It’s hard to believe that Demi Lovato is only 25 years old. After beginning her career as a child actor on Barney & Friends (!) and Disney’s Camp Rock, she transitioned to music, and has spent the last decade racking up hit albums and singles. All six of her studio records have reached the top five of the Billboard Top 200, and the top-10 showing of 2017’s “Sorry Not Sorry” marked a new singles-chart peak. This sustained success makes it easy to take Lovato for granted or underestimate her considerable talents. As she kicks off a U.S. tour with DJ Khaled and Kehlani—which stops at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 3—here are a handful of reasons you might want to snag a ticket to see her.
1. She’s a versatile vocalist During a BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge performance of “Sorry Not Sorry,” Lovato transformed the razor-edged electro-pop song into a smoky R&B/soul number. Such chameleonic tendencies help explain how she has stayed above notoriously fickle pop trends, and why she’s had no issues branching out. Her pop warble even blends in with Brad Paisley’s easygoing twang on his 2016 song “Without a Fight.”
2. Her guest appearances make songs better Lovato has a powerful voice—especially when she’s singing live—but she knows how to dial it back when collaborations call for it. She’s the perfect vocal centerpiece for Cheat Codes’ tropical EDM swerve “No Promises,” while on We the Kings’ “We’ll Be a Dream,” her piercing cameo meshes well with synth-freckled ’00s emo-pop.
3. Lovato’s music is assertive and empowering “What’s wrong with being confident?” she asks on 2015’s horn-boosted single “Confident.” Call that a career manifesto—her music is assertive about life and romantic choices. Songs address brazen sexuality (the icy synth-pop rush “Cool for the Summer”); implore a hesitant crush to be brave (“Give Your Heart a Break”); and discuss making a clean break with the past (the slow jam “You Don’t Do It for Me Anymore”).
4. Lovato is honest about her personal struggles Like many child stars shifting into adult careers, Lovato experienced bumps along the way. She once punched a backup dancer, and she has struggled with drug abuse and bulimia. Yet she isn’t shy about addressing these obstacles, and makes it a point to be vulnerable as she recovers and finds her footing. “This year I’ve decided I’m letting go of my perfectionism and embracing freedom from self-criticism,” she posted on Instagram in January. “Learning to love my body the way it is is challenging, but life-changing.”
5. She’s a vocal mental health advocate Lovato leverages her platform to raise awareness and call for better access to services. She even made a speech to this effect at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. “The more you talk about mental illness, the less of a taboo it becomes,” Lovato told American Way magazine. “As a pop star, I can say, ‘Hey, I’ve got bipolar disorder—it’s nothing that anyone can be ashamed of.’”
DEMI LOVATO with DJ Khaled, Kehlani. March 3, 7:30 p.m., $50-$500. MGM Grand Garden Arena, 702-891-7777.