Bette Midler, the Divine Miss M, launched her first U.S. tour in a decade last week in Hollywood, Florida.
The Smoothie King Center in New Orleans will be stop No. 4 on Midler’s “Divine Intervention” tour. Following shows through June in 24 North American cities, the Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated singer-actress goes to the United Kingdom for six more dates.
“I can’t believe it’s been a decade since I toured across this great country, but so I’ve been told,” Midler said in a statement. “I’m ready to bring some ‘Divine Intervention’ to all of my fans this summer, even though I’m already exhausted just thinking about it. I can’t wait to perform some of the favorites, as well as some of the new favorites from my most recent album, ‘It’s the Girls!’ ”
“It’s the Girls!” takes Midler back to her childhood and teen years in Hawaii. It was then that she discovered recordings by girl groups The Chiffons, The Shirelles, The Shangri-Las, The Andrews Sisters and New Orleans groups The Boswell Sisters and The Dixie Cups.
“I have been a rabid fan of these groups since I was a sprout,” Midler says on her website. “I have an absolute mania for harmony and vocal groups.”
Midler showed her affection for girl group songs with her album debut, 1972’s “The Divine Miss M”. It features The Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” The Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack.”
“From the very beginning of my recording career I insisted on pretending that I was a girl group,” Midler says. “I often sang all the background parts as well as the leads, just for the fun of it.”
“Chapel of Love” was a No. 1 hit in 1964.
“I thought it was the silliest, most charming song,” Midler says. “And when I pictured myself sashaying down the aisle with my singing bridesmaids in tow, I always fell out.
“The Dixie Cups were out of New Orleans, and their seminal hit, ‘Iko Iko,’ is still played everywhere all the time. Jolly, good-natured, except for the part where the singer threatens to set the listener on fire. It is infectious as only nursery rhymes can be.”
While “The Divine Miss M” album features just three girl group songs, “It’s the Girl!” ups the ante to 15. The tracks include the Boswell Sisters song that inspired the album’s title, 1931’s “It’s the Girl,” songs by 1950s groups The DeCastro Sisters and The Chordettes, 1960s classics by The Ronettes, The Crystals, Martha and the Vandellas, The Shirelles and The Supremes and TLC’s 1994 hit, “Waterfalls.”
“I still listen as avidly as I ever did,” Midler says of her girl group faves. “This record is a small attempt to honor them for all the joy they brought to me and the world.”
For her “Divine Intervention” tour, Midler will be accompanied by a 14-piece band and harmonizing backing vocalists The Harlettes.
Since Midler became a major star in 1972, she’s earned four Grammy Awards (song of the year honors for “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “From a Distance” and record of the year for “Wind Beneath My Wings”); two Academy Award nominations, three Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, three Golden Globe Awards and nine American Comedy Awards. Her worldwide album sales exceed 30 million.
The concert is 8 p.m. Saturday at the Smoothie King Center. Tickets are $50-$445, available at ticketmaster.com