Grammy Award-winning American pop star Ciara has returned to Australia after a five-year absence and the birth of her nine-month-old son, Future Wilburn, to promote her latest single, I Bet, and reconnect with fans. Ciara, 29, came under fire during her tour of the southern hemisphere when she disappointed fans by cancelling meet-and-greets, performing for less than 10 minutes at a concert in Christchurch and cancelling shows. I caught up with Ciara – full name Ciara Princess Harris – to chat about those kinks in her tour as well as motherhood, who she looks up to and her coming album.
What are you doing in Australia?
I am here simply to interact with my fans; I call this the pre-turn-up before I actually come back here for a real tour. Basically I went to a few key clubs in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and I also went to New Zealand, but it was mainly about being able to touch my fans before I come back here with the real tour.
You experienced a lot of drama during this trip. Why did you cancel your meet-and-greets in New Zealand?
That was insane; I had my first experience of this kind with promoters. Unfortunately [the promoters] misled my fans. I had no idea that they had told them that I was doing meet-and-greets. Firstly, I don’t do meet-and-greets at clubs; that’s not normal. We didn’t know about the meet-and-greets and they were charging fans for the meet-and-greet and I don’t believe in that. It was just wack [for the promoters] to lie, basically.
Why were concerts cancelled?
I never booked Adelaide and we couldn’t fly to Cairns because of the cyclone. [The promoters] were promoting [this trip] like it was a tour and it wasn’t a tour. It was just terrible because it all just come back on me, even though [the promoters] apologised for it, it still is a representation of who I am, so it was very frustrating and very disappointing because I really love my fans.
How did the fans react?
It was disappointing because the first night I walked on the stage [in New Zealand], I literally hopped on the mic and I was singing, I was going into the third song and then literally all of a sudden they cut the microphone off and there was a curfew. It was, like, crazy and they were really mad and they had every right to be mad, but we didn’t even know about the curfew before we hit the stage.
Tell me about your coming album.
It will come out in May and my album is called Jackie, which is my mum’s name. It’s inspired by how I can now see the world through her eyes, being a mum, and so that’s where the title came from.
What is the process for you when putting together an album?
Making an album for me, I always have a vision of what I want to do, but this time I was super specific because I feel like it’s such an important time for me, personally, professionally and musically. I am doing everything I could dream of for this album. Sonically I am so content; I had my dream team of producers who I always wanted to work with.
As a new mum releasing a new album, how have you juggled it all?
You know what, I thank God for my dad because my dad is basically my nanny, he would look after [my son] for me when I had to work. I had a system, basically had to create a routine and I was in it like a machine … It’s a whole new world being a mum because you want to be there with your son but you also have to go and make it happen. Babies ain’t cheap and babies gotta eat [laughs]!
Did you know you were going to get straight back to work?
Yes it was my plan – I’m a true businesswoman, I’m about my business and I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.
What is your biggest career highlight?
Getting a Grammy was my highlight, that was pretty awesome.
Is there something on your bucket list?
There are many things. I hope to get more Grammys, and I want to do a world tour. I want to do a collaboration with Janet [Jackson] – I think that would be really cool. She’s queen!
Growing up, did you always envisage your life the way it is today?
I had big dreams; I’m not going to lie. [But] by the grace of God, I feel very blessed that I can dance and sing because I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do.
Of singing and dancing, which was a bigger influence growing up?
I love them both, they kind of both go hand in hand and I’m strongly connected to both of them. I never took any dance classes or singing lessons when I was growing up, so they just kind of all just came together.
How did you learn to dance?
My dad – I’m a daddy’s girl – and we would dance together all the time, and my dad can dance really good. We would dance around the house and I had some really cool, talented friends who would teach me street dancing in the skating ring. And I have to say I was very blessed with a natural ability to dance.
Who do you look up to and who inspires you?
Janet [Jackson], Michael [Jackson], Sade, I love Missy Elliott too – she is a sweet soul – and Michael Jordan.
What do you do for fun in your spare time?
I am a lazy bum because my world spins so much, so I just like to chill, and mummy and baby time is the best … I am a very simple girl; I don’t do a whole lot.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I would be on my second world tour, and hopefully more Grammys, and my son will be nearly six years old then. And I will continue to be a hard-working mum and businesswoman.
WE WENT TO Casoni Italian Bar & Eatery, Darlinghurst
WE ATE Ocean trout carpaccio with dill, sour cream, pickled cucumber and caper dressing; Fresh buffalo mozzarella with beetroots, walnut and mint; Pumpkin ravioli with pistachios, burnt butter and sage sauce.
WE DRANK Aperol Spritz
CIARA WORE a Givenchy dress and Celine shoes.
Photo: Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media