There’s no shortage of divas in pop music, but there’s only one Cher.
Not that you need to explain that to her. Self-awareness is one of the singer’s endearing character traits.
"They’re not gonna take my place," Cher said of the Britneys and Beyonces of the world at a 2002 Orlando concert. "But they’re gonna take somebody’s place."
Cher — who returns with her Dressed to Kill Tour (D2K, for short) Friday at Amway Center — isn’t the most technically accomplished vocalist. She owns so many wigs of such kaleidoscopic shades that it’s likely she’s long forgotten her genuine hair color. Her gloriously over-the-top fashion sense has launched the careers of a million drag queens.
And she’s perfectly willing to laugh about it all.
Compared with the current glut of stars more prone to inappropriate Twitter gaffes and self-indulgent reality shows, Cher, who turns 68 on May 20, is a welcome throwback to the 1970s era of TV variety shows. She’s a singer who can tell jokes. A comedian who acts skillfully enough to have earned an Oscar for her role in "Moonstruck" (1987).
And about that voice:
Yeah, you can practically hear the studio auto-tune technology stretching the high notes into place on her 1989 single "If I Could Turn Back Time." What you’re likely to remember more is the extravagantly produced music video featuring the singer astride a cannon on a aircraft carrier.
That’s Cher’s style, at work again.
If you’re a Miley Cyrus fan wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s what you’ve missed:
The early years
Born in 1946 in El Centro, Calif., the former Cherilyn Sarkisian met producer Sonny Bono in Los Angeles in 1962. Eleven years older, Bono helped her land studio gigs, such as singing background vocals for hits by the Ronettes ("Be My Baby") and the Righteous Brothers ("You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’"). The two performers married and started working as a duo, finding little success at first under the stage name Caesar & Cleo.
Cher’s first pop hit was a 1965 cover of ‘s "All I Really Wanna Do." It was followed by "I Got You Babe," the first hit single from Sonny & Cher. The duo released other singles — " Goes On," "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" and "You Better Sit Down Kids" — but their popularity waned by decade’s end.
"The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour" debuted in 1971 and became a prime-time hit on CBS, attracting an audience of more than 30 million viewers in its three-year run and garnering a dozen Emmy nominations.
The couple was a perfect fit for television, where Cher was able to build her acting chops in comedy skits that featured recurring characters such as brassy housewife Laverne, wisecracking waitress Rosa and updated caricatures of Cleopatra and Sadie Thompson.
The TV variety show helped promote such early-’70s hits as "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves," "Half-Breed" and "Dark Lady," classics that are still fixtures on her concert tours.
Dressed in glittering gowns by celebrity designer , Cher poked fun at her husband at the end of each show. Those segments also introduced the world to the couple’s young daughter, Chastity, who would grow up to become transgender gay-rights advocate . The couple divorced in 1975.
In the movies
In the 1980s, Cher became a movie star, scoring roles in "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean," "Silkwood," "Mask," "Suspect," and "The Witches of Eastwick." She won a best-actress Oscar and hard-earned acting credibility for her role as an Italian widow in love with a younger man in the 1987 romantic comedy "Moonstruck."
She continues to act, starring with Christina Aguilera in (2010) and doing voice-over work in the computer-animated comedy "Zookeeper" (2011).
The latter years
Although Cher faded from the pop charts after the 1980s — with the exception of the 1998 monster hit "Believe" — she manages to remain an enduring pop-culture figure.
Two unforgettable images are tied to her ex-husband and duet partner: A 1987 reunion on David Letterman‘s late-night talk-show to sing "I Got You Babe" was sweet. Her tearful eulogy at the memorial service following Bono’s death in a 1998 skiing accident was poignant.
At the least, Cher is a survivor — and an endearing one.
D2K Tour 2014
What: Cher, in concert with opening act Cyndi Lauper
When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 16
Where: Amway Center, 400 W. Church St., Orlando
Online: amwaycenter.comTags: actress, concert, movie, music, producer, release, singer, television, tour, tv