TRAVERSE CITY — Jessica Newham had already filed away a conversation with her manager when he sprang the big surprise: Newham, who performs as Betty Who, will open for pop superstar Katy Perry on the Australia leg of Perry’s Prismatic tour this fall.
Newham, 22, is a rising pop star whose family has a home in Interlochen. She is working on her first release for RCA Records.
Her team kept her in suspense about the tour because "they didn’t want me to get my hopes up,” Newham said. “I have a lot of mutual friends with Katy. I’ve heard she’s a fan, but I’m not big enough to open for her and I understand that.
“But then we were performing in Vancouver and my manager Skyped me and the band that we’d been initially booked.”
Newham will support Perry on the tour beginning Nov. 7 in Perth, Australia, Newham’s native country. But first she’ll return to her alma mater, Interlochen Center for the Arts, to perform on the summer arts festival.
The June 23 concert in Corson Auditorium likely will be a sell-out, said Christopher Gruits, executive director of Interlochen Presents. The next time local audiences see Newham she may be famous.
“A lot of what Interlochen tries to do, in addition to bringing really established artists to the community, is to look for up-and-coming artists, rising stars in different genres to give local audiences a chance to see them,” Gruits said. “Like Betty Who. You’ll see in the next year or two she’ll be in a very different level. The fact that we’re presenting her a couple years before is great because, a lot of times, if artists have a good experience here they want to come back.”