EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 29, 2013

Catching up with Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah had a plan all along.

The 43-year-old artist said she wanted to sing hip-hop early in her career, and she did. But she also knew she loved other music, from the classics to gospel, and everything in between.

And she loved acting.

“Honestly, I felt like, I wouldn’t say, before my time, but I will say I was different,” she said in a recent phone interview from her mother’s home in New Jersey, her home state.

Latifah has carved out a career many performers would envy. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 2002’s “Chicago.” She has won a Golden Globe and a Grammy, among other honors. She’s also a Cover Girl spokeswoman.

And she will have her own morning talk show on CBS starting Sept. 16.

Latifah said she has never shied from challenges, even if that meant shifting gears in her career.

“I would loved to have made jazz music from the beginning,” she said.

Her performance in “Chicago” was her chance to show fans she was ready to give them more than hip-hop.

“I felt like the audience was ready because they knew I was capable of singing these kinds of songs,” Latifah said.

She called it a dream come true to co-star with country legend Dolly Parton in the 2012 movie “Joyful Noise,” about a gospel choir that undergoes a transformation while competing with other singing groups.

“She’s so cool -- such a professional,” Latifah said of Parton. “So talented, sweet, down-to-earth and funny as hell.

Latifah said that, while growing up, she admired Parton because she was a statuesque woman who, like herself, was “carrying a lot on top, for that matter.”

She said she realized early on that she wanted to control her career and pilot her musical and acting path.

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