A ‘Midwest Princess’ comes to town

Pop singer Chappell Roan taps into a drag-inspired persona for her over-the-top visuals. (Photo: Ryan Clemens)

By Mathany Ahmed

By the time 25-year-old Chappell Roan dropped her debut album, “The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess,” last October, her career had already had its share of highs and lows. The Missouri-born musician went viral on YouTube as a teen and, at 17, signed with Atlantic Records. A few years later, the label dropped her — the same week as a break-up.

Things are going much better for the pop singer and songwriter now. She’s opening for Olivia Rodrigo’s “Guts” tour and headlining a tour of her own, which visits the Val Air Ballroom on Sunday night.

Her “Midwest Princess” album is racking up millions of online plays and is filled with triumphant, danceable beats that often contrast with the toxic love lessons laid out in the lyrics. “I just wanna get to know ya,” she sings in “Red Wine Supernova.” “Guess I didn’t quite think it through. Fell in love with the thought of you. Now I’m choked up, face down, burnt out.”

In her music videos and concerts, she often channels what she calls a “tacky pop star,” blending glittery makeup, big red hair and visuals that call to mind Hannah Montana with drag-queen flair. Roan identifies as queer and weaves her personal experiences and perspectives into her music, with tracks like “Pink Pony Club” about her first visit to a gay club.

Each stop on the “Midwest Princess” tour features local drag queens, and $1 from every ticket supports For the Gworls, a nonprofit that serves Black trans and nonbinary people.

If you’re new to Roan, Sunday’s concert could be just the right introduction. As she points out in “Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl,” “You know what they say: Never waste a Friday night on a first date.”

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