A Grammy-winning artist and musical legend is set to bring the soul to North Central College.
Singer and actress Stephanie Mills will perform an 8 p.m. show Saturday at North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall in Naperville.
Mills has six Gold albums and 10 Billboard No. 1 singles to her credit, including “I’ve Never Known Love Like this Before,” “Home” and “What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin’.”
She made her Broadway musical debut in “Maggie Flynn” at age 9 and shared the stage with co-stars Shirley Jones and the late Jack Cassidy. She also famously originated the role of Dorothy in Broadway’s “The Wiz.”
In recent years, she has shared stages with such artists such as The O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, The Isley Brothers, Carl Thomas, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Babyface and others.
“She was the original Dorothy in ‘The Wiz’ on Broadway. She was called the little lady with the huge voice,” said North Central’s fine arts director Brian Lynch. “The lady is going to wow the audiences. To see another legend in the industry performing on the Pfeiffer Hall stage to kick off our season … you can’t really go uphill from there because she is one of the best of the best, but that’s where we hit it off from. I can’t wait to listen to her.”
Naperville audiences can expect to hear all the hits, she said, including “some surprises.”
“It’s funny, because when I start putting together my show, I realize how many songs I actually have, and it’s a lot of songs,” she said. “I’m going to try to do bits and pieces of all of them. And I might do a tribute to some of my friends who have passed on who I loved … (like) Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Donna Summers and Luther Vandross. They are so missed. Not only did I know some of them, but I was a fan.”
At age 56, Mills has only ever been an entertainer. She’s never waited tables or flipped burgers. She’s fortunate in that she’s only ever done what she loves to do for a living. At this point in her career, she has a rich and varied catalog of music to choose from.
“I enjoy all of it, but I must say I like Broadway and standards,” she said. “Like, I recorded Kenny Loggins’ ‘Give it Half a Chance’ and that’s one of my favorite songs to sing. And of course ‘The Wiz’ stuff.”
She and her band all live in Charlotte, N.C., and she’s constantly rehearsing and changing up the songs to keep things fresh for audiences and herself. She works two or three weekends a month and home-schools her 12-year-old son during the week.
She is still making new music – she released a single titled “So In Love This Christmas” last December, and plans on re-releasing it this year.
“We re-mixed it and we’re re-releasing it,” she said. “I love the holidays; I love Thanksgiving and I love Christmas. We re-mixed the single and made it a little better. And that is the beauty of a Christmas song; you can release it every year.”
Meanwhile, Mills is working on a new album.
“We’re writing songs and I should have new product out soon,” she said. “We’re looking for the best songs that we can find, so I should have something out soon.”
Additionally, she hopes to write a book with poet Nicky Giovanni.
“I met her at a party and I’ve always wanted to work with her because I love all the poetic things that she does,” she said. “I asked her if she would write a book with me. We haven’t determined what our book is going to be, but we are going to do something together.”
She promised audiences who come to her show a good time with lots of music and lots of dancing.
“We’re going to have fun,” she said.