By MARY RICHE
OMAHA, Neb., August 25, 2023 – “I’m an old rocker, as in rock ’s’ roll,” I told my husband Chuck Offenburger shortly after we got involved. After learning he had never heard of P!NK, my favorite rock star, I warned him, “I’m probably too much of a rocker for you to handle.”
Now, imagine my delight earlier this week when Chuck and I attended P!NK’s “Summer Carnival” concert at Charles Schwab Field here, and he declared it was “the best concert” he’d ever attended, “even better than both Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones from a few decades ago.”
Wow! It was quite an evening.
It began with dinner at the classic Magnolia Hotel, at the top of the Old Market district. I noticed two young-teenage women wearing bright pink tops, perfect makeup, and great hair braids enjoying dinner with an adult woman at the table next to us. I couldn’t resist approaching them as we were leaving.
“Hi, I’m a harmless older woman curious to know if you are going to see P!NK tonight?” I asked. “Yes!” they almost shouted. Turns out Tiffany, Lydia, and Faith live in Indianola, near us in Des Moines, and they love P!NK, too! They confessed that they were betting each other on whether we two septuagenarians were heading to the concert, and they were even more surprised to hear all I had to say about P!NK’s music and her career.
I consider myself P!NK’s #1 fan – of a certain age. Last Monday, Aug. 21, was the fourth time I’ve seen P!NK in person. She never disappoints.
P!NK’s fantastic entrance for the concert in Omaha. Note her riding a trapeze, emerging up high from the “mouth” above the stage. A huge video screen at the rear of the stage provides a close-up view from her. She was lowered to the platform as the crowd roared. (Photos by Mary Riche)
I think of her as a poet who seems almost fearless in writing deeply personal lyrics. She speaks her truth to power with a fierceness while pushing unjust social boundaries. She is refreshingly direct when answering questions during interviews or appearances. Her concerts include surprise duets with other artists, like Brandi Carlile, who was P!NK’s opening act in Omaha. (Brandi Carlile is another of my favorites; seeing her was a big bonus.)
P!NK’s shows are non-stop fun, and there’s nothing like singing along with 30,000 other folks to “get the party started” and “raise a glass” while believing we are “perfect, just perfect” to her, even when “girls just wanna have rights, so why do we have to fight?” when we “gotta get up and try try try again” to feeling “we’re not broken just bent, and we can learn to love again” because we are “never gonna not dance again.”
Her personality glows when she’s performing. I love watching her prance around the stage while she chatters away between songs. She commented immediately on the heat – it was 92 degrees when she began her show at 9 p.m., and still at 90 degrees when it ended at 11:10 p.m. She announced “the drinking game” of the evening would be “hydration” and each time she squealed, we were all to take a drink of water. Good advice. The intermittent slight breeze did little to cool us off.
The temperature had NO effect on P!NK’s performance or on my total delight to be in that crowd.
At 11 p.m., she put on her safety harness and sang her final song. As she did, P!NK soared overhead, as high as the roof over the double-decked grandstand, high above the baseball diamond on the stadium floor, smiling and laughing while twisting and twirling as she sang one of her anthem tunes “So What? I’m Still a Rock Star.” She circled high above the stadium again and again, giving all of us a closer glimpse of this talented musician who has been writing and turning out hits for almost 25 years. My fandom of P!NK was intact.
P!NK flying above the stadium in the concert finale.
And I was blissed out all over again with my husband — for sweating it out with me as he stood and swayed while I danced and sang along all night with P!NK.
Here’s how it began and developed for P!NK and me.
She first caught my attention in 2001, when she and three other women singers covered Patti LaBelle’s song “Lady Marmalade” for director Baz Luhrmann’s musical film “Moulin Rouge.” I immediately liked her voice; I was also interested in her seemingly fearless style. She was a bit edgier than my previous favorite singers – Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King. Then again, I was growing bolder and edgier while aging!
Then in January, 2010, P!NK was performing her song “Glitter in the Air.” It was a raw yet tender love song unlike any I’d ever heard. It was also a “live” performance like no other I’d seen televised at the Grammy Awards. From that moment on, I was intrigued by this woman who put on a show-stopping performance that remains one of the most talked about in Grammy history.
Almost a year ago, I decided to use some of those poetic “Glitter” lyrics as part of my wedding vows when Chuck and I married. Those lyrics spoke to me in a deeply personal way about taking risks and having the courage to be vulnerable. I leaned in. I said I do. I have no regrets and count my blessings every day. Every. Single. Day.
So, who is she?
P!NK was born Alecia Beth Moore in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in September, 1979. Her parents, Judith Moore, a nurse, and Jim Moore, a Vietnam veteran, divorced when she was a young child. She started performing in clubs in the Philadelphia area when she was 13. By the time she was 16, she was writing her own songs, was an experienced vocalist and dancer, and changed her life after surviving a drug overdose.
P!NK and Brandi Carlile doing a number together during the concert. Carlile had performed for an hour earlier as one of the opening acts.
Her performing name comes from the Steve Buscemi character “Mr. Pink” in the 1992 movie “Reservoir Dogs.” Because she was a tomboy, her friends thought the name to be a great irony, according to the International Movie Data Base. She further distinguished this new moniker by using an exclamation point to replace the letter “i” so she became P!NK. And of course, she dyed her hair pink.
P!NK moved to LA, joined a group that soon disbanded, kept singing and writing songs, changed record labels, began her solo singing career, and gained recognition with a steady stream of hits while establishing herself as a woman who wasn’t afraid to vocalize her values. She was bold at a time when the entertainment world was fascinated by looks more than substance.
She gained an octave in vocal range when she stopped smoking, about a dozen years ago. I can hear that difference in her voice today, especially when comparing it to her voice in that 2010 Grammy Awards video. And I love her voice. Her vocal range. Her ability to easily move up and down the register, hitting some high notes that could shatter glass.
P!NK and Iowa native Nate Ruess, founder of the Indie group “One,” wrote and sang one of my all-time favorite songs — “Just Give Me a Reason.” I could play this romantic duet on a loop and listen repeatedly because the lyrics are so special. Before retirement, I sometimes found them useful in my therapy practice when working with couples:
Just give me a reason, just a little bit’s enough
Just a second, we’re not broken, just bent and we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars, it’s been written in the scars on our hearts
We’re not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again.
P!NK and Ellen DeGeneres are close friends and both live in the Santa Barbara area. In 2015, Ellen asked P!NK to write the theme song for her hit TV show. “Today’s the Day,” with a catchy beat and upbeat lyrics, is one of those songs that’s tough to get out of your head after you hear it. Also, P!NK was the final musical guest on Ellen’s last show in May, 2022.
The ranch where P!NK and family now live includes a vineyard. P!NK developed her wine-making skills during COVID when she also baked bread almost daily. Her favorite red wine is marketed under the Two Wolves label, and more information is available on their website.
P!NK trained as a gymnast starting when she was four years old, practicing five days a week for eight years. That training and experience are evident when she sings and performs aerobatics while flying high above the crowds during concerts in both indoor and outdoor venues. Ironically, she got into aerials because she was afraid of heights. Today her aerobatics are legendary in the entertainment industry. To see her soaring high in the air above the crowd while singing into a live microphone is something one never forgets.
She writes protest songs that become hits. “Dear Mr. President” in 2007; “What About Us” in 2017; “Irrelevant” in 2022, written after P!NK was criticized by some politicians for voicing her anger at the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In an article, P!NK explained, “As a woman with an opinion and the fearlessness to voice that opinion, it gets very tiring when the only retort is to tell me how irrelevant I am. I am relevant because I am a human being. No one is irrelevant. And no one can take away my voice.” (Girls just wanna have rights, so why do we have to fight?)
The song “Just Say I’m Sorry” from her latest album is one of the 2023 nominees for the first ever “People’s Choice Country Awards.” P!NK wrote and performed this hit with another of my favorites, Chris Stapleton. Winners will be announced in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry House on Sept. 28. (Just say I’m sorry; it’s not the hardest thing to do. Just say you’re wrong sometimes and I’d believe you ‘cause I love you.)
Alecia/P!NK met her husband Carey Jason Hart, a champion motocross racer, in 2001. Hart was born in July, 1975, and has been an American off-road truck racer, professional freestyle motocross competitor, and former motorcycle racer. They got together; split up; reconciled; she proposed to him in 2005; they married January 7, 2006 in Costa Rica; separated for a couple years in 2008; reconciled in 2010, and her songs let us fans know what’s happening to them on a “real time” basis! They have both publicly stated the importance of marriage therapy in their relationship.
Carey and the children travel with P!NK when she is on tour, and the documentary “All I Know” is a behind-the-scenes look at P!NK as she balances family and life on the road, leading up to her first Wembley Stadium in London performance in 2019’s “Beautiful Trauma” world tour. It’s available to stream on Amazon Prime.
In June, 2011, Willow Sage Hart was born. In 2021, Willow and P!NK released their duet “Cover Me in Sunshine.” Willow has joined her mom on stage in an acrobatic performance that was adorable! Willow also starred in local California musical productions of “Grease” and “High School Musical.”
Willow is not allowed to have a cell phone. “She has a little watch she can text me if she needs to get picked up a littler later or sooner and she has all the emergency stuff,” P!NK said in one interview. “I told her if you can produce literature for me, from a reliable source, that tells me that social media is good for you, then you can be on it.”
In December, 2016, Jameson Moon Hart was born. In a recent interview, P!NK said she thought Willow could be an attorney. “And that’s good because her brother is going to need one in his crazy life.” He loves to skateboard and ride motocross already; both parents have written often about his high energy escapades, some with video footage that I find frightening!
P!NK performing on center stage with a team of gymnasts, while the big video screens on the sides of the stage provide close-ups.
Earlier this year, P!NK was named the iHeartRadio Icon award-winner. I listened intently to her acceptance speech and concluded that Alecia has done significant work resulting in some inspiring personal growth. She began with this declaration: “Usually, I make some self-deprecating comments. Tonight, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to be a better friend to myself. I’m going to say something honest.”
She continued, “Every room I walk into my heart walks in first. Every lyric I write is my heart crying, raging, hoping, screaming. pleading. You have watched me do this, sifting through life’s messiness for the past almost 25 years. Some of you find what I do annoying. Some of you find it brave. I just find it necessary.
“We spend our lives running from vulnerability. Vulnerability is the ability to be wounded. I have decided to make vulnerability my life’s work. To those of you around the world who have joined me, thank you.”
At that moment, I felt like I was alone in a room with Alecia and she was talking directly to me. A powerful moment, similar to those moments at my Plymouth Church in Des Moines when it feels like the pastor has said something like he or she is talking directly and personally to me! Chilling and exhilarating all at the same time.
Like Alecia/P!NK, I’ve been experiencing a deeper level of vulnerability in the past year. There have been no direct wounds though there have been some moments where that level of vulnerability went to the deepest recesses of my heart and soul. With prayer and lots of long walks, I’ve been able to find my “inner courage to be vulnerable,” as professor and author Brene Brown calls it. I remain upright, recalibrated and balanced. Most importantly, I have figuratively been throwing fists full of glitter in the air!
Alecia/P!NK closed her acceptance speech for that iHeart Icon award by pointing to her heart and then to her children, Willow and Jameson, who were in the audience. To them she said, “Most of all, Willow and Jameson, I’m so grateful to be your mama.”
And so, in the words of my poet songwriter friend P!NK, I close by asking you:
Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face and said I just don’t care?
Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight?
Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself
Will it ever get better than tonight?
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