December 1, 2009 / 10:41 PM / in 9 years

Thalia's voice front and center on new album

MIAMI (Billboard) - With careers in music and acting, a syndicated weekly radio program, a TV show (on the V-Me network) and multiple lines of clothing and accessories to her name, Mexican star Thalia is much more than just a singer. But on her upcoming live album “Primera Fila,” Thalia seeks to showcase her voice.

Recording artist Thalia of Mexico performs at the annual Premios Juventud Latin Music awards in Coral Gables, Florida in this July 17, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Hans Deryk

The set, Thalia’s first on Sony Music Latin after years with EMI, is part of the label’s “Primera Fila” (First Row) series of live recordings and features Thalia performing with a 12-piece band. “Primera Fila,” which hit stores Tuesday (December 1), will be sold as both a CD and a DVD. Additionally, a 45-minute documentary will air as a special on Televisa and Univision along with some of the live performances.

Billboard: This is so different from your previous performances and recordings. Would you really have done it before?

Thalia: It wouldn’t have been the same album five years ago. This album found me at a moment in my career where I’ve done everything. I’ve been a singer, a dancer, an interpreter, everything. Being a mother (of 2-year-old Sabrin) has changed my core. And also, two years ago, I contracted Lyme disease, and that broke my life structure. I had to stop and ask myself, “What do you want? What makes you happy?” It liberated me of all my preconceptions, of everything my name means. And the Thalia who spends time at home with a ponytail and who goes out for pizza in her jeans is the same person that’s on that stage.

Billboard: In the documentary, you mention that your singing abilities have been questioned.

Thalia: It was amusing to share that skepticism because it’s been voiced. I’ve sung from the most “pop” songs to deep ballads. I started my career at 7 years old, singing from town to town. I’ve worn every outfit imaginable, I’ve danced every choreography, I’ve been set on fire. Everything. But as a singer, I did need to interpret songs with weight and depth and structure that opened up another part of me. It doesn’t mean that what I’ve done wasn’t important, but at this very moment, I’m the person you see on “Primera Fila.”

Billboard: You sold a lot of albums when the market was at its peak. Are you prepared for the lower sales of today’s market?

Thalia: The album has become a promotional tool to enable you to be in contact with your fans, to continue to grow and develop your career. But if you think you’re going to make money selling albums, you’re on another planet. First of all, where would you buy it? Those spectacular music stores are gone. And culture has become disposable. There’s no longer that culture of following an entire album. What I want to do is take this DVD — this small stage with great musicians — and re-create it on tour. Allow people to almost rest their elbows on the stage.

Billboard: Did you feel naked performing without the usual bells and whistles?

Thalia: You have no idea what I felt those two first rehearsal days. I was trembling, my hands were freezing. I was so nervous about being so vulnerable for the first time and having people see me as I am. But I think being so nervous allowed me to go beyond my limits. I never doubted myself, because the stage has been my school.

Billboard: You include a duet with Joan Sebastian — written just for you — and a duet with newcomer Pedro Capo. Was anything left off the album?

Thalia: We did everything we planned. But it’s important to underscore: I prepared very hard. I took voice lessons for six months with Celine Dion’s teacher. I physically prepared with a workout routine. I rehearsed the songs to death.

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