Gwen Stefani Receiving Her Star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

Gwen Stefani is finishing up a hectic week and getting ready for a busy weekend on a fall Friday. “I have three boys,” she declares. Two of them are adolescents. I have Blake’s schedule; they each have their own. That would be country musician Blake Shelton, who has been her spouse for two years. She continued, “I have to coordinate with their dad and then I have ‘The Voice,'” referring to her ex-husband, rock musician Gavin Rossdale. That would be the NBC singing competition, which last year, in its 23rd season and Shelton’s final year as a coach, held two spots in the top 20 in Neilsen’s ratings for the 2022–2023 TV season. She continues, “Plus, I’m making a record.”

In three days, Stefani would spend her 54th birthday in Hawaii (although the journey there was for a concert, not to celebrate); the previous three days she had spent on the set of “The Voice,” where she had recently returned for a seventh time as a coach. That would occur the next day, on Sunday, following a football game in which both of her two oldest kids, Kingston, 17, and Zuma, 15, were participating. They attend the same school, she explains. It is really little. They hardly have enough players to field a football team at all, yet they all play together. It’s kind of her default tone when she speaks, so she says this cheerfully and a little breathlessly. She then added something that would probably make most teen football players roll their eyes: “It’s really cute.” She was hosting a combined celebration with her 14-year-old niece, with whom she shares a birthday, after the football game on Sunday. She says, “My entire family is coming over.” My mother is preparing lasagna for me.

When “action is called,” Tom Hardy cracks jokes before turning into the “most intense guy I’ve ever seen,” Austin Butler claims: I imagined him to be always serious.

Aside from her celebrity status, performances, and TV appearances, Stefani almost sounds like any other three-parent working mom. However, that severely undersells her many accomplishments throughout more than 30 years of altering public tastes and commercial changes in the music industry. Her many accomplishments include the first U.S. download to sell a million copies (“Hollaback Girl,” the No. 1 single from her debut solo album, 2004’s “Love. Angel. Music. Baby”), the first No. 1 album in the streaming era (her third solo outing, 2016’s “This Is What the Truth Feels Like”), and a 10-million-selling diamond album (No Doubt’s 1995 “Tragic Kingdom”). Stefani had her own fashion line, L.A.M.B., which ran from head to toe (glasses to shoes) and included a fragrance — one of the fashion industry’s most lucrative brand extensions — long before Rihanna launched Fenty or Louis Vuitton hired Pharrell as a creative director.

Shirley Manson, who became friends with Stefani in the heyday of alt-rock in the 1990s, says she has demonstrated over the course of three decades that she has a pretty excellent instinct for how to thrive as a female artist in a very challenging industry that provides women, for the most part, very little reverent acclaim. People were enthusiastic about Gwen from the beginning, but I don’t believe anyone quite understood how far she would go.

For a celebrity of this caliber, lasagna at home may seem like a modest birthday party. However, Stefani’s life and work have always been somewhat of a family affair. Her career will be honored on October 19 when she receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Stefani announced the imminent accolade in July by uploading a photo of herself on Instagram when she was around five years old with the remark, “Who’s gonna tell her she’s receiving a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star?!” “I feel like I’m in a dream,”

She gave a little bit of a context for the brand extension when she explained that picture. She claims that the coveralls and ruffled shirt she is wearing in the photo were sewn by her mother. My mother made most of my clothes, and her mother made all of hers. That inspired me to start sewing garments.

Stefani’s mom also created the outfit she wore during one of her very first appearances on stage, which was at a talent contest at her high school in Anaheim, California, in the middle of the 1980s. At Eric’s prompting, Stefani sang “On My Radio,” a 1979 song by the British ska revivalists the Selecter. Stefani recalls that “The Sound of Music” was her favorite movie at the time. When Maria visits the kids for the first time, she dons a particular clothing. They say it’s the worst dress they’ve ever seen as she walks in wearing the only dress she owns. So my mother and I made a copy of that clothing.

Stefani had the words of “On My Radio” in her hands and recalled being dubious whether she could even sing, but that high school talent competition was a turning point. That’s what started the fire, she now explains. When she was 17 years old, No Doubt debuted. Eric, who is two years Gwen’s senior, penned songs and played the keyboard. After witnessing them perform, Tony Kanal, who would later become Gwen’s first serious boyfriend, joined on bass. By 1989, guitarist Tom Dumont and drummer Adrian Young had also joined. No Doubt carved out a spot in the Southern California scene after being influenced by the aforementioned wave of British ska bands, which also included the Specials, Madness, and the (English) Beat, as well as California artists that were influenced by that movement (notably Fishbone). “We always had a cool audience, at that garage level, from the very first show we ever did,” she explains. We were “famous,” but only in a limited sense.

Stefani has a propensity to think of herself as “lazy-ish,” but looking back makes her understand how hard she and No Doubt worked from the beginning—especially in comparison to the quick success today’s artists can find with just one TikTok hit. When reflecting on those early days, Stefani adds, “We had time to marinate and get terrific. “Dad, may I have five dollars every Thursday and Sunday? I have to find a microphone to rent. We would then proceed to the practice space and stay there for five hours. We would restart the song at the beginning if we made a mistake. We used to record our practice sessions and watch them later. Nobody provided instructions for us. They were developing their universe, their sound, and their skill set. It was like trying really hard to play Barbies.

Her life in high school, where she struggled, was in stark contrast to the rigorous work ethic — and the fame it would bring. I had dyslexia growing up, but I don’t think people really know this about me because I didn’t realize it, the woman claims. She just became aware of her own dyslexia after assisting her own children with it. “I struggled with learning in school, so I concealed myself in many different ways. I barely graduated from college, so I don’t really know how I made it through. Despite my best efforts, I discovered a different lesson. Just to learn what everyone else was learning effortlessly required extra effort on my part.

She learnt to use this “superpower” as a songwriter as a result of her struggle, though. “That’s what made me able to problem-solve,” she claims. “There is no mold when we compose music. Nobody is forcing you to use this spelling or to insert a paragraph. You simply express your thoughts and feelings, and then the words appear in a song. The best thing ever, it communicates back to you and feels you.

No Doubt’s breakthrough, “Tragic Kingdom,” a second album that found the band developing well beyond its ska roots, was made possible by Stefani’s superpower as a songwriter. Stefani’s brother Eric left after nine years and two albums to pursue a job as an animator on “The Simpsons,” and she and Kanal had broken up. “It was a really hard time for me,” Stefani recalls. My brother and my boyfriend were pretty much the only ones I hung out with, and they both left me! So I suddenly began penning these tunes, one after the other. She channeled her annoyance into “Just a Girl” (“living in captivity”) and her sadness into “Don’t Speak” and “Spiderwebs,” three songs that became radio staples in the middle of the 1990s. They succeeded in bridging the emotional turmoil of early ’90s grunge with the pop uplift that would come to dominate by the end of the decade. They were notable for both their confessions and their catchiness.

She was alternative, but Manson claims that she also exhibited a strong pop influence in all of her work, which undoubtedly contributed to her widespread appeal. Long before Katy Perry became a skating pin-up girl, Stefani was an early adopter of the combination of athletic sexiness and Hollywood beauty, as Manson points out. She has had an impact on young ladies for generations. ‘I’m Just a Girl’ is still a major feminist song that continues to resonate with successive generations of women. Without Gwen Stefani, Taylor Swift wouldn’t exist. She has amazing songwriting talent.

Stefani was 17 when No Doubt formed, and she was 26 when “Just A Girl” catapulted her to international fame. She claims that she “was such a late bloomer in so many different ways.” “Until I was 26 years old, I lived at home. I was really incredibly ignorant; it was a pretty conservative family. Her “my own bubble”—as she put it—was where she wrote her chart-topping tunes. It was incredibly pristine. In my wildest fantasies, I never imagined that anyone would hear the song.

However, before long, the world was gazing in, jostling things around, and that bubble had transformed into a snow globe. Stefani found it harder to use her superpower of songwriting as a result of her celebrity and success. “Once that happens, you’ll never be able to have that magic again,” she claims. “Because you’re trying to please people when you write after that,” she said. Although 2001’s “Rock Steady” featured the Billboard Hot 100 No. 3 hit “Underneath It All,” produced by reggae pioneers Sly and Robbie and written from a journal entry about Stefani’s then-boyfriend Gavin Rossdale—frontman for the British band Bush, whom she would marry a year later—it was five years before the next No Doubt album, 2000’s “Return of Saturn,” which didn’t produce any new classics. Stefani went even higher, reaching No. 2 with her 2001 duet with Eve on the song “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” (produced by Dr. Dre and Scott Storch).

However, it wasn’t until Stefani released her solo albums “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” in 2004 and “The Sweet Escape” in 2006 that she managed to strike a balance between trying to please her fans and wanting to convey her personal experiences. When she felt “completely free from anyone telling me who to be, how to be,” she recalled that is when “all the rest of the songs came.” She drew inspiration from the music she had listened to growing up, including Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and — on the song “Hollaback Girl” — the sound of a marching band. She explains, “I wanted to make an album that was joyful and represented the guilty-pleasure music I loved.

She used a dream team of producers, including Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Andre 3000, to accomplish this. It was my first opportunity to work with some fantastic songwriters outside of the band, she recalls. Linda Perry, who co-wrote the album’s lead song, “What You Waiting For?” was one of them. “I just didn’t even know that world existed,” Stefani continues. Oh, there are skilled songwriters who write music professionally? What else do they do? I was such a homegirl, only working with folks I knew from my personal life.

In an early encounter, Perry challenged Stefani and the result was “What You Waiting For?,” a song that harkens back to ’80s dance rock. With its “tick tock” refrain, it came to represent Jimmy Iovine, the head of her Interscope label, who was impatient for her to launch her solo career, as well as her own uncertainty about having children. On the chorus, she sings, “Look at your watch now, You’re still a super-hot female.” At the end of January 2006, the final single from “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” was released; Kingston was born four months later.

According to Stefani, that phase was perhaps her most creative. “I was in the middle of recording albums, touring the world, and having babies, and I was just so free. I believed I was capable of anything. Stefani wouldn’t release another album for ten years after “The Sweet Escape” came out in the latter part of 2006.

Without a doubt, the environment in which “This Is What the Truth Feels Like” debuted in 2016 was significantly different. She had just completed her first season as a coach on “The Voice,” when she met Blake Shelton, who had recently ended his marriage to Miranda Lambert, another country music star. Her marriage to Rossdale had broken down. “We probably wrote a song together the first month we started talking or hanging out,” the woman claims. “It happened when we thought, ‘This is not going to happen. Who or what are we? We’re crazy. We are both damaged. We need to organize our life. Help me complete this song, he wrote and sent me this verse. I composed a verse and returned it to him. At that time, we were essentially texting each other. I sung on the song that we wrote together. The song in question was “Go Ahead and Break My Heart,” a top 20 country single that would be included on Shelton’s 2016 album “If I’m Honest.”

In her most recent song, “True Babe,” Stefani sings about Shelton while channeling her blissed-out love lust. She sings, “I wanna fly to your shows / Wanna wake up in your clothes / Come get you tipsy at 6:30.” Stefani resumed songwriting during the epidemic, working with other musicians via Zoom, and entering the studio while everyone was still using masks. Although she doesn’t currently have any concrete plans for them, she thinks that she has a stash of 30 songs.

“Of course I want to share them,” she says. And I do, she chuckles, “with my hairdresser, with my friends, and I even sent one to my sister-in-law.” God, oh, God! I composed a song! It never becomes stale. But more lately, she’s discovered a style that combines yacht rock from the 1980s with singer-songwriter music from the 1970s. I’m kind of infatuated with approximately seven tunes,” she claims. “Those are the ones I’m most eager to release,” she said.

But for the time being, it must wait. “How?” comes to mind every time I glance at my agenda.” She has football games, birthday lasagnas, concerts, and time with “the greatest guy on Earth.” However, she finds strength and perspective in reflecting on how far she has come. “I’ve had kind of a rough week,” she says. I required this.

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