In the three years since Ariana Grande last played Fresno, a lot has changed for the 22-year-old actress turned pop singer.
At the time, Grande was booked for the Saturday afternoon show at The Big Fresno Fair as an “emerging teen-pop star.” She was mostly known from her role as Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon series “Victorious.” She had yet to release her debut album “Yours Truly” or its 2014 follow-up “My Everything.” The show was of note mostly because of Ryan Beatty, a local singer, opened for Grande.
Fast forward to Monday, Aug. 31, when Grande returns to Fresno as a full-on pop diva, with her own headlining tour, a string of No. 1 hits and some social media drama for good measure. Grande’s “The Honeymoon” tour plays 7:30 p.m. at Save Mart Center.
“Ariana’s appeal is fierce. The powerful vocals that explode from her petite frame are alluring and command mainstream attention,” says Nicole Giordano with the radio station Y101FM. “Her performance style is super flirty with a versatile music background.”
Grande was No. 24 on Maxim’s Hot 100 list.
Grande’s powerful vocals have earned her quick comparisons to Mariah Carey and her debut album showcased a fondness for Carey’s brand of ’90s soul music. Her second album incorporated more elements of hip-hop and EDM — just listen to “Problem,” her collaboration with Iggy Azalea.
“When you take those soaring, but sweet vocals and pair them with eclectic instrumentation, the sound is thundering,” Giordano says.
It has proved successful.
Grande was a force in 2014. She recorded the most Top 10 singles for the year in collaborations with Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd and Zedd. She won an American Music Award, MTV Video Music Award and IHeartRadio’s Young Influencer Award. She was also nominated for seven Billboard Music awards and two Grammys.
Grande started her career on Broadway, where she debuted in the role of Charlotte in the musical “13.” It was the role of Cat Valentine that made Grande a household name. She played the role for four season on “Victorious” and for one season of the spin-off show “Sam and Cat.”
Of course, the actress really wanted to be a singer, and Grande used her name recognition, along with a massive on fan base on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram (where she has 39.1 million and 41.7 million followers respectively) to ink a deal with Republic Records in 2011.
Mostly, the singer has been able to make a clean transition from teen idol to pop diva.
Grande was No. 24 on the Hot 100 reader’s choice list in the June/July 2015 issue of Maxim, but she retains a youthful innocence in her public persona — the July 4 doughnut-licking tirade notwithstanding. Grande made public apologies after a video leaked of her licking doughnuts and saying she hated Americans inside a store in Southern California. According to a recent report from Q Scores, the company that polls Americans for opinions on brands and celebrities, she had a major Q rating shift following the incident, known as #donutgate.
47.1 million people follow Ariana Grande on Instagram
Still, Grande has no shortage of fans, even with those who may not understand the lyrical intricacies of a song like “Love Me Harder.” That includes students in Keri Swobe’s four-grade class at River Bluff Elementary School. In advance of Grande’s performance, the class wrote letters to the singer in hopes that she would visit the school during her trip to Fresno.
According to the letters, Grande is an inspiration and role model to many of the students.
Swobe has no doubt Grande is a talented singer and was a great children’s star. She wouldn’t call herself a fan.
“I am a fan of these children. And anything that gets them excited and writing, that is cool,” Swobe says.
According to her publict, Grande was not available to visit the school due her touring road schedule.
You won’t see me bumping Grande on a Saturday night with my pals, but I do believe the girl has got some mad singing chops.
Nicole Giordano with Y101FM
- 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31
- Save Mart Center
- Tickets: $20-$69.50
- (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com