Cher ad­mits want­ing to get Kennedy honor dur­ing Obama years

New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT) - - KICKOFF - Pho­tos and text from wire ser­vices

WEST HOL­LY­WOOD, Calif. (AP) — The phone call telling Cher she was a Kennedy Cen­ter hon­oree was cer­tainly wel­come — but she ad­mits she wanted to get it ear­lier.

The Grammy, Emmy and Os­car win­ner, whose ABBA-trib­ute al­bum “Danc­ing Queen” was just re­leased, ac­knowl­edged she’d long hoped for that call. She said she “wanted to get it so badly” dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Now she will, at age 72, dur­ing the Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, which might make for an awk­ward gath­er­ing. A reg­u­lar at anti-Trump ral­lies and marches, Cher ranks among the most out­spo­ken celebri­ties against the U.S. pres­i­dent. The White House said no de­ci­sions had been made on whether Trump would par­tic­i­pate in this year’s Kennedy Cen­ter Hon­ors pro­gram.

The Kennedy Cen­ter prize is given to those in the per­form­ing arts for life­time con­tri­bu­tions to Amer­i­can cul­ture. This year’s other re­cip­i­ents are composer and pi­anist Philip Glass, coun­try mu­sic en­ter­tainer Reba McEn­tire, and jazz sax­o­phon­ist and composer Wayne Shorter. The co-cre­ators of the Tony-win­ning mu­si­cal “Hamil­ton” will re­ceive a spe­cial award as trail­blaz­ing cre­ators of a trans­for­ma­tive work that de­fies cat­e­gory.

Cher missed out on the first wave of ABBA-ma­nia, which be­gan to sweep most of the rest of the planet with the Swedish quar­tet’s 1974 Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test win with “Water­loo” and was con­firmed by the suc­cesses of “SOS” and “Mamma Mia” a year later.

“I was most Amer­i­cans,” Cher com­mented. “I knew `Water­loo,’ `Danc­ing Queen’ and `Mamma Mia.’ And that’s pretty much it. And then I be­came a fan with `Muriel’s Wed­ding,“’ she con­tin­ued, re­fer­ring to the 1994 Aus­tralian dark com­edy that played a key role in re­viv­ing in­ter­est in ABBA record­ings.

Af­ter the 1999 West End debut of the juke­box mu­si­cal “Mamma Mia!” as well as sub­se­quent pro­duc­tions around the world and the 2008 first film “Mamma Mia!,” ABBA-ma­nia was back — and now in­cluded the U.S. The band’s 1992 great­est hits al­bum climbed to No. 25 on the Bill­board Top 200 al­bum chart this year.

Cher ap­peared in the movie se­quel “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” and she met lyri­cist Bjorn Ul­vaeus and composer Benny An­der­s­son from ABBA.

Record­ing the al­bum of cov­ers gave Cher greater ABBA in­sight. “I was a lit­tle cranky with Bjorn be­cause of the way he writes, and then I re­al­ized he writes this way be­cause he doesn’t write in English. So, he tells the story in a more in­ter­est­ing way. He has to get to the story.

“And I didn’t re­al­ize how in­tri­cate the mu­sic was,” she con­tin­ued. “I thought, `Whoa! Benny has re­ally got some stuff go­ing on there: all th­ese lines, and riff over riff over riff. And so I had more re­spect for them.”

It’s a busy pe­riod for Cher, whose lat­est world tour be­gan Sept. 21 and runs through May, end­ing in Min­neapo­lis. She’s co-pro­ducer of a juke­box mu­si­cal about her life, “The Cher Show,” with pre­views set to be­gin Nov. 1 on Broad­way. And the Kennedy Cen­ter Hon­ors will be taped Dec. 2 in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Through it all, Cher no doubt will be pay­ing at­ten­tion to other hap­pen­ings in D.C., keep­ing her eye on the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. “We’ve got to watch out,” she noted. “There were signs at other times in world his­tory and some peo­ple didn’t watch them.”

Hannah Peters / Getty Im­ages

Cher per­forms Sept. 21 at Spark Arena in Auck­land, New Zealand, the first show of her lat­est world tour.

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