Jordin Sparks in Transition, Just Now ‘Discovering Who I Am’

Jordin Sparks segues from the New Kids On the Block/Backstreet Boys tour to a special engagement in Washington, D.C. this coming week, performing on PBS’s live “A Capitol Fourth” Independence Day celebration concert. (Check local listings.) Talk about a sudden change.

“It’s going to be so different — from the wardrobe to the audience to the stage. The thing that’s going to be the same is that I’m going to try to perform the best that I can,” says Jordin, who recently shed 30 pounds and is looking gorgeous. She’s singing “Beauty and the Beast” — accompanying a dance by Mark Ballas and Chelsie Hightower in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Disney animated classic. She is also set to sing the national anthem — one of the two most nerve-wracking performances she can imagine, she says, the other being a return to “American Idol.”

“I’ll be on the on the steps of the Capitol building, in our nation’s Capitol, singing the National Anthem on the day of our nation’s independence,” she points out. It doesn’t get much more American than that. The concert, hosted by Jimmy Smits, also features Steve Martin, Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison, Little Richard and Broadway’s Kelli O’Hara.

At 21, the youngest-ever “American Idol” winner (she won at age 17) feels her newly-svelte shape is part of a metamorphosis she’s undergoing that has to do with, well, growing up. “I’m just now discovering who I am and what I can do. It’s a transition. I’m coming into my own. I sort of have a different approach onstage now. The dancing, the choreography is definitely different from what I did last year,” she tells us. “It’s been really fun, discovering who I am and what I can do.”

Jordin Sparks I Am Woman

Her saucy “I Am Woman,” with its driving beat, is completely different for her, Jordin points out. It’s also completely different from the Helen Reddy feminist anthem of the same name decades ago. (Sample lyric: “It ain’t easy walkin’ in stilettos, but somebody gotta do it.”) Combined with the right video — one has yet to be made — it could capture the zeitgeist for the young 2010s woman in a big way. Jordin loves seeing girls get up and dance to it at concerts, as they have been.

She’ll soon take off on a string of one-off dates, then a Euro trip.  As for what’s next after that? “I did Broadway for a couple of months last fall — In the Heights. I loved it. I’d love to do Broadway again if the right part and story came along.” She’s also been working on her acting skills, and says, “I’d love to do a TV show or a movie.”