>Fact File :
It started with a little girl in suburban Melbourne hearing her older sister's record of Daryl Braithwaite's "You're My World". It was magic. She played it over and over, learning the words, singing along. She could make the magic.
She's a flower girl at a family wedding and ends up on stage for the first time singing "You're My World". Everyone loves the magic.
After badgering her mother the little girl auditions as a contestant for a television talent quest. She wins three out of four of her appearances. The producers ask her to join the show as a permanent member. She's eight years old. She's a TV star. She appears weekly on television screens in lounge rooms across Australia for the next seven years. Growing up in public.
At fifteen Tina Arena steps into the world. It's a scary experience. History has not been kind to child stars - many have burnt out, been forgotten - but she's a survivor. Her response to the fear and the challenge? Hard work. For the next six years Tina hits the boards. After a life spent in front of the camera, she takes every opportunity to perform live, to learn how to work an audience, to feel at home on the stage, to work with different bands, to work in the theatre, to learn the craft, to put the science with her magic.
In 1989 Tina Arena turns twenty one and releases her first album, "Strong As Steel". Over the next twelve months it goes Gold and produces the second highest selling single of the year, "I Need Your Body". For Tina it's a learning experience, the first tentative step as an adult performer, the first taste of success as a recording artist. The next six months sees her touring the country. Tina appears in clubs and pubs, on television and radio, working the record, letting the audience see Tina Arena as a woman, no longer a child.
Unlike many of her contemporaries, she wants to be involved in her material as a songwriter, not just as a singer of someone else's words, and spends six months away from family and friends to concentrate on working with songwriters in Los Angeles and New York developing material for her follow up album. Tina then returns to Australia and spends most of 1992 working with Australian songwriters accumulating more material. During the first ten months of the next year Tina takes a break from working on the album and stretches herself further as a performer by appearing in the nationwide tour of the stage production of "Joseph's Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat". She still manages to squeeze in another trip to America for more songwriting.
1994. The second album is recorded and with the release of the first single from it, "Chains", the explosion begins. The single achieves Gold after eight weeks, Platinum after twelve, and goes on to make the Top Ten in England and the American Top 40. Then comes the album "Don't Ask". It produces five hit singles, goes Gold in the first month of its release, Platinum six months later and over eight times Platinum after twelve months. And that's just in Australia! The album goes on to sell over two million copies worldwide, gaining Tina a place in the record books as the highest selling female artist in Australian history.
Over the next year Tina rides the shock wave, visiting Europe, appearing on the legendary "Top Of The Pops" TV program and doing the odd little gig or two such as opening the A.F.L. Grand Final in front of a live audience of over 90,000 people and a television audience of 60 million worldwide. Luckily the years of hard work have made Tina feel relaxed, confident and at home on stage, although in this case it's a little difficult for her to make her customary eye contact with as many people in her audience as she can.
However for Tina personally, the culmination of her career comes on 2nd October 1995 at the Australian Record Industry Awards (the ARIAs). She scoops the pool, winning the Best Pop Release and Song Of The Year for "Chains", the Highest Selling Australian Album and Best Australian Album awards for "Don't Ask", the first female performer to ever do so, and of course the coveted Female Artist Of The Year. Voted by her peers and viewed by her fans nationwide, the dazzling win finally puts to rest any lingering doubts and fears Tina may have carried with her since leaving her childhood stardom behind. When her award was announced, Tina's joyous leap from her seat, her exuberant grin and exclamation "Yes!" as she punched the air like an athlete breaking through the finish tape, is an image that communicated more about her to the audience than any words could convey. It was a magic moment for her and them.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Tina embarks on a 2 month sold out national Australian tour. It's a celebration. The accolades continue as Tina is voted Variety Club Entertainer of The Year, wins the Advance Australia Foundation Award, a World Music Award in Monaco and the APRA Song Of The Year Award, while "Don't Ask" goes on to be the top selling album in Australia from anywhere for 1995. Phew! Throughout all the years of hard work and performing in the public eye, Tina has maintained a jealously guarded private life that she strives to keep as normal as possible. Still living modestly in inner city Melbourne, nurturing a marriage and a trusted circle of friends many of whom she's known since school, Tina still haunts op and bric a brac shops for knick knacks and pieces for her beloved home, her base and her retreat from the madness. Tina remains essentially a private person.
But her career has beckoned again.
1996 and early 1997 saw Tina back in L.A. and working on the much anticipated third album, "In Deep". The record features material Tina has written with a range of collaborators including Mick Jones, David Tyson, Christopher Ward, Dean McTaggart and the renowned Pam Reswick and Steve Werfel, plus a cover of Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is". This time around the album was recorded predominantly live in the studio bringing a vitality and freshness to the material that is closer to Tina's stage performance persona. Tina worked with "Don't Ask" producer David Tyson on four tracks, while the remaining eight tracks were produced by veteran Mick Jones, best known for Foreigner and, for those who can remember back that far, Spooky Tooth, but more recently for producing Billy Joel and Van Halen. The feel of the album reflects Mick's assured and experienced hand at capturing the best performance take possible for each of the tracks. Once again Chris Lord-Alge did the mix.
The first single from the album, "Burn" was a great hit as expected , followed by " If i didn't love you" that didn't do as well but well enough ,now the third single "Now I Can Dance " is already on the radio, and in the hearts and minds of her fans, whose support helped debut the song at number #42 and climb up every day in the Australian Singles Chart.
"It's really something I don't give a great deal of thought to. I'm extremely honoured and flattered and humbled by it. But I do not bask in the glory of my achievements. I'm not that kind of person. To me, awards are a great sign of respect. But I don't go chasing them. But that's not to say it doesn't freak me out. Sometimes if I really think about it, I go. "Oh my God!" It's pretty wild, you know." - On winning awards
You don't say. Especially when she tells you that one in 10 Australians actually owns a Tina Arena record! Imagine that. Tina Arena is defintely what you would call, well, a burning sensation. But she insists that success has not got to her head. She feels that she's far too realistic to believe that success will never end. The position she's in - she already feels that she's very, very lucky and blessed. So it can be sure that she would never get terribly cocky and confident about the fact that she've made it.
The American Dream. There is one dream Tina holds dear and that is to break into the American market. She's had a crack at it earlier: 'Chains' made it to the Billboard Hot 100 Singles at #38 while the parent album made it only to #142 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart. But now she's ready for another go with her new record.
"It has always been a desire for me to break into the American market because it's something that has enticed me ever since since I was a child. It's not something I woke up two years ago and thought, 'Oh, I want to be a pop star and I want to break America.' I don't come from that conditioning. I come from 22 years of honing and perfecting my craft, to be in this very fortunate and privileged position that I am in today. America is just a part of the big picture. But, if it works, terrific. And if doesn't, it wasn't meant to be." - Tina Arena