Expert Bio: Ward Lamb is a long term Cheraholic with CD liner credits for Rhino and Sundazed. Ward has been collecting Cher for as long as she has been around--many times buying ten copies of everything to keep her in the stores! He has given seminars and been the proud recipient of the Mary Ladd Cher Scholarship award! [Ward Lamb also wrote a very thorough article on Cher's recording oeuvre in a 1999 issue of Goldmine Magazine. Read his Sundazed release and Inner Views liner notes and his liner notes for 3614 Jackson Highway.]
Purpose of the Q and A: My focus for this was to dive into discussions on the ways we talk about Cher when we write about her, both as mainstream press and as fans -- and the differences between the two ways of looking at Cher, especially in terms of those aspects that don't usually get much ink,
Cher Scholar: Do you have a theory as to has Cher lasted so long?
Ward Lamb: I believe that Cher has lasted this long because she has an innate charisma. She is unusual but attractive.
CS: Is there any common element that ties the music, movies, television and other Cher products together?
WL: Her popularity in all mediums is connected to her exotic and working class roots, not unlike Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, etc.
CS: How would you describe Cher fashion through the decades and how important is fashion to the big successful picture?
WL: Her streamlined body with her natural ability to wear all kinds of assembles has been the presentation for her other talents. She is the archetypal chameleon.
CS: Do you have a theory as to why Cher has struggled to get respect for her recording career and yet her recordings are still in demand?
WL: Cher has been accused of being superficial and untalented throughout her career. Her charisma and her talent seem so easy that it distracts one from her engaging intensity. Her lack of focus on her singing career has led to a reputation as a clothes horse, which distracts from the promise of her voice. Her voice is distinctive and her commercial voice seems to elicit a global response to her style and low register-unparalleled by other female pop singers.
CS: Do you have a theory as to why Cher appeals to the fan groups she does: the gay community (men and women), little girls, introverts, nostalgic boomers, any other groups?
WL: Cher is a star. She quite simply radiates star-her earthiness and languid body have an intensity that appeals to all sorts of people. Gay people love her because she is a self-made creation, confident in her self expression and directions. She is intuitive more than extremely intelligent which motivates her decisions. Men love her for her ballsiness, and so do women. She is a fantasy character, and inspires the introvert to dream.
CS: What are some under-estimated aspects of Cher -- or facets of her work/life that are interesting but never usually get talked about?
WL: Probably her parenting is a hidden part of her life. I think the press describes Cher as a one dimensional celebrity. She has contributed to the rock and roll fashion world and deserves rock and roll hall of fame status. She is not given enough credit for her sixties fashion influence which was phenomenal.
CS: Do you see Cher's influence in any current music or theatrical performers? In any unusual suspects?
WL: She has influenced Christina Aguilera as well as Beyonce in her fashion leadership. I also see her influence on Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. She has also influenced women to show there hard and soft sides in the acting arena.
CS: What are some single word adjectives to best describe Cher?
WL: Cher is indominatable, courageous and a bit carried away with her own image.