FERGIE

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Our favourite pop star has guts, grit and fiercely gor­geous tresses! Here she talks life, love and how she’s crank­ing up the vol­ume again.

Among those gaz­ing at Fergie with ad­mi­ra­tion dur­ing her cover shoot is the ac­tor Josh Duhamel (who likes to re­fer to his wife of seven years as The Fergs) and, cra­dled in her arms, is her son Axl Jack, who has a great deal in com­mon with his mother be­sides his blonde wavy hair and stylish wardrobe. The bright lights of the stu­dio, the ado­ra­tion of the strangers – they are wel­come to both.

The singer dances to the back­ground music – a waltz – which could be seen as a sign of her evo­lu­tion. Fergie, 41, is in the mid­dle of a cal­i­brated come­back – care­ful, ex­haus­tive and painstak­ing: one that be­gan in earnest just af­ter her son’s first birth­day. Al­though her group, The Black Eyed Peas, re­leased al­bums in 2009 and 2010, and per­formed at the 2011 Su­per Bowl in the US, it’s been over nine years since Fergie’s solo al­bum The Dutchess, which sold 3.9 mil­lion copies.

In the in­terim, there’s been no short­age of newer, younger tal­ents to step into Fergie’s stilet­tos. Iggy Aza­lea and Nicki Mi­naj are among them – about whom Fergie says as lit­tle as pos­si­ble ex­cept to point out that “healthy com­pe­ti­tion is al­ways good… I don’t think that

peo­ple ever need to be pit­ted against one other.”

Mother­hood, fairly or un­fairly, hasn’t tra­di­tion­ally been linked with re­bel­lion, heat or throb­bing sex­ual in­nu­endo – all of them Fergie’s trade­marks. In­deed, the ar­rival of young Axl (named af­ter the mu­si­cian Axl Rose be­cause she was dream­ing of him at the pre­cise mo­ment her baby first kicked inside her) ba­si­cally kept Fergie at home in Cal­i­for­nia.

“Did I feel some sort of pres­sure to come back out?” Fergie asks. Yes, in fact she did. “I felt that it was ei­ther go­ing to be another baby or another al­bum,” Fergie ex­plains. She wanted to pro­duce some­thing. “And I had to de­cide which one first.” It was the al­bum.

There cer­tainly is an un­de­ni­able sweet­ness to Fergie, a readi­ness and a de­sire to please that be­lie that last dis­mis­sive re­sponse. Fergie is friendly, al­most bub­bly, and her face, with its green eyes and wide mouth, is in­trigu­ingly in­no­cent, which is at odds with the earthy tough­ness that of­ten emerges from her lips.

In or­der to un­der­stand Fergie now, you must un­der­stand Stacy Fer­gu­son, as she was once known then. A child ac­tress from the age of nine, Stacy, as her par­ents dis­cov­ered, was prac­ti­cally born to en­ter­tain – and part of en­ter­tain­ing, she knew from the start, was to be a peo­ple pleaser, a role she as­sumed “by na­ture”, Fergie ex­plains. As her ca­reer evolved, she was de­ter­mined “not to be con­fronta­tional”.

She found she couldn’t quar­rel with a di­rec­tor or a fel­low ac­tor. Pro­fes­sional sub­mis­sion would be her hall­mark, and not sim­ply while she was young. Even at 41, she ad­mits that she still strug­gles. “I have a prob­lem say­ing no in my ca­reer when they just want to pile things on. I’ve had to be strong, stand up for my­self and ex­press when I’m not OK. It’s a con­stant work in progress for me.”

The only two peo­ple young Stacy man­aged to rebel against were her par­ents. “Well, there were a cou­ple of gang­sters that – I don’t know if you’d call them dates – I had re­la­tions with in

high school… def­i­nitely some heavy pet­ting go­ing on!” she says.

Gang­ster boyfriends? Like guys with guns and knives?

“Yeah.” She thinks about that one a bit. “My dad wasn’t happy about that at all, es­pe­cially as he was a high school foot­ball coach,” she says. “The guys that he was hav­ing to dis­ci­pline, those were ex­actly the ones that I was at­tracted to and wanted to fall for.”

Once Fergie left high school, she em­barked on her mu­si­cal ca­reer with fierce de­ter­mi­na­tion and a very strong will. At 21, she was singing what she calls “bub­blegum” pop music with a girl group called Wild Orchid. She ac­knowl­edges that for years she was in­ca­pable of bow­ing out of the group be­cause she was fear­ful of of­fend­ing. But by her mid 20s, dis­gusted with both the bub­blegum and the boyfriend of the mo­ment, she plunged into crys­tal meth and be­came, within a mat­ter of months, broke, half­s­tarved and com­pletely para­noid, cer­tain the FBI was tail­ing her.

Her weight dropped from 52 to 40kg. And it was in the midst of this mis­ery that Fergie wrote ‘Los­ing my ground’, a bal­lad which in­cludes the lyrics “Who am I now? Where does it end?”

In fact, that rough pe­riod ended soon af­ter she wrote the song.

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