On October 19, 1998, “Believe” by Cher was released as the lead single from her album with the same name. Departing from her usual pop rock sound, the dance song become a global hit with more than 11 million of copies sold and put Cher back on the music charts. The dance club staple also won a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2000.
Born Cherilyn Sarkisian on May 20, 1946 in El Centro, CA, she felt an affinity to the entertainment world at an early age. Raised by their single mother, Cher and her sister grew up in poverty. At 16, Cher left high school for Hollywood where she met her other half, Salvatore “Sonny” Bono. The couple married and made music together throughout the 1960s, including their epic song “I Got You Babe,” and other hits like “The Beat Goes On.” They went on to create their Emmy-nominated variety show, “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,” in 1971. Their popular program aired until 1974 and generated many hit songs for the pair. However, Sonny and Cher broke up a year later and Cher went on to star in her own Emmy-nominated show from 1975-1976.
After her separation from Bono, Cher emerged as a superstar solo singer and film actress. She had already topped the charts in the early 1970s with provocative songs like “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” and “Half-Breed,” but in the 1980s and 1990s, she churned out a number of pop rock hits such as “I Found Someone” and “If I Could Turn Back Time,” with scandalous outfits to match. In her music video for “If I Could Turn Back Time,” Cher’s outfit – a sheer body stocking and a leather jacket – was so revealing that MTV only aired the video after hours. Cher became known for her barely there yet glamorous Bob Mackie-designed dresses that she wore during awards season.
While rocking the airwaves in the 1980s and 1990s, Cher also became a respected, award-winning actress. After starring in “Silkwood” (1983) and “The Witches of Eastwick” (1987), she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her critically acclaimed performance in “Moonstruck” (1987). She also starred in the powerful HBO film, “If These Walls Could Talk” (1996), about three different women’s experiences with abortion. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her critically acclaimed performance.
With her Top 40 pop hit, “The Shoop Shoop Song,” from her 1990 film “Mermaids,” Cher started to branch out into a less rock-dominated sound, culminating with her 1998 album, “Believe.” Aside from generating the hit song, “Believe,” her song “Strong Enough” also became an empowering dance floor classic. With her club-friendly hit, the songs were also some of the first commercial hits that used auto-tune. The vocal effect would become omnipresent in the years to follow, often dubbed the “Cher effect.”
At 71 years old, Cher is still going stronger than ever. Her 2003 live performance, “Cher: The Farewell Tour,” earned three Emmy Awards. Her residency in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace lasted from 2008 to 2011, with 192 shows total, and Cher returned to the Vegas stage again in 2017 with her “Classic Cher” show.
Recognizing her important impact on the music world, she recently won the 2017 Billboard Icon Award. When she accepted the award, she said, “So, I’ve wanted to do what I do since I was four years old. And I’ve been doing it for 53 years… I was 71 yesterday… And I can do a five-minute plank, okay? Just saying.” With her empowering music and legendary performances, Cher is still an inspiration to her many generations of fans.