'I appreciate my provincial upbringing,' the Michigan-born pop culture icon explained by phone Friday, June 17, from her home in New York City. She’s preparing for her Rebel Heart Tour, which begins Sept. 9 in Montreal and will bring Madonna back home on Oct. 1 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
The Bay City-born Madonna (nee Ciccone) - who was raised in Pontiac and Rochester Hills, graduating from Rochester Adams High School - ruffled local feathers when she referred to the 'basic, provincial-thinking people' of her hometown during a March interview with Howard Stern on SiriusXM satellite radio. The remark even prompted an open letter from Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett defending the area.
Madonna, 56, who studied dance for one semester at the University of Michigan before moving to New York, says she hasn’t read Barnett’s letter but expressed a bit more pride about her roots on Friday.
'To me it’s really important that I came from the Midwest,' she explained, 'with my father and people that I was surrounded with, very strong work ethic and my practical approach to work, and not a lot of frills.'
'I don’t think I would be as creative as I am if I’d grown up surrounded by everything at my fingertips. The fact that I came from a small town in the Midwest has a lot to do with the kind of open notebook that I had to start my journey of creativity.'
That journey has continued with 'Rebel Heart,' Madonna’s 13th studio album - which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts in March - and will take its next step with the tour, which she promised will be one of her characteristically theatrical spectacles, featuring songs from throughout her 32-year Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recording career, with plenty of challenging choreography and provocative imagery.
'I’m still working my way through the set list,' said Madonna, who’s working on the show with a team of creative directors, choreographers and costume designers. 'The name of the tour, Rebel Heart, starts the party and then I think, ‘What’s a strong beginning? What’s the statement I want to make?’ and then we go on a journey from there.'
The theme of the show, she added, will be 'romance.'
'Love. Living for love. Being a rebel heart. Living for love. They’re all kind of intertwined, you know - rising above, believing in your dreams, overcoming heartbreak, things like that,' Madonna said. 'You know, the simple things in life.'
And while fans wonder if she can still perform at the level she has in the past, Madonna, whose daughter, Lourdes, begins her second year at U-M this fall, said they won’t be disappointed.
'I have a very disciplined life,' she said. 'I don’t do a lot of socializing. My life revolves around my show and my children and trying to live a very healthy lifestyle. The only thing I’m lacking right now is sleep - as always.'