was gay way before anybody else, when she was young. I think of Chaz in the past as a she. Chaz is now definitely a he.

"I didn't take it well and I don't know why exactly, there were many reasons, but none of them were valid."

The singer, who has legions of gay fans around the world, says it is "about time" that America finally embraced gay marriage.

"Everyone is guaranteed the pursuit of happiness," she says. "In America you are supposed to be able to enjoy certain freedom and it doesn't infringe upon anything. And you can't tell people not to be who they are. If I have learned anything, and the thing with Chaz has made it much more definitive, people have got to be who they are, always."

As she heads out on the road again, Cher is also definitive about the fact that this will be her last tour.

"I won't be doing this forever for sure," she says.

But the singer insists she will be around for a while - she has "a million" things she wants to do, including more acting.

"I have dreams to fulfil that I haven't even dreamt yet - there's no end to ideas, there's no end to things you want to do.

"I like creating and I can't see stopping creating."

Closer To The Truth is released in the UK on 24 September.

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