Singer still as strong as steel

CELEBRATION: ARIA Hall of Fame inductee Tina Arena brings her Innocence To Understanding Tour to the Civic Theatre on September 12.

Curating 40 years of songs into a two-hour live show hasn’tbeen easy for Tina Arena.

Singer still as strong as steel TweetFacebookInnocence To Understanding is the name of her upcoming tour and a line from her 1995 hitSorrento Moon (I Remember). It is also an apt description of just how far she has come since being cast on YoungTalent Time at the tender age of eight.

Arena released her successful debut albumStrong as Steelin 1990 followed by 10-times platinumDon’t Askin 1994, the multi-platinumIn Deepin 1997andJust Mein 2001.She hastwo best-selling French-language albums to her name,two much-loved volumes ofSongs of Love & Loss, the 2013 platinum-sellingResetand the gold-certifiedElevenin 2015.

Arenais the only Australian artist to earn a gold or platinum certification for each of her original albums in every decade since the 1970s. In fact, every album in her career has gone gold, platinum or multi-platinum.

“Today I feel I have finally reached a place where I am 100 per cent comfortable with who I am, and I am free to enjoy my life and my work,” the 49-year-old says.

“I’ve always followed my own trajectory anddone things that I value and that I see a sense of worth in doing.

“This tour tells a story of a little girl who had a dream, like many little girls and boys out there have a dream. I definitely have a greater sense of understanding these days but timegives you that privilege.”

We discuss the horrifying May 22 terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchesterand thecourage and maturity the singer demonstratedinreturning to the city for the One Love Concert.

“This young lady of 23has certainly jumped a few chapters because she has been confronted with something so far removed fromher own humble place,” Arena says.

“That event will shape her, like it will shapemany performers, and increase the weight that they are already carrying on their shoulders. Not only is it a big responsibility putting on a show but now there’s another layer of bullshit that you have to contend with. It’s ludicrous.”

Arena is fiercely protective of fellow performers and says people should rethink preconceived notions that every artist is “living in an ivory tower and has a great life”.

“The artistry of music is a lot of hard work, a lot of disillusionment anda big risk. Even if you think your work is great there are never any guarantees,” she explains.

“If a business is to invest in something they want a guaranteed return. However we make investments in our careers but nobody ever gives us a guarantee as to whether we are going to have our investment returned.

“I feel that the music industry has in some ways not been treated with the respect it deserves. As artists we tell stories and convey a message and we do that with the greatest of intentions and vulnerability. We fund our own careers and yet people want everything for free.

“Does a business give away a product for free and say no worries?In the world we live in technology has totally got everybody by the balls.”

When the MP3, Arena says, it was “the beginning of the end”.

“I knew straight awayit was going to have a major effect and people were wondering what I was on about it. Ifind it a difficult pill to swallow that our lives are ruled by technology but all I can do is try to take control of my own world. Social media and technology has a place in my life, and it is not number one and it is not number two and it’s not number three.”

Catch Tina Arena at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on September 12. Tickets are on sale now.