Sometimes I really love to sit down and look back and see some of the artists who were featured in Weekly Music Commentary throughout the years. I have written for WMC since 2010, therefore there have been many musicians of various musical genres chosen. However, of more interest may be the artists who have not been featured. There are so many reasons; timing, lack of musical material, lack of newsworthy events. Timing is possibly the main reason some have been featured as opposed to others. This week I had to wonder why I never featured The Black Eyed Peas or individual group members like Fergie. Well, this week will change all of that as I chose to finally bring Fergie to the forefront of Weekly Music Commentary.
The more I prepared for this week, the more I found of interest in Fergie’s background story. I had no idea that Fergie has been active in entertainment since she was a child. Nor did I realize that she had been in other successful groups before The Black Eyed Peas. Maybe the reason I did not know much about Fergie is that her solo work began in recent years. Nevertheless, this week I will try to bring you the very compelling story of singer/songwriter Fergie.
Sarah Ann Ferguson was born March 27, 1975. During her young, school-age years Fergie was a cheerleader, straight-A student, spelling bee champion, and Girl Scout. Normal life for a girl. However, also during this time Fergie started laying the groundwork for a long and illustrious musical career.
Fergie studied dance and began to do voiceover work; she provided the voice for Sally in two made-for-television Peanuts cartoons, It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (1984) and Snoopy’s Getting Married, Charlie Brown (1985), as well as on four episodes of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. From 1984 to 1989, she starred on the TV show Kids Incorporated and was the longest running cast member; she starred in the first six of the show’s nine seasons. As Fergie became a teenager she started to take on projects that reflected her growth. Fergie was a member of the female trio Wild Orchid, which she fronted with Stefanie Ridel and fellow Kids Incorporated star Renée Sandstrom. By 1992, the girls began meeting with record labels, but they still could not get a recording contract. They eventually signed a music publishing deal with Sony Publishing before signing a record contract with RCA Records in 1994.
Wild Orchid’s first single, “At Night I Pray”, debuted on the Billboard charts in September 1996. In March 1997, the band released their self-titled début album, which debuted at #153 on the Billboard 200. It seemed that early promise would provide a foundation for the band to grow to a bigger success. In September 1998, they released their second album, Oxygen, which was a commercial failure, only selling 200,000 copies worldwide. From June 16 to August 28, 1999, they opened for Cher’s Do You Believe? Tour alongside Cyndi Lauper, which took them to 52 cities across the United States and Canada. They completed a third album, which their record label declined to release, and Fergie left the group in September 2001.
The Black Eyed Peas were recording their third album, Elephunk (2003), when will.i.am invited Fergie to try out for a song called “Shut Up”. She got the gig and instantly bonded with the trio, going on to record five additional songs on the album. The following spring, shortly before Elephunk came out, Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine offered Fergie a permanent spot to take over vocal duties and fill the void left by background singer Kim Hill’s departure in 2000. For both Fergie and The Black Eyed Peas the changes were very positive. In a review of The Black Eyed Peas’ new-found style, Rolling Stone noted that since 2002, when the group “hired a blond bombshell named Stacy ‘Fergie’ Ferguson and gave up their pursuit of backpack-rapper cred, they have made a kind of spiritual practice of recording futuristic songs – a total aesthetic commitment that extends from their garish wardrobes to their United Colors of Benetton worldview.”
Throughout the early 2000’s, The Black Eyed Peas would rise to major prominence and became a worldwide sensation. In autumn 2005, The Black Eyed Peas toured with Gwen Stefani, as supporting act. In December 2005, they embarked on the “European Tour”. In March 2006, The Black Eyed Peas toured again, as the featured headliner for the Honda Civic Tour.
As Fergie turned thirty years old she had found success with The Black Eyed Peas, but now an opportunity for her to release solo material was upon her. Fergie’s début solo album, The Dutchess, was released in September 2006. It was initially recorded in 2005. The songs on the album are “from a seven-year period, but [Interscope CEO] Jimmy Iovine heard some [tracks] and was like, ‘This is great, let’s put it out’. One of the album’s executive producers and fellow Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am stated that she was “writing about her personal struggles and casting her demons away and feminine power. [It’s] her singing for young girls to be strong, and what they’re going through in life, just growing up in this world of uncertainty.” The album produced five top five singles in the United States, including three number-one hits on the US Billboard Hot 100, “London Bridge”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, and “Glamorous”, as well as the number two single “Fergalicious” and the number five single “Clumsy”. All five of the aforementioned singles have sold over two million digital downloads each in the United States, thus setting a new record in the digital era for the most multi-platinum singles from one album.
Now, Fergie released her second studio album, Double Dutchess. It was released on September 22, 2017. The album is the singer’s first to be released under her own imprint, Dutchess Music, in a partnership with Retrofuture Productions and BMG Rights Management, and first since her solo début, The Dutchess (2006).
After concluding two worldwide tours with The Black Eyed Peas in support of The E.N.D. (2009) and The Beginning (2010) from 2009 to 2011, Fergie decided to take a break from the group to concentrate on her solo career – a follow-up to The Dutchess (2006) – although she didn’t want to “rush anything out.” Allan Raible from ABC News stated in his review: “She’s a shape shifter with a fun new album”, adding: “On her own, Fergie remains a versatile, exciting performer, further establishing her growing clout as an entertainer. This record will have its detractors, but at the very least it provides a fun ride.”
I listened to the entire album and tend to agree with Allan Raible. Fergie is capable of doing so much musically that she can easily create a most enjoyable album. She has done this with Double Dutchess. If you have not heard the album in entirety as of yet, please download or stream it. You won’t be disappointed.