By Greg Carannante
City & Shore Magazine
This summer marks the 50th anniversary of an event of epic cultural significance. And I don’t mean Woodstock.
I mean the birth of Jennifer Lopez.
That’s right, JLo turns 50 on July 24 — which just happens to be the off-day before her “It’s My Party” tour climaxes with three shows in Miami July 25-27. It’s not hard to guess where she’ll be blowing out her candles, seeing as she calls Miami “our city … our second home.”
“I can’t think of a better way to spend this big 50th birthday — it’s a big deal,” she said about the 25-city tour on NBC’s Today. “The opportunity came up and I thought, ‘Why don’t we make it a big celebration?’”
And she’ll have a lot to celebrate. The Bronx’s Jenny From the Block homegirl who’s simultaneously considered America’s most influential Latin performer has been basking in the glow of her first tour in eight years — popular demand even drew a third show at Miami’s American Airlines Arena.
Plus, after two years of dating, ex-baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez, 43, recently took a knee to propose marriage. J-Rod is the grownup celebrity mashup of the moment, both of them embracing their blended family of his two daughters and her 11-year-old twins. As if that wasn’t enough, Lopez, whose parents came from Puerto Rico, has a net worth estimated at more than $300 million.
Following up on her three-year, $100-million-grossing “All I Have” Las Vegas residency, early reviews of her first national-headlining tour affirm JLo is making good on her promise of “a nonstop party mix of new and classic anthems, show-stopping choreography and dancers, dazzling wardrobe, jaw-dropping technology and set design.”
“It’s an extravaganza,” Lopez has said.
If any performer has the skill set to deliver that kind of wow-factor, it’s definitely the triple-threat with the three-letter name — and could there be a triple-threat bigger than JLo? Since breaking into the national consciousness in 1997’s Selena, she’s enjoyed A-list success in movies, music and TV — and if you throw in her dance chops, bump her up to the rare quadruple-threat.
Lopez’s films have brought in more than $3 billion worldwide, and she has sold more than 80 million records and 40 million albums, becoming the first female artist to receive a Billboard Icon Award. On American Idol, she stole the show as the judge with a heart. She now produces her own show, NBC’s World of Dance.
And 20 years after her debut album, On the 6, and five years after her last, A.K.A., Lopez is making new music. Medicine, a collaboration with rapper French Montana, got a Steve Aoki remix and video in May that shows off her moves on the stripper pole, no doubt a calculated preview of her upcoming movie, Hustlers, about a crew of savvy strippers.
Which bring us to another of her diverse skills: balancing an incandescent, sassy-sweet personality with a still-voluptuous, bootylicious persona. From the sensual rhythms of her music and moves to her top-to-bottom dazzle, JLo couldn’t NOT be sexy if she tried. That doesn’t mean she tries: Reference the aforementioned video, or her 2014 video for Booty, which stars her celebrated eponymous body part in a quick-cut barrage of suggestive contortions. And Pitbull, famously an authority in such matters, introduces JLo as “the mami with the sexiest body” in his 2017 Sexy Body video, which amply features hers.
But for female fans, JLo possesses a quality that’s about much more than sex appeal. Realizing this would be better expressed by one of them, I asked my friend Christina Parker what JLo means to her.
“Jennifer Lopez is my homegirl done good — relatable, yet living my dream life,” says the honors English teacher at Pembroke Pines Charter High School. “We’re close in age and both from the Northeast. I’ve followed her career since she was a Fly Girl on In Living Color.
“We’ve each had failed marriages and several more relationships. I admire how hopeful she remains despite so much heartache.”
For JLo, it doesn’t appear there’ll be much occasion for heartache these days. She’s looking at Rodriguez’s million-dollar bling on her finger, a full-tilt career at 50 and a three-night b-day bash with 63,000 of her closest fans in the Magic City. Happy Birthday, JLo.