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Jim Cooper, Associated Press
Black-Eyed Peas, from left, Fergie, Taboo, apl.de.ap and will.i.am.

Melody Thornton is looking forward to coming to Salt Lake City.

"I have family in Utah," Thornton said during a phone call from Los Angeles as she was on her way to rehearsal. "My sister lives in Phoenix and she said she was going to fly to Salt Lake and meet up with everyone to see the show."

Thornton is a member of the six-woman pop group The Pussycat Dolls, which she joined in August 2005.

"I was familiar with the group from MTV with their spot with Christina Aguilera," said Thornton. "And I knew what they were about. Then I saw an ad on MTV that called for girls to audition for the group in Burbank. So I went down there and got the job."

Thornton expected the auditions would be like "American Idol."

"I thought there would be a million people sleeping outside and all that," she said with a laugh. "But in reality there were a few hundred people there. And it wasn't as intense as I thought."

The singer said she wasn't nervous going into the whole thing.

"I was more anxious," she said. "And when I found out I was accepted, I wanted to meet everyone. I love meeting new people and getting connected. I have a sister and I need that companionship. So, getting into The Pussycat Dolls was a step in that direction."

The Pussycat Dolls made their debut in 1995, with other members, including the group's executive producer/founder Robin Antin. The current lineup — Thornton, Nicole Scherzinger, Carmit Bachar, Ashley Roberts, Jessica Sutta and Kimberly Wyatt — came together in 2004.

Scherzinger was a member of the girl group Eden's Crush. Sutta was a captain for the Miami Heat dancers, Bachar toured with Ricky Martin and Roberts and Wyatt were dancing in L.A.

Thornton, however, had always focused on singing. "I'm the only one in the group who isn't a trained dancer. So there lies my biggest hardship. I can't watch the choreography and pick it up like the rest of the girls. My build is more athletic. So I have to work harder to get the steps down."

What she lacks in natural dance ability, Thornton makes up with singing.

"I grew up with a singing family," she said. "I was raised on blues and Motown — Jackson 5, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Marvin Gaye.

"But as I got older, I found other music for myself. It's a mix with Neo Soul and pop. Right now I'm into Music Soul Child. And I'll always have a place in me for Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I mean, those two were the pop stars for me."

After the Dolls recorded their first album, "PCD," which has since gone platinum, Thornton had an idea of how good it was.

"I don't want to be biased, but I knew it was going to be successful," she said. "It had some good catchy tunes and nice melodies.

"What took me a little by surprise was how fast it caught on."

The album is currently No. 30 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Charts. It peaked at No. 5 and has been on the charts for 33 weeks.

With the charting album and singles — "Don't Cha," "Beep," "Stickwitu" and the new one, "Buttons," featuring Snoop Dogg — the Dolls have been busy.

"We appeared on 'Dancing With the Stars,' and doing this tour with the Black Eyed Peas and we're also doing 'The Tonight Show,' " said Thornton. "I really enjoyed doing 'Dancing with the Stars.' We did the song 'Sway,' which we recorded for the movie 'Shall We Dance?' with Jennifer Lopez. So, that was meaningful to me. And I had a small appearance in the movie. So that made it more meaningful."

Thornton said The Pussycat Dolls do have eyes on the future.

"We definitely will make another album. Like all musical groups, there are contracts that we need to fulfill. But we will be around for a while."

If you go

What: Black Eyed Peas, Pussycat Dolls

Where: E Center

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

How much: $35

Phone: 467-8499 or 800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com


E-mail: [email protected]