Disney singing sensation Demi Lovato ready for new album, first tour as headliner
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By John J. Moser
The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
It's the time of year typical 16-year-olds plan their summer trips.
So it's no surprise that's precisely what singer Demi Lovato is doing. But for Lovato, it will be quite a jaunt: 43 cities nationwide, on her first headlining tour, which started Sunday.
But Lovato is anything but typical.
Rather, she seems on the verge of stardom not unlike the Jonas Brothers, with whom she starred in the Disney Channel movie "Camp Rock" last year. They also co-wrote songs on her debut album.
That album, last summer's "Don't Forget," hit No. 2 on Billboard's Top 200, and a new disc, "Here We Go Again," comes out July 21 (its title track was released Wednesday).
Later this year she films a "Camp Rock" sequel — she recorded songs for it last week. And another Disney Channel movie,"Princess Protection Program," with best friend and fellow Disney star Selena Gomez, premieres at 8 p.m. EDT Friday.
And of course Lovato also stars in Disney Channel's "Sonny with a Chance," the No. 1 rated TV show for ages 6 to 11.
All of that doesn't mean Lovato doesn't do things other 16-year-olds do, she says in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where she lives. For example, she says, she dates ("definitely!") — though after a suspiciously long pause says it's not any of the Jonas Brothers. And she has her driver's permit and "will get my license in, like, two months," she says.
"It's pretty insane, you know?" she says. "But I'm just managing personal life with work and learning how to do that and it's great. I love doing my job."
Lovato began that job at age 6 with two seasons on the children's TV series "Barney&Friends," then had roles before landing the lead in Disney Channel's "As the Bell Rings" in 2007.
"That summer, I auditioned for 'Camp Rock' and 'Sonny With a Chance' in the same week — actually in the same day," she says. "And, well, they just called me back and I booked them both and then I just got to shooting it."
But it was early the next year, when she signed with the Jonas Brothers' management, that her career hit hyperdrive.
"I went to L.A. for a photo shoot for three days." she says. There, she says, Kevin Jonas Sr. signed her with the Jonas Group and "by the end of the week I had a stylist, I was doing a photo shoot, I was getting ready for my album, I was writing, and then they shipped me off, like, for two weeks to go tour with the Jonas Brothers and write songs with them," she says, laughing.
"So what was supposed to be only two days turned into the rest of my life."
When "Camp Rock" came out a year ago, Lovato already was back on the Jonas tour and readying her own album.
"I really wanted to establish myself as a musician, not just the girl from 'Camp Rock,'" she says.
Lovato says she started writing songs with the Jonases while filming "Camp Rock" in Canada, and continued when it came time to record her debut album.
"I really just wasn't prepared to basically like poop out an entire album by myself," she says, laughing. "So I wrote it with them and they helped me. They obviously knew the situation, and then we got on the bus one night — songs just started pouring out."
Despite her disc's success — it had four Top 30 Hot Digital singles — she concedes it was "very Jonas," and says she "branched out" on the new disc.
"I feel like this is my album," she says. "It was great having the Jonas Brothers help me. But with this one, I sound a little bit more like what's coming from my heart. It's more me.
"There are some songs that are more rock than the last one, but there's also more songs that are just more soulful, that have more passion in them lyrically and emotionally." She also collaborated with John Mayer, William Beckett of The Academy and Toby Gad, who worked with Beyonce and Fergie.
Lovato admits she's concerned about sounding too adult and alienating her core audience of 'tween girls.
"I could say, (deepens her voice) 'Oh, I don't want to do any pop music, I'm going to go, like, totally rock or totally soulful,'" she says. But "it's not what my fans want right now, it's not what I want right now. I listen to a lot of really mature music, but it's not what I want to sing when I'm on stage. I'm a teenager. I want to rock out, I want to have fun. That stuff's for when I'm older."
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Lovato admits being a teen star can be "a blessing and a curse at the same time."
"I kind of feel stuck in a way," she says. "I feellike I wouldn't be doing anything that I'm doing today if I wasn't as mature as I am. But at the same time it sucks, because you hang out with older people — unless they're Selena and Miley (Cyrus). They grew up in the business, they're obviously mature because you have to be. Every person that's on Disney Channel, there's a sense of, like, adult-ness to them."
But Lovato says she doesn't feel she missed anything from her teen years.
"I think living the regular life of a teenager is too boring," she laughs.
As for her dates, she says she's not one to share details publicly.
"I've actually had full-on relationships while I've been famous, and nobody's caught on," she says, laughing. "It's just a part of my life that I don't feel should be ruined by this while fame thing.
"To me it's a little too desperate for attention when people go really public with who they're dating. ... (But) it's hard, too, in a way. I could say that I've recently gone through a breakup or whatever and then once you say that and write an album about it, then a lot of your fans and people are like, 'Who was it?' "
Nor will Lovato dish on Gomez's publicized romance with Nick Jonas.
"Pass," Lovato says, laughing.
Lovato also dismisses rumored feuds with Cyrus, and comparisons to her.
"We're best friends, too," Lovato says. "She is the biggest thing that's out there right now, and that's a huge compliment (to be compared to her). But at the same time, I'm myself. So I would like to become the next Demi Lovato."
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Here are 10 things you might not know about Demi Lovato. (Two or three that even 'tween girls might not know):
1. Her first name is Demetria. Demi is the shortened version.
2. Her older sister, Dallas, and younger half sister, Madison De La Garza, also are both actresses.
3. Her mother, Dianna Hart, was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and country singer who opened for top acts.
4. Her stepfather, Eddie De La Garza, quit his job as a Ford dealership manager to become her road manager and body guard.
5. Star magazine will have a story in its July 7 issue telling of her recent reunion with her father, Patrick Lovato, after four years of separation. A song on her upcoming album called "For the Love of the Daughter," deals with the estrangement.
5. Told interviewers she likes metal music, especially black metal and metalcore.
6. Was a judge on a Disney Channel UK reality show, "My Camp Rock," for young musicians.
7. Attributes bullying from other girls to leaving school and maturing quickly. "I used to have a kind of, like, a social disorder type thing with being around people my age because I didn't really know how to function around them," she says in the interview. "I left school for boarding because I've been, like, scarred by like teenage girls, so that really made me grow up quick."
8. Her hit show "Sonny With a Chance" originally was to be called "Mollywood."
9. At 16, bought a house in Los Angeles.
10. Came up with the ideas for the video for her hit "Don't Forget." ''They had treatments (for the video), but I was just like, 'No, scratch them,'" she says in the interview. "I want to come up with the idea. I want to show you the colors, I want to show you everything. This is art to me and I don't want it to be somebody else's decision."
(c) 2009, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
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