For 22-year-old Beyoncé Knowles, success has come early and often. From her early days in Houston with Destiny’s Child to her current global superstardom, she’s made doing well (and looking good) look almost effortless. She’s also taken some criticism along the way, though, from music critics and even some fans. Surprisingly, she doesn’t see her successes as coming as rapidly as some people think. “Like anything in life, it takes a long time to achieve certain things,” she said in a recent teleconference with journalists. “And the harder you work, the better it feels when you finally accomplish it. There’s always criticism in everything you do, especially when you are in the public eye. For a while, I was criticized a lot. People just blamed me for everything. That was a long time ago and I’m over that.” She sees her struggle in a positive light. “I’m happy that people challenged me, because that’s when I have to go and look at myself and fix the things that are wrong and grow,” she said. Still, she pointed out to any detractors, “I was the first black woman to win Songwriter of the Year and I’ve accomplished so many other things that people don’t like to acknowledge. And it is frustrating at times, but I think once you see me live, you really have no choice but to respect me as a true artist.” During rehearsals for the Verizon Ladies First tour with Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott, which comes to Conseco Fieldhouse on Tuesday, March 30, Knowles expressed disbelief that the long-anticipated tour was actually happening. “It hasn’t sunk in yet that it’s really going to come true,” she said. “I’ve been hoping for it to happen for a year. I’m really excited and hopefully history can be made and this is something that can happen every year.” She said, “I think it’s going to be an entertainer’s show. Everyone can hold their own and everyone in the show are songwriters and producers. There’s just so much strength on the tour.” Although she recently played sold-out shows in Europe, this will be Knowles’ first sojourn across America as a solo artist. “I didn’t want to do a tour until I had at least three singles, because usually people have numerous albums before they tour,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to get a chance to tour this album because of time. I do so many different things with movies, and I toured Europe for two months, and all of the videos and award shows. I finally said, I gotta do a tour!” She said, “I love performing. It’s my favorite thing ever, performing live on stage. I love writing songs and being in the studio. But when you perform live, you can really get the writer’s full thoughts when they were writing the song. It’s amazing that I’m finally able to do this in America.” She promised a show full of old-time glamour and high fashion, with Dolce and Gabana clothes for the dancers and herself. “It’s very glamorous for the women and very hip-hop for the guys. It’s just a great combination of all different things. I love Broadway musicals, so I like to watch a lot of those old movies to get my references and I try to make them current and expose my fans to ballet and to a lot of classical things and old Hollywood glamour.” Still, performing as a solo artist after several years with a group is different for her. “When I [toured] in Europe, I was so terrified. But now I’ve gotten a lot more used to it,” she said. “And it still is strange, because you have so much to remember. And when you have other people on the stage, when you mess up, they’re there to catch you. Now I have my dancers, and we’ve become like a whole union and friends, so that helps, but it’s still different.” The triple-threat nature of the show also points out the fact that all three performers are in firm control of every aspect of their careers. “I think it’s incredible that all of us write our own songs and produce our own music,” Knowles said. “We’re all very different, but at the same time we are all great performers and we’re all true artists and very involved in our careers. “Missy and I have been working together since I was 16. I was on her first record and she was on Destiny’s Child’s first record. She was on my last album. So there are songs we could do together now. Hopefully, all three of us can come up with an old-school song and perform it together.” She even found time to patch things up with Le Toya Luckett, the former Destiny’s Child member who left the group after their second album amid complaints about their management. “It was like seeing a sister you hadn’t seen in a long time,” she said. “I’m happy for her that she’s doing well. I’m happy that we each are on a different chapter of our lives. It was good to see her and know there are nothing but positive feelings for each other.” After the tour, Knowles will head into the studio for another Destiny’s Child album and tour, both due by the end of the year.
WHAT: Verizon Ladies First tour with Beyoncé Knowles, Alicia Keys & Missy Elliott WHEN: Tuesday, March 30 WHERE: Conseco Fieldhouse TICKETS: $42.50-$69.50 through Ticketmaster