Thalia ready to get out in front of a crowd again

Thalia Sodi has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, performed in front of President Barack Obama at the White House and sang a duet with Tony Bennett on his 2012 album “Viva Duets,” but to much of the English-speaking media, the 41-year-old Mexican pop star and former Spanish soap opera actress — known simply as Thalia — is just the wife of Mariah Carey’s ex-husband Tommy Mottola, the former head of Sony Music.

“The English-speaking media asks me more about Tommy, what happened with Sony, his ex-wife,” Thalia said by phone Monday from New York, when asked to compare the English- and Spanish-speaking media.

If Thalia is bothered by the lack of recognition, she doesn’t show it. She thinks it’s funny that, for instance, the mothers at her daughter’s New York school were thrilled that she performed with Michael Buble on his 2011 NBC Christmas special (“Oh my God, you met Michael Buble!”), and that her daughter’s classmates were in awe of her appearance on Nickelodeon’s “Dora The Explorer” last year.

Thalia y Prince Royce en Nueva York

It also helps that Thalia has little reason to feel insecure. She has more than 4.6 million Twitter followers who are likely well aware of her accomplishments, including 11 solo studio albums.

(The mothers at her daughter’s school will be happy to hear that her album “Habitame Siempre” (Live in Me Always) featured another duet with Buble, and one with British pop star Robbie Williams.)

Sunday at the Vic Theatre, Thalia will kick off her first concert tour in nearly a decade. Why a venue that holds 1,400 people? Because, she said, she likes the intimacy of smaller venues. And why has it been nearly a decade since she toured? That’s a more complicated question.

During that time, Thalia contracted Lyme disease (2008) and coped with the kidnapping of two of her sisters (2002; one was released after 18 days, the other 34 days) and the death of her mother (2011). She also gave birth to her daughter (2007) and son (2011).

Thalia performed on occasion, including for her 2009 live album, “Primera Fila” (First Row). And she did travel to promote her 2011 memoir “Growing Stronger,” appearing at Giron Books on W. 18th Street. But going on a concert tour that will include stops in the U.S., Latin America and, potentially, Europe?

“There’s some anxiety the 30 minutes before the show starts,” Thalia said of performing live. “But once you step on stage and face the people, everything goes away and you have fun and enjoy the audience.”

Prince with Thalia

Thalia’s last tour took place not long after the release of her only English album to date, 2003’s “Thalia” (the album featured a duet with rapper Fat Joe, “I Want You,” that peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100). She admitted promoting the crossover album in her second language wasn’t easy.

“I would get nervous,” Thalia said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have to get rid of my accent.'”

Now Thalia is more comfortable with the language and has taken a more carefree attitude to interviews in English.

“I’m more relaxed,” she said. “I know I have difficulties with some verbs. But if they get me, they get me. And if they don’t understand me, they don’t understand me.”

Chicago Tribune