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Cher On The Notion Of Career Reinvention: “It’s Stupid”

Source | FastCompany : By RICH BELLIS

When Cher first took to Twitter, she recalls, “it was like, ‘Get off!’ and ‘You’re old!’ and ‘You’re stupid!’”

But she stuck with it, because “I didn’t care. I cared, but not enough to stop.And I think that’s what life is about—that you care but not enough to stop being who you are.”

For the Goddess of Pop, resilience is more important than reinvention. Speaking backstage on Tuesday at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, I pointed out that a lot of her best-loved songs are kiss-off anthems and self-affirming ballads about bouncing back. “That’s been my life,” she interjects.

“My road has been a bumpy road,” says Cher. “It’s like, ‘She’s great, she’s shit, she’s a has-been, she’s reinvented herself’—it’s stupid! I’ve always been who I am since I was born.”

That’s a simple yet compelling idea in an era when we’re paradoxically instructed to strive for “authenticity” all while changing continuously—whether it’s our habits, skill sets, or even our careers. Get straight with who you are, Cher seemed to suggest, and the rest is just dogged perseverance.


“We became Sonny and Cher very quickly,” she later told a packed house at NYU’s Skirball Center, “and just as quickly we became small ‘s,’ small ‘c’”—’sonny and cher.'”

It was 1969, and cheery pop tunes of the “I Got You Babe” variety (1965) were falling out of vogue. Imperial Records dropped her, and an indie movie that Sonny wrote and directed and Cher starred in flopped. “We owed the government about $270,000,” Cher recalled, “which we couldn’t pay, and we [had] just had Chaz, and we went out on the road and we went to these nightclubs, and people hated us. We played two shows a night and the second show no one came, but the bosses made you play even if like four people came.”

For a while, Cher says, “it was dismal. We dressed in a very strange way when we weren’t working . . . [so] we couldn’t get a job on TV—we were too weird.”

Before long, dressing in a strange way became Cher’s signature. CBS picked up The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour as summertime filler in 1971, then made it a regular program. The next year, Bob Mackie began designing Cher’s iconic ensembles, kicking off a partnership that would go on to last more than four decades.

“He decided that I would be the perfect kind of Barbie doll for him,” she says. “He gave me that super-chic, naked, sexy kind of look. That everyone’s doing now.”

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