TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER SHE HAD last topped the Billboard Hot 100, Cher scored her fourth No. 1 with "Believe" on March 13, 1999 - setting the record for the longest gap between first-place finishes on the chart.
The California native's career began in the 1960s as a backup singer on a number of Phil Spector-produced recordings, but she found real fame as one-half of the husband-and-wife duo Sonny & Cher. After a messy divorce in the mid-1970s, Cher emerged as a solo star and an Oscar-winning actress (for 1987's Moonstruck).
"Believe," which famously asks, "Do you believe in life after love?," was one of the first pop smashes to feature Auto-Tune and pitch correction for vocal effect. After watching British singer-songwriter Andrew Roachford perform with a vocoder, Cher asked co-producer Mark Taylor to introduce a similar element to "Believe," and he tinkered with the studio's pitch machine to achieve the song's robotic-sounding vocal.
Cher was satisfied, but she encountered another hurdle in her record label, who hesitated to release a song that masked the star's recognizable voice. Her reply, per The New York Times in 1999? "You can change that part of it, over my dead body. And that was the end of the discussion."
"Believe" made Cher, then 52, the oldest woman to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100. It also became the top song of 1999 and won a Grammy Award for best dance recording.
Cher continues to record, tour and act. She currently stars in the residency Classic Cher, with dates in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.