Arianators, pull up a chair. If you aren’t lucky enough to secure tickets to Ariana Grande’s recently announced Sweetener tour, then the BBC has the next best thing: a world-exclusive of Grande performing her new material.
Recorded in front of a studio audience on Sept. 7, the hour-long special sees Grande, 25, perform with her band, a choir and all-female orchestra while also talking to BBC host Davina McCall about her music, life and career.
Given the date of the recording, the special doesn’t delve into the tragic death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller or Grande’s recent split from fiancé Pete Davidson nearly five months after the Saturday Night Live star, 24, proposed.
Another topic also completely off-limits: the Manchester bombing in May 2017 that killed 22. Instead, the tragedy is covered by the heartfelt reflections of Manchester locals. “The nation really, we’ve all taken you slightly under our wing because you came back,” host McCall said, perfectly capturing the grateful attitude British people have towards Grande. Clearly emotional, the singer simply replied: “Thank you.”
What’s left is a fun, insightful trip through the topsy-turvy world of Ariana Grande — plus spine-tingling performances of her hits including “Dangerous Woman” and “One More Time.” Here’s a round-up of what PEOPLE learned:
She loves appearing with an orchestra
“It’s such a dream come true,” Grande tells the BBC. “Strings are like my favorite thing in the whole entire world.” The singer also describes the all-female makeup of her orchestra as “awesome,” adding “I’m spoiled now, I can’t go back!”
Sweetener’s cover art reflects Grande’s emotions
The upside-down cover image may have confused shelf stackers, but that was precisely the point. “I kind of just wanted to … just capture feeling upside-down a little bit, feeling outside your body, almost like you have déjà vu or something,” says Grande. She also revealed her fans have been practicing “God’s work” and turning the album the right way up in stores across the world.
Grande’s mom Joan was the first to spot her talent
Like many of us, Grande’s mom likes to belt out a song or two in her car — yet she had no idea where it would lead. “I was singing … in the car with my mum. I was about 4 or 5 or something,” says Grande. “My mum was like ‘Do that again.’ And she was like ‘Oh my God, you can really sing!” Within hours, Grande was repeating the feat in the living room in front of her entire family. “I thought everyone was a singer. I thought it was normal!” she jokes.
When Grande won the lead role in a family theater production of Annie, Joan wasn’t going to let her 8 year old stand under a spotlight alone. So, she joined the cast! “She was one of Daddy Warbucks’ maids with a little broom and a little outfit. She was the guy who sells apples, you know ‘Apples, come get your apples,’ I was like ‘Mum, this is crazy!’ It was so funny,” says Grande.
She still battles anxiety
Being superstar famous, Grande now stays indoors if she doesn’t feel up to receiving mass attention. “It’s such an unpredictable thing,” she says of her anxiety issues. It’s crucial, she believes, to reach out to loved ones and talk things through. “It takes hard work and practice and therapy and self-care. And so much love,” she adds. “It’s just in your head and it’s just so crazy how powerful it is.”
Her grandma Nonna set herself on fire
Grande has deep love and affection for her family — even when they accidentally set themselves on fire in her kitchen. Grande says of Nonna: “She like leaned over, there was a candle lit, she was getting a cookie and set her blouse on fire!” She adds with a smile: “I was like ‘Nonna, you’re on fire!’ And she was like ‘Oh my God!'”
She takes being a role model very seriously
With great fame comes great responsibility, yet Grande has worked out it’s best to just be herself, warts and all. “If I’m going to be a role model, the last thing I should be is perfect because that’s not realistic,” she says. “As long as I’m honest and genuine and I share with my fans my truest self, that’s the best that I can do because that’s allowing them to do the same thing.”
RELATED VIDEO: Ariana Grande Is Back to Work After Ending Engagement — but Remains Mum on Pete Davidson Split
She prefers dogs to humans — even if they try to dig escape tunnels in her home
“I have seven dogs,” says Grande, before later revealing that it was nearly six. “One day I’m with Scott and we got into the room and we lift the duvet and literally, through the mattress and the feather topping, a big hole to the center of the earth,” she says of an escape tunnel dug by her dachshund-German shepherd mix Coco. “It is the biggest well I’ve ever seen in the whole mattress and I was like, ‘Wow Coco, beautiful work!’”
She can text Madonna whenever she likes
“God is a Woman” is intended to empower girls and women, and Grande wanted to involve Madonna for paving the way. It proved to be the simplest of tasks. “I texted her, which so cool. I can text Madonna!” says Grande excitedly. “Within a couple of minutes she replied. She was like ‘Send me everything!”
Despite everything, she still thinks she’s the luckiest girl in the world
Grande’s roller-coaster life over the last few years would test anyone, yet she remains positive and grateful for everything. Says Grande: “I’ve had a really fun time, you know. My mum and I talk about that sometimes. Like, I haven’t really had a chance, at all, to kind of reflect on everything that’s happened. I really haven’t had a moment to just be still and really think about it. But I’m so lucky.”
Ariana Grande at the BBC airs Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. EST.