Music News

Pop Goes Her World

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And though Ciria -- like any working performer -- is unlikely to be critical of any paying job, the Borders gig ain't a spot at Red Rocks, or the Pepsi Center, where Ricky Martin wowed "La Vida"-loving crowds last December. At a Northglenn Borders gig earlier this summer, as neon lights from PetSmart and Mattress Discounters reflected through the storefront windows, Ciria -- decked out in a Rhythm Nation-era Janet Jackson coat, black choker, black miniskirt and almost go-go boots -- faced a book-smart crowd and crooned, "Baby can you move with me, can you do to me/All the things that the right man would do?" (from "Can You Move With Me?"). Not exactly the kind of scene you'd expect on a Friday night at a suburban bookstore, a place where families converge to consider new coffee-table books while their kids pore over Beanie Babies catalogues. "It used to be hard to do gigs like that," she admits. "It's still not my favorite thing to do, but I'm better at being comfortable doing it. It's always easier when you have the band up there with you, and when you have people who are there because they have chosen to come and see you, rather than to have people who are just coming to buy a book and there you are.What are they going to think?"

However, even at gigs like this one, there are one or two starry-eyed little girls in the front row who can't take their eyes off Ciria, who don't want to leave when their fathers tell them it's time to go, who wait patiently for her to autograph a poster that they'll hang in their bedrooms. "They're my favorite [fans]," she says with a smile. "Honestly, that's the best part for me. I love kids, and I remember being that age and being fascinated by music by singers like Olivia Newton-John, Linda Ronstadt and Lulu. Because of it, I participated in choir and I danced, and I was involved in something creative all the time. So when people talk about Britney Spears and say, 'Oh, her fans are all ten years old,' it might be true, but it will leave a mark on them, and they won't forget. Hopefully, that's something I can do."

That type of wistful, ever-hopeful comment is not uncommon when Ciria discusses her music career. Since those almost-Disney days, she's been told that she needed to be a "star" by an early age if she was going to make it in the world of pop music -- a notion that resonates with a quick spin of the radio dial or a scan of teen magazines. So while Ciria keeps busy with the Borders gigs and starring in a once-a-week videocast on FirstEntertainment.Com -- an Internet broadcast that usually includes a variety of clips of the artist, from prepping for a performance of the national anthem at a Rockies game to applying pre-concert makeup and chatting about relationships -- she's also hard at work in the studio, recording a handful of tunes she'll relay to Interscope and anyone else who might be interested. The hardest part of the whole music business, she explains, is "reminding myself that I can really do this, that I have a prayer and that it's within my reach.

"This industry is so incredibly competitive, and because I've chosen to do pop music, my age is a huge factor. It's awful and I hate it, but it is what it is, and I've known that since I was fourteen years old. And [industry types] reminded me when I was sixteen years old, and then they reminded me again when I was nineteen, twenty and 21. They will not hesitate to tell you that if you're 26 years old and you think you have a prayer of doing this, you're wrong. Even though I think to myself, 'That's crazy, that's ridiculous, I'm going to do this until I'm dead,' it's hard to look at someone who has the power to at least help create a career for you and hear them say that."

Besides, Ciria points out, her time clock has not been completely used up. "I still have a couple of years," she says. She says it without any of the false sunniness of a naive young performer, or an industry puppet, or a Mousketeer. She says it with the necessary optimism of someone who truly believes that hard work -- and talent -- mean something, even in a competitive world. B

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Mary Guiden