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Fergie turns life around in a big way

Rick Chandler

Stacy Ann Ferguson — or Fergie, to her fans — had the upbringing one might expect of a pop diva from Los Angeles: Strict Catholic upbringing, cast member of the Disney TV show “Kids Incorporated,” association with Hacienda Heights gang bangers, onetime crystal meth user … you know, the usual.

But in 2003, Fergie took the reigns as the lead female vocalist for The Black-Eyed Peas to record five songs, and was soon invited to join the group permanently. The band, which had a limited following at the time, was on its way to the big time; and Fergie along with them.

Although she continues to sing with The Black-Eyed Peas, Fergie has embarked on a solo career that has been nothing short of meteoric. Her debut album, “The Duchess,” has sold more than 3 million copies, she’s appeared in movies such as “Be Cool,” “Poseidon” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Grindhouse,” and has even launched her own fashion label.

“I’ve always been a risk taker in everything I do, and that includes my style,” said Fergie to MTV.com recently. “I’m not scared about putting on clothes that are weird or a bit different. I don’t care what other people think, it’s more important that I feel comfortable. Fashion’s about being creative, and if someone doesn’t like my style, I see it as a compliment.”

That could also be said of her career as a whole. Her career has been a crossroads of styles and attitudes: Who else, for instance, can boast diversity such as being both the voice of Sally Brown in several Charlie Brown cartoon specials, and the singer of the Black Eyed Peas hit “My Humps?”

“In junior high I was fascinated by gangsta rap,” she said in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. “I was suburban, yet I had glimpses from where I lived. I’m hearing all the stories about what was going on in East L.A. and South Central, looking at it from the outside. I think I come from a whole generation of that. That’s why a lot of people can relate with me, because they lived that, too. Seeing it but not really living it. So there weren’t any of the negative consequences to the guns and all of that. It was just interesting and sexy.”

She first had visions of being a star when she attended a Tina Turner concert at the age of 6.

“I saw Tina Turner, second row, with my dad,” Ferguson said. “She pointed at me. That was big. I love how she was energetic and raw. Those early impressions tell you how things are supposed to be. I’ve taken a lot of that with me.”

She is not shy about talking of her drug addiction, which began when she was with the band Wild Orchids, who occasionally opened for The Black-Eyed Peas.

“It started on the weekends and graduated to all the time,” she says. “Me and my girlfriends would get ready, go out to the club, come home, change into my faux-fur coats and my sunglasses and rent a limo – spending all my child-actor money – and go to the club Garage that would start at 6 a.m. and dance till 12. Then I graduated to crystal, and it started being more about going to Home Depot at four in the morning and getting crafty at home.”

One night Ferguson pulled her car to the side of the road and in a few minutes wrote a song called “Losing My Ground”

“I became more and more isolated, and it became more and more dark,” she said. “One day I started not knowing who I was, and there was this little voice inside of me — God or my conscience — and I had a conversation with me: ‘Either go this way or that way. Which road do you wanna choose?’ ”

At 25, she moved back in with her parents. “I came clean with everybody and started my life over,” she said. “I started living off of unemployment and hustling, getting my grind on, seeing if there were any writers I could work with, any home studios I could get into.”

Then came the opportunity with The Black-Eyed Peas, and the rest is history in the making.


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