By Jessica Wheeler, AliveTampaBay Columnist
Whether as a member of No Doubt or as a solo artist, Gwen Stefani’s colorful style and vibrant music have been drawing fans for more than two decades. While she invites comparisons to Madonna and Debbie Harry, Stefani has made herself into a unique artist. In honor of her upcoming July 26 show with Eve at Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater, here are five things to know about Gwen Stefani.
1. Her success with No Doubt was hard-earned.
Stefani was just 17 when she joined No Doubt, a band put together by her brother, in 1986. It took five years for the band to get a record deal, and another four for their big break. That break came with their third album, 1995’s Tragic Kingdom, which eventually sold more than 16 million copies and spawned several hit singles. Stefani’s lyrics were personal and confessional, endearing her to many young fans.
2. Her solo career began with a nod to her high school favorites.
After the success of No Doubt’s ska-pop sound, Stefani looked in another direction for her first solo album, 2004’s Love. Angel. Music. Baby. She wanted to embrace the sounds she had loved as a teenager, including new wave, catchy pop, and lots of synthesizers. The result was a smashing success, paving the way for a solo career that continues today.
3. Some of her finest moments have been collaborations with Eve.
Stefani and her touring partner, Eve, have collaborated on such hit singles as “Rich Girl” and “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” collecting Grammy awards for both artists in the process.
4. She holds a unique honor for the digital age.
Stefani had the first US music download to sell more than a million copies, with “Hollaback Girl.” The feat marked the turning point in importance from physical copies of music to digital downloads, which in turn led to the rise of streaming music.
5. Appearing on The Voice exposed her to a new generation of fans.
During her stint as a coach on The Voice, Stefani reached a new level of fame. In the aftermath of her appearance on the hit show, she released her third solo album, This is What the Truth Feels Like, which debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard Charts. It was the first of her solo albums to reach that spot, demonstrating that her career is still on the rise.