Justin Timberlake, if anyone, might be considered a Renaissance man. He certainly qualifies as a singer-songwriter-dancer-actor-SNL-comedian. He has definitely climbed a lot of rungs to fame since his days as a Mouseketeer, when he cavorted alongside other future performers Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell and JC Chasez.
On Thursday Timberlake will make his first solo headlining appearance in central Arkansas, although he was here (when Verizon Arena was Alltel Arena) with 'NSYNC in 2000, and he performed with Aguilera a couple of years later.
The Memphis native, who will turn 38 on Jan. 31, is bringing his The Man of the Woods Tour for a show that will feature an impressively designed setting, with a catwalk that stretches the length of the arena's floor and will include a performance area surrounded by a bar for those willing to spring for the extremely high-dollar tickets needed for seats there.
The tour takes its name from Timberlake's fifth studio album, Man of the Woods, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in February. In late October, Timberlake announced the postponement of six December shows, explaining that "my vocal cords are severely bruised. ... I'm gonna make this up to you." He began his 2019 touring at the Capitol One Arena in Washington on Jan. 4.
As did many a musician, Timberlake got his start singing in church, perhaps thanks to having a father who was the choir director at Shelby Forest Baptist Church.
He'd watch TV shows like Star Search and The All-New Mickey Mouse Club and later perform on them.
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Verizon Arena, North Little Rock
Opening act: Francesco Yates
At one step of a series of auditions, Timberlake was asked why he wanted to be on The Mickey Mouse Club, to which he replied, "I'm in for the money."
He later formed one of the most successful "boy bands" -- 'NSYNC -- with Chasez, and the group rode high on pop music charts from 1995 to 2002, when they announced a temporary hiatus that never ended. Wasting no time, Timberlake launched his solo career in 2002, releasing his debut album, Justified, which went on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide
In 2003, he filmed Justin Timberlake Down Home in Memphis, a concert special at the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street, and when he was asked who he wanted to sing with him, he chose one of his idols, who also happened to live in his Shelby Forest neighborhood: the Arkansas-born Al Green. (Years later the two singers had an impromptu Grammy performance together.)
Invited to perform with Janet Jackson on the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show in Houston, Timberlake became part of Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction," which led to his apology at that year's Grammy Awards, where he accepted awards for best pop vocal album for Justified and best male pop vocal performance for one of the album's singles, "Cry Me a River."
Two years later, he released his second album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, which became No. 1 in its first week on the Billboard 200 chart. As with his first album, it sold more than 10 million copies.
He began to realize his comedic potential in 2003 when he and Jimmy Fallon combined in a SNL skit as Bee Gees brothers Barry and Robin Gibb. Even more famously, he hosted the show three years later, also collaborating with Andy Samberg on a certain "box-related" skit, which was named by Rolling Stone magazine as No. 3 on its "50 Greatest Saturday Night Live Sketches of All Time."
Timberlake next took on acting, with starring roles in the films The Social Network, Friends With Benefits and In Time. There were also roles in Black Snake Moan, The Open Road and Inside Llewyn Davis, and he provided the voice for the lead animated character in Trolls in 2016.
Albums three and four, The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience -- 2 of 2, both came out in 2013, and the first of that pair inspired such critical acclaim as this from Los Angeles Times music critic Mikael Wood (son of legendary Little Rock DJ Tom Wood) who "found its elaborate structure ambitious in the vein of Stevie Wonder, Prince and Michael Jackson."
The 20/20 Experience Tour in 2015 became a film for Netflix, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, directed by the late Jonathan Demme.
His tours have become legendary successes, with the FutureSex/Love Show the highest grossing solo tour of 2007 and 2014 20/20 Experience World Tour the highest grossing solo tour of 2014. He has sold more than 32 million albums worldwide, won 10 Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards and 11 MTV Video Music Awards.
Then came yet another challenge for Timberlake: his first book, Hindsight & All the Things I Can't See in Front of Me, published Oct. 30 by HarperCollins.
In the book's introduction, Timberlake writes "I called this book Hindsight because it is a long look backward and a deep look inward into everything I am, and how those things connect to where I came from, who I am now, and who I hope to become. It's how it feels when I'm onstage, and you're seeing me, and I'm seeing you. It's wanting to be more present, more soulful and more humble. It's the ways being a father changed things, and wondering how my son will see me and see himself as he grows."
The almost coffee-table-size book is filled with his memories and reflections, color and black and white photos, some of which fill two pages. The son he referred to, Silas, was born in April 2015 to Timberlake and wife Jessica Biel, whom he married in 2012, after having had previous relationships with Spears and Cameron Diaz.
His reflections reveal what drives him ever onward: "I feel lucky to have found something that I can do that links me to people all over the world. It's a crazy thing. I write a song in a room and I record it and I sing it the way that I sing, because that's the only way I can really do it. Twelve months later, I'm in an arena and I'm performing. I can never forget that I was there for the creation of this song when I look out and see all these people from all walks of life, and the whole room is singing. All these people, there together, singing a song that I wrote.
"It's a heavy thing, man. It's enough to get really high off of. I've even been moved to tears. That was another life-changing moment for me: when I realized that people didn't only listen to you sing, that they would sing with you, too."
On Thursday, Justin Timberlake returns to Verizon Arena, where he previously performed with ’NSYNC and Christina Aguilera.
Style on 01/15/2019
Print Headline: Tennessee Titan: Multitalented Justin Timberlake returns to North Little Rock on Man of the Woods Tour