ABU DHABI // Christina Aguilera's concert at the Emirates Palace hotel on Friday will be the biggest-budget music production the country has ever seen, with a 14-piece backing band, a light show and a fireworks display. The Grammy award-winning singer, whose hits include Genie in a Bottle, will perform on the lawns of the hotel to an expected audience of 20,000 people. "The show will have all the bells and whistles associated with a big American songstress," said Lee Charteris, the event's producer.
The stage for the concert will be built across a large central stairway, with 200 lights and three video screens, the largest of which is 10 metres wide. Radio 1 DJs will appear on a second stage before and after the concert. Tickets, which are priced from Dh295 to Dh890 (US$80 to $222), are still available. Aguilera is the latest in a series of stars, including Justin Timberlake, Bon Jovi and Elton John, to perform at the Emirates Palace. The success of previous shows has prompted the hotel to consider building a permanent concert stage in the grounds.
The Abu Dhabi show is part of the singer's "Back to Basics" tour, to promote her latest multi-platinum-selling album. More subdued and sophisticated than some of her earlier shows, the tour has seen Aguilera return to her soul roots, the genre she has said most inspires her music. Aguilera, 27, who has sold more than 25 million records worldwide, is scheduled to release her sixth album next year.
Born on Staten Island, New York, she was known to her neighbours as "the little girl with the big voice". She got her break at the age of 12, on the US talent show Star Search, which led to a role in the Disney Channel's children's television show The New Mickey Mouse Club. Her recording of the theme song for the 1998 Disney film Mulan landed her a record deal with RCA. The opening act for the concert was confirmed last week as Taleen Kalbian, an Armenian-American singer.
Four years ago, Taleen, then 16 years old, debuted in the UAE by headlining her own concert in Abu Dhabi. Taleen, now 20, is classically trained and has been described as "the next Christina Aguilera, meets Aaliyah and Cher seasoned with a pinch of Celine Dion" with a sound that is a blend of "pop, hip-hop, opera with R&B sensibilities". "With a powerful voice and dynamic stage presence, Taleen was the obvious choice to be the opening act for a superstar such as Christina," said John Lickrish, managing director for Flash, the company that organised the event.
A website, www.christinaaguilera.ae, has been set up for the Emirates Palace concert to keep fans updated. email@example.com