Known for her unique, bold voice, Chicago-born singer Anastacia was at the height of her career in the early 2000s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer — twice. Despite having to take a break from singing and cancel tours and performances (including the Dubai World Cup, where she was supposed to perform in 2014), the 48-year-old singer of hits such as I’m Outta Love, One Day in Your Life and Left Outside Alone, has never let her health get her down and is now promoting a positive attitude to cancer. On a recent visit to Dubai to perform at the Global Gift Gala — an initiative hosted by Eva Longoria on the sidelines of the Dubai International Film Festival — she sat down with Friday to tell us about her recent charity work, and getting back into the studio.
You’re here for the Global Gift Gala, which helps millions of children around the world. Is this something that is close to your heart?
Absolutely. I’ve always been quite interested in wanting to make a difference. My brother is disabled, so children’s needs have always been quite a big part of my life, as I grew up with it. Because of that I can understand, in part, the help that people need and the importance of helping children in particular. On one of my albums, I wrote a song called Secrets to tell kids not to keep them because they are dangerous. Children are our future so it’s really important that we get the best for them we possibly can.
Have you been involved in any of the projects the charity is working on?
I help Global Gift Gala with a lot of its events and activations related to breast cancer and it also works with me on events for my charity The Anastacia Fund. It also honoured me last year for my humanitarian work.
You have battled breast cancer twice and beaten it, which is absolutely incredible. What’s your message to women who are having similar experiences?
Cancer is such a scary word but what I tell people is to look at the first three letters of the word: CAN. You need to take the fear that is associated with the word cancer away and think of ‘can’. You CAN do anything and you CAN beat this. The next step is to surround yourself with people you love and always be positive. The positivity will affect your recovery.
Has the illness given you a different outlook on life?
Yes, it gave me a positive outlook on life. You can’t let illness or anything for that matter get you down or it won’t help your recovery. Being positive about everything is the key to a happy life.
You’ve had a lot of health problems in your life but you’ve picked yourself up and carried on – what has kept you going through the bad times?
I think it is about humour and again, positivity. Those two things together have me up when I’m feeling down and got me through everything. Yes, you will have low times, but you need to not take life too seriously and live for the good moments.
You have worked as a judge on a number of talent shows and even started your career on a similar show yourself. Do you think this is a good way for aspiring artists to get into the industry?
I think it was a good way, I don’t know if I would say that these days it is, because it has become more entertainment than looking for the raw talent. However, I think there will be new shows launching that are going to be more about real music coming in the future.
Your songs are possibly some of the catchiest pop songs of all time. Do you have a feeling about whether a song is going to be a hit before the release?
No! I have good feelings that I like songs but I don’t know if I can pick a hit. Sometimes things can be random and you never really know why it has become so popular. I put it down to luck.
You voice is listed up there with the likes of Céline Dion, Shakira and Mariah Carey. Who is your inspiration?
As a child I listened to Barbra Streisand. Even though I don’t sound any thing like her I really admire her beauty and humour and her persona. I wanted to sound like her growing up, in fact I wanted to sound like all the people you mentioned, but my voice has a very different tone to all of them.
What can we expect to see from you in 2017?
I am working on a new album, which will come out in September, as well as a single in July. I have also just released a live album that I made from recommendations of the fans. I asked them what they would like me to sing that they’ve never heard me sing before and after they voted through an app, I chose the most popular and recorded them for an album.
What was it like to record a fully live album?
Well, it was very different. Every song had one take so you have to get it right. It’s different to anything I’ve done before but I’m really pleased with it – I think I’m doing the right job!
Anastacia’s live album A 4 App is available to download now on iTunes.