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Multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated SisQo returns to Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va.

July 13, 2013|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com
  • SisQo is best known for his 2000 hit "The Thong Song." He will perform Saturday, July 20, at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.
Submitted photo

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — It was seeing Michael Jackson perform the moonwalk that changed everything for a young Baltimore boy.

“It was something about that moment that was kind of magical,” said SisQo during a telephone interview from his Maryland home. He had just gotten back from performing in Kuwait and Dubai. 

Raised in Baltimore, SisQo was 4 years old when he saw Jackson perform the dance move during the 1983 “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” television special. 

“The way I felt when I saw him do that, I knew that’s what I wanted to do, make somebody have that same feeling,” he said.

Back then, he was known still as Mark Andrews and was already singing regularly in church, as he had since he was 2 years old. He called singing “second nature.”

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When SisQo was 5 years old, he entered a talent contest open to all ages. He performed Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and won the crowd over. That’s when, he said, others recognized he had talent when he took home the top prize.

Today, at age 34, SisQo has had a successful musical career as part of the R&B group Dru Hill as well as his own solo career, racking up record sales and eight Grammy nominations along the way. He’s also dabbled in acting.

SisQo will return to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on Saturday, July 20. He played at the casino in August 2012 with his group, Dru Hill. He’ll be solo this time, performing music from his own musical catalog.

SisQo said he was ready for the success of his 2000 release, “The Thong Song,” which became the song to hear that year. He said his album, “Release the Dragon,” had followed on his success of two multiplatnium albums with Dru Hill.

“I kind of had a plan. I kind of learned from whatever I had done with the group,” he said of launching his solo career. “I did the best I could to apply the knowledge I had gained from the early part of my career.”

He had hoped that the song would have finally given him his elusive Grammy Award. 

“I thought I would get one. That was another lesson that had to be learned later,” he said.

SisQo said he and Dru Hill never officially broke up. They had decided to take some time off and pursue solo projects and other industry work. But, he said, their fans never left.

“That’s the industry we chose — out-of-sight, out-of-mind,” he said. “Some people don’t even know I was in the group. Or thought that (‘The Thong Song’) was the only song I had ever done.”

Dru Hill released in 2010 “Indrupendence Day,” which spurred such hits as “Back to the Future.” The album signified the band’s first release on an independent label. But the only place people were listening to the songs were in the clubs or on the Internet.

“We didn’t go for the radio air play,” he said. “It was a love letter to our fans who followed our careers for this long.”

That’s why, SisQo said, they have been giving the album away free at their gigs around the world. Or for a free download, asking fans to text them (see boxed information).

“It was a project we had done just to clear-up the misconception that Dru Hill was breaking up or not being in the music industry,” he said.

He said between him and the group, they’ve sold more than 40 million records. 

“So technically we don’t have to sell any more records to sustain our lifestyle. We do it because we love it,” he said.

SisQo fans have been eagerly awaiting his third and final installment in his Dragon trilogy, which included 1999’s “Unleash the Dragon” and 2001’s “Return of the Dragon.” The third album, “Last Dragon” was supposed to be released this summer, but SisQo said it mostly likely will released before his Nov. 9 birthday.

He said he’s been working on since “Return,” He had nearly completed the album when he started working with the producers who he had worked with on the first album. 

“We got into a really creative rhythm and I kind of scrapped my entire album except for a few songs and kind of started from scratch,” he said. “It just kind of felt right.”

He said fans will see he has grown as an artist and just like “Unleash” was different from “Return,” SisQo promises that “Last” will also be different.

“Music is alive and I do the best I can by keeping it alive and by not repeating the same things I do more than once,” he said.

If you go ...

What: SisQo

When: 9 p.m. Saturday, July 20

Where: Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, 750 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town, W.Va.

Cost: Free; must be 21 years old or older to enter

Contact: www.hollywoodcasinocharlestown.com

Free download

For a free copy of “Indrupendence Day,” text the word Dru to 410-202-0622.


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