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Published: Sunday, 7/3/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Sheryl Crow: Down-to-earth celebrity

Artist performs in Sylvania Tuesday

Singer Sheryl Crow comes to Centennial Terrace in Sylvania Tuesday, July 5. Singer Sheryl Crow comes to Centennial Terrace in Sylvania Tuesday, July 5.

Sheryl Crow’s career has taken her all over the world and splashed her face across the pages of every celebrity magazine in existence.

She was engaged to Lance Armstrong, was a backup singer for Michael Jackson, and has performed with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton. She’s won nine Grammys and most recently was in the news for accidentally flashing her underwear on a CMT awards show.

All of which indicates that life can be kind of weird for Crow, a solid midwesterner and bona fide top-notch musician who, by virtue of her glamorous looks and our out-of-control celebrity culture, has been forced to navigate two disparate worlds.

One minute she’s a working mother and an artist trying to figure out where the bridge should go on a song she’s written. The next she’s trying to make her way through an airport with paparazzi chasing her down.

"I’ve never been comfortable with the cameras in my face, but I really am uncomfortable with the camera in my kids’ faces and that’s a new thing in the last few years with the media outlets turning toward making money off pictures of people’s children. I think it’s a really unfair practice. My kids don’t understand that and it’s an intrusion and can actually be an assault basically," she said in a phone interview from a tour stop in Sioux City, Iowa.

"These guys run around with cameras like they’re in a war zone and it’s really silly. But there’s money to be made off celebrities’ kids, so that aspect of it is very unsavory. It is weird."

Crow, who is performing at Centennial Terrace in Sylvania Tuesday night, maintains an appealing down-to-earth vibe both in her music and persona. She speaks with an accent that is part southern and part midwestern and she’s never shied away from expressing her views on politics — very liberal — the environment, or any other cause that is important to her.

She makes decisions based on what’s best for her family — she has adopted two boys, Wyatt, 4, and Levi, 1 — and doesn’t seem to pay all that much attention to commercial considerations these days.

"I think your life in general informs your art. So everything in my life has become about them. They’re the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of at night," she said.

"And every decision I make they’re involved in the decision-making, or at least they inform my decision-making. There is something wonderful about how children reintroduce you to things in life that you don’t notice anymore or that you take for granted. So it’s great to observe life again in a fresh new way through the eyes of a child."

Crow’s track record of hits carried her through the ’90s when she worked hard to go from a backup singer for people such as Jackson and Don Henley to writing her own songs. Her music has always straddled pop and classic rock, and songs like "All I Wanna Do," "My Favorite Mistake," "Leaving Las Vegas," "If It Makes You Happy," "Soak Up the Sun," and "Everyday Is A Winding Road" are catchy enough to appeal to commercial radio, but cool enough to satisfy the critics.

Miley Cyrus, left, and Sheryl Crow perform during the VH1 Divas concert on Thursday, September, 2009. Miley Cyrus, left, and Sheryl Crow perform during the VH1 Divas concert on Thursday, September, 2009.

A bout with breast cancer in 2006 reorganized her priorities, including focusing so much on changing her diet that she wrote a cookbook with chef friend Chuck White called If It Makes You Healthy: More Than 100 Recipes Inspired By the Seasons (272 pages, St. Martin’s Press, $19.99).

"I wound up changing the way I look at food largely because I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago. I wanted to, instead of taking the Tamoxifen, to explore other avenues for staying well and nutrition was the most obvious," she said.

She also rebooted her musical approach a bit by returning to her soul roots on "100 Miles From Memphis" last year. Growing up in Missouri, literally about a hundred miles from the iconic Tennessee home of the Stax/Volt and Sun record labels that produced such greats as Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and others, she heard that style of music all her life.

The recording sessions were so prolific that she and her band recorded 24 songs, many of which were left off the release.

"I’ve grown up singing it my whole life, but I’ve never fully committed to making a record that is sonically inspired by the Memphis sound. I moved to Nashville five years ago and it just felt like the logical transition at that moment. I was kind of at a turning point in my career where I just wondered what would be fun — fun to take out on tour and fun to sing."

A recently released concert DVD, "Sheryl Crow Miles From Memphis Live at the Pantages Theatre," captures Crow and her crack band featuring guitarist Doyle Bramhall II (who also is her boyfriend) performing 18 songs, many from the new album.

Expect to hear that sound — rhythm and blues, horns, some funk — at Centennial Terrace Tuesday and if it’s anything like the show captured on DVD the music should sound just about perfect in a timeless way on a summer night.

Sheryl Crow will perform at Centennial Terrace, 5773 Centennial Rd., with music starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $60.50 for limited VIP seats and $35.50 in advance for all the rest. They will be $40 the day of the show. Tickets are available at the Strahanan Theater box office, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-745-3000, and online atticketmaster.com.

Contact Rod Lockwood at rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.

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