Do you believe in Cher? Millions of music fans do, and due to their support, the singer/actor continues to endure almost 60 years after kicking off her career.
But, like everyone, Cher faced challenging times when even those in her camp didn’t always side with her decision-making. One of the best examples is her and her longtime label Warner Bros.’ skepticism toward Cher’s biggest late-career hit, “Believe.”
Here’s what went down.
Cher the Rebel
Before Cher embarked on her six-decade-long music career, she got into a lot of mischiefs in her teen years. At a mere 13-years-old, police busted her for grand theft auto after she “borrowed” her mother’s car. Around the same time, Cher hopped on a train.
The pop singer lodged some other personal regressions in her youth. For example, she told her future husband Sonny Bono that she was 18 when she was really 16. And a school dropout to boot.
Making matters worse, when Bono found out she lied, she fibbed again and said she was 17 going on 18.
Nonetheless, Cher was determined to become a pop star — and, of course, she did. She first stepped out in late 1964 with Bono; they billed themselves as Caesar & Cleo.
It was the following year when Caesar & Cleo — now named a bit more appropriately as Sonny & Cher — released “I Got You Babe.” The chart-topping single remains one of her biggest hits of all time.
In the ensuing years, Cher released more than 25 albums — and, maybe equally impressive, 20 flicks.
But when her career quieted down in the 1990s, she needed a new megahit.
Why Warner Bros. Didn’t ‘Believe’ in the Huge Hit
Cher revived her career in a massive way in 1999 with the dance-pop hit. It’s hard to overstate the popularity of the title track to her 22nd album.
Not only did it top Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 singles chart in 1999, but it also soared in the U.K. There, it stands as the biggest-selling song by a female artist.
And yet the song almost never made it to the radio — or even a record.
Cher said, according to CheatSheet.com, that the song — with its groundbreaking “Cher effect” vocals —would only see the light of day over her “dead body.” But she eventually caved.
Then again, she told Entertainment Tonight in 2017 that she’s like any of her own music.
“I’m not a Cher fan,” she admitted.
But “Believe” faced another obstacle in the form of Warner Bros., the label to which Cher was signed.
Sound on Sound reported in February 1999 that Warner executives passed around various versions of the song before Cher even recorded it. They only approved of the chorus — not the music itself.
Eventually, the label brought in other songwriters to rework it as a dance-pop number.
Three years ago, American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert brought Cher to tears with his performance of “Believe.”
Cher the Survivor
No doubt about it, Cher’s career slowed down in recent years. But the word “retirement” doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary, as she hasn’t discussed the possibility of throwing in the towel.
In 2013, she promoted a special Mother’s Day documentary and an album with her mom, Georgia Holt.
Cher had discovered a 31-year-old vinyl of her mom’s singing and had sound mixers layer her mom’s voice on top of Cher’s band. Originally, it featured musicians from Elvis Presley’s band.
The album, Honky Tonk Woman, never hit record stores until the pop singer got a hold of it. The documentary was originally supposed to be an 86th birthday present — but then Lifetime pushed Cher to turn it into a full film.
“I’ve realized what brave is, and that is going on national television with your mother,” she joked to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.
It’s hard to remember at this point that Cher was 67 at the time because she and her mother were present as a full 30 years younger than they actually are.
At present, the pop singer has more than 300 awards to her name. That’s right, not 30 … 300. If she manages to get a Tony Award at some point, she’ll join an elite number of artists with EGOT Credit.