BY TRICIA DESPRES | FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
She was only 18 years old when she walked through the doors of the Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center in south suburban Lemont, Ill., feeling fragile and broken and battling an eating disorder and other health-related issues that were causing the rising starlet to crumble.
Demi Lovato was attempting to save a life that was falling apart — her own.
Four years later, the triple threat that is Demi Lovato finds herself back in Chicago, looking healthy and happy and determined to not look back and dwell in the past.
“Recently, and especially with this tour, I am trying focus on the future and all of the wonderful things going on in my life rather than reflect on the past,” Lovato ssaid during a recent interview. “I want to show people that letting go of the past is just as important as living with it.”
She is truly ready to move on with her life.
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 14
Where: United Center, 1901 W. Madison
“The song I find myself singing the most to myself right now is Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’,” she laughs. “It is so catchy.”
And while she may seem quite carefree these days, Lovato says she remains keenly aware of the millions of people who’ve been touched by her story, so much so that she made the conscious decision to feature an opening act that would make an impression on her fans each night.
“Ever since I first heard Spencer [West[ share his story, I was incredibly moved,” she explains of her opening act and motivational speaker, whose legs were amputated below the pelvis when he was five-years-old due to a genetic disorder. “I wanted to do something a little different with my tour this time around and thought Spencer would make a great addition. The goal was for every one of my fans to leave my show feeling a little more motivated and inspired.”
Indeed, Lovato has essentially made her tour date at the United Center on Tuesday night and the rest of her upcoming shows both in the U.S. and the United Kingdom a motivational session of sorts,
“I don’t think of it as a burden. …I’m just lucky to be in a position where I can use my voice to help others,” explained Lovato, whose music video for her latest hit single “Really Don’t Care” was filmed at L.A. Pride where she served as grand marshal and performed. “What helps me stay strong is keeping the right company and surrounding myself with supportive people.”
And despite some well publicized bumps in the road, Lovato seems to have successfully transitioned from her days with a certain purple dinosaur and her years as a Disney darling to standing tall as a strong 22-year -ld whose business career is becoming just as strong as her musical career.
“I certainly have a lot going on at the moment, but all of my business endeavors are passions of mine,” explained Lovato, who is juggling everything from tour sponsorships to skin care lines to new books.
“For me, it’s important that I truly believe in anything I put my name on. There’s always a strong level of commitment. The thing I’ve learned the most about the business side of the music business is you need to have fun with it! As long as you enjoy what you do, it will never be ‘work’.”
Tricia Despres is a local freelance writer.