Filippina Lydia “Tina” Arena (born 1 November 1967) is an Australian singer-songwriter, actress and record producer. During her career she has lived in Australia, United States, France and the United Kingdom. Arena is one of Australia’s highest selling female artists and has won several awards, including seven ARIA Awards and the World Music Award for best-selling Australian artist, which she received in both 1996 and 2000. In 2009 she became the first Australian to be awarded the Knighthood of the Order of National Merit – presented by the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, for her contributions to French culture. She appeared as a judge on the 2012 revival of Young Talent Time in Australia: the original series had made her a household name in 1977 as Tiny Tina. In November 2015 she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
Arena possesses the vocal range of a soprano and is multilingual: she speaks and sings in English, Italian and French; and also sings in Spanish. In April 2013 she was voted Australia’s all-time greatest female singer and third greatest singer overall in an industry poll conducted by music journalist, Cameron Adams, for the Herald Sun. As of July 2014 she has sold over 10 million records worldwide. Arena released her first English album of original material in eleven years, titled Reset in October 2013. Also in that month she released her autobiography, Now I Can Dance which is now in its 4th reprint. In October 2015, she released her eleventh studio album, Eleven and became her 7th Top 10 album in Australia by debuting at No. 2 at the ARIA album chart.
Life and career
1967–87: Early life and career beginnings
Arena was born to Giuseppe “Joe” Arena and Francesca “Franca” Catalfamo (both from Valguarnera, Sicily), Italian immigrants, in Melbourne on 1 November 1967. Giuseppe was a rural worker in Italy, and then a cane cutter in Cairns in 1955, by the following year he was a labourer in Melbourne, he later worked for Victorian Railways. Arena grew up in Moonee Ponds with two sisters, Nancy and Silvana; her family calls her Pina which provided her stage name, Tina. For secondary schooling she attended St. Columba’s College, Essendon from 1980 and completed Year 12 in 1985. She later recalled her upbringing “It was a very Italian household, it was a very traditional household. There was a lot of love but there was a lot of discipline. And there was no room for pretentiousness. Really, there just wasn’t.”
As a child Arena listened to Spanish, Italian and French songs that were in her family’s record collection. At five she was the flower girl at her cousin Gaetano’s wedding, at the reception she urged her father to approach the host so that she could sing – Daryl Braithwaite’s version of “You’re My World” – it was her first public performance. She received singing lessons from Voila Ritchie who recommended her to appear on a TV talent quest and variety show, Young Talent Time. Initially appearing as a contestant Arena became Tiny Tina, a regular member of the show’s Young Talent Team in 1976. For her first appearance she sang ABBA’s “Ring Ring”.
As a member of the team Arena performed cover versions of popular tracks and in 1977 released a split album, Tiny Tina and Little John, alternating tracks with fellow team member, John Bowles. While with the TV series she appeared in TV specials, at shopping centres or tourist venues. In September 1982 she became a “coach” for new team members, Danielle Minogue and Mark McCormack; Arena told The Australian Women’s Weekly ’s Debbie Byrne that “They seem to be settling down a lot quicker than I did. They both have a really professional attitude.” At 14, she told Byrne “my aim: to be a recording artist and actress but, now, I have to concentrate simply on what I’m doing and that can take enough effort.”
Arena left the show in October 1983 ahead of her 16th birthday – the program’s stipulation to give way for younger members – performing “The Way We Were” and “McArthur Park” for her finale. She completed her Higher School Certificate (final year of secondary school) and was hired as an insurance clerk but resigned after three months to pursue a music career.
At the age of 17, Arena signed a record deal with Graffiti Records, which released her debut single, “Turn Up the Beat”, in 1985. Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, described it as having a “dance-pop” style. The Sydney Morning Herald ’s Tim Elliott reflected that it “failed to impress.” It had been recorded in the previous year with Brian Cadd producing at Flagstaff Studios in Melbourne. When the single did not appear in the top 50 her planned album was scrapped.
Arena sang ad jingles and worked on the pub and club circuit. She performed solo shows and in bands, including as a member of a nine-piece ensemble, Network. She also appeared in musicals. In 1987 she supported American artist, Lionel Richie on his Australian tour, following a number of charity performances.
1988–93: Debut solo album – Strong as Steel
During 1988 Arena appeared as a guest on Australian TV shows recalling her tenure on Young Talent Time and looking for a new record label. In 1990 she had a singing and dancing role in the David Atkins’ musical, Dynamite, for a 10-month run. Also that year she signed with EMI and reinvented her image as a raunchy disco diva. In May she issued a single, “I Need Your Body”, which peaked at No. 3 on the ARIA Singles Chart. McFarlane described it as “uptempo” with the associated music video “projecting a raunchy disco-diva persona… flaunting a pouting rock starlet with bouncing cleavage and attitude to burn.” Australian journalist, Ed Nimmervoll, noticed that she used “raunchy videos showing off her cleavage as if to prove she was a woman now.”
The artist followed with another single, “The Machine’s Breaking Down”, in August 1990, which peaked in the top 30. Her debut solo album, Strong as Steel, was released in October, which peaked at number 17 on the ARIA Albums Chart. Most of the album was produced by Ross Inglis. Penelope Layland of The Canberra Times opined that “the frantic single, ‘I Need Your Body’, is quite uncharacteristic of much of the music on Tina Arena’s album, Strong As Steel. In fact it is one of the weakest tracks on an album which bounces with potential pop hits.”
According to Nimmervoll, Arena “was not comfortable. This was not her. This was not what she wanted to be for the rest of her life. Tina went into seclusion while she decided what to do next, moving to Los Angeles to be a nobody again.” She had relocated to LA in 1991 where she took more singing lessons and started song writing. Upon return to Australia, in 1993, she performed in the local musical theatre production, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, as the Narrator.
1994–96: Second solo album – Don’t Ask
Tina Arena’s second solo studio album, Don’t Ask, was released on 21 November 1994 and was produced by David Tyson for Columbia Records. According to Nimmervoll during recording “Tina nearly broke down. This was an all-important moment in her career.” Arena co-wrote all ten tracks of the original Australian version. She recalled, “I had gotten used to singing other people’s songs, but this time they are my songs and my experience so I can sing them like I mean it. The record is honest and sincere and simple.”
McFarlane noticed it demonstrated a “more mature, sophisticated, soul-tinged style and approach… [and] her powerful, crystal clear voice more than adequately matched the material on offer.” Kelvin Hayes of AllMusic felt that “a lot of Don’t Ask remains twee. However, there are good moments.” It peaked at No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart – a year after its release – and remained in the top 50 for 83 weeks. It reached No. 11 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 12 in New Zealand.
Don’t Ask was the highest-selling album of 1995 in Australia and one of the biggest-selling albums by an Australian female singer to date. It has sold over two million copies worldwide and was certified 10 times platinum by ARIA in 2011 for shipment of over 700,000 copies in that country alone. The success of the record made her a “priority artist” for Sony, who marketed her in the US. Her European success was realised: Don’t Ask charted in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.
The lead single, “Chains”, was issued ahead of the album in September 1994 in Australia, which peaked at No. 4 on the ARIA Singles Chart. It also reached No. 6 in the UK, No. 7 in New Zealand, No. 9 in Ireland and No. 20 in Canada. In 1995 she toured Europe, appearing on Top of the Pops, which broadcast to an audience of 60 million people. In the European market Arena was an unknown and a fresh commodity, she opined: “I loved every minute of that – of people not knowing who I was. I guess it was tiring fighting the individual thing. It was good to not be a part of a past and being accepted as an artist. Not having to carry this Young Talent Time luggage which was constantly shoved in my face.” Five additional singles were released, “Sorrento Moon (I Remember)” (February 1995), “Heaven Help My Heart” (May), “Wasn’t It Good” (September), “Show Me Heaven” (November) and “That’s the Way a Woman Feels” (March 1996).
At the ARIA Music Awards of 1995 Arena was nominated in six categories and won four trophies: Best Pop Release and Song of the Year for “Chains”; and Album of the Year and Best Female Artist for Don’t Ask. At the 1996 ceremony she received five more nominations and won Highest Selling Album for Don’t Ask. Other accolades she earned were Variety Club Entertainer of the Year, an Advance Australia Foundation award, and a World Music Award.
1997–2000: In Deep and Sydney Olympic Games
Arena relocated to Los Angeles in 1996 and 1997 to record her third solo studio album, In Deep (18 August 1997), which became her second number-one album in Australia. For the Australian version of the album Arena co-wrote eleven of its twelve tracks – her fellow writers include Mick Jones (of Foreigner), David Tyson, Christopher Ward, Dean McTaggart, Pam Reswick and Steve Werfel. The album included her cover version of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is”, originally written by Jones who produced Arena’s version. In Deep “was recorded predominantly live in the studio in an attempt to bring the material closer to Tina’s stage performance persona” with four tracks produced by Tyson and the rest by Jones. In Deep was certified 3× platinum in Australia. William Ruhlmann of AllMusic found the US version of the album showed that “Her own songs, co-written with a team of others, are perfectly good contemporary pop/rock, and she sings them with passionate commitment” and it was “brimming with potential hit singles (it spawned three in Australia).”
In Deep, in its different versions, provided ten singles, with the lead one, “Burn”, appearing in July 1997, which had some US airplay. The track was co-written by Arena with Reswick and Werfel. In Australian it debuted at No. 2 and was certified gold upon its release. It was also a hit in Asia. Besides the English language version she also recorded it in Spanish and Italian (in the form of “Ti Voglio Qui”). The second single, “If I Didn’t Love You” (November) appeared in the ARIA top 50. In April of the following year she issued “Now I Can Dance”, which peaked at No. 13. In the UK Arena released “Whistle Down the Wind” (June 1998) as a cover version single, it was the title track from the 1996 musical of the same name, her version reached the UK Singles Chart top 30.
Arena’s duet with US artist, Marc Anthony, “I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You”, from the feature film soundtrack for The Mask of Zorro (July 1998), gave her European chart success. The track was issued as a non-album single in Australia in September, but did not reached the top 50. It was included on the French release version of In Deep, appearing in October, which peaked at No. 3 on the French Albums Chart – a year after its first entry – and spent 88 weeks on that chart. It also reached the top 10 in Belgium and top 40 in Switzerland. It was certified 3× platinum by Syndicat National de l’Édition Phonographique (SNEP) in May 2001 for sales in France. “I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You” had been issued in Europe in September 1998, it peaked at No. 3 in France – her first charting single in that market. It also reached No. 3 in the Netherlands and top 10 in Belgium.
She toured the US from March 1999 to promote the album’s local release, as well as another single, “If I Was a River”, which did peak in the UK top 40. Sony attempted to “break” Arena into the US market by the release of “If I Was a River”, penned by Diane Warren. Ruhlmann felt the label had an “obvious plan is to turn her into a down-under Celine Dion” however the album and its singles “had no commercial impact upon release in the U.S.” and “must be considered a disappointment.” Her US foray included appearances on TV shows such as Donny & Marie. In February 1999 she teamed with label-mate Donna Summer to perform a cover version of “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”; the duet appeared on Summer’s live album, Live & More Encore (June 1999).
Arena’s first French language single, “Aller plus haut” (English: “Go Higher”, July 1999), appeared on the continental version of In Deep, which peaked at No. 2 on the local singles chart; it has sold 600,000 copies in that country. It also became her first number-one hit on the Belgian Singles Chart. Her second French language single was a cover version of “Les trois cloches” (English: “The Three Bells”, January 2000), which reached No. 4 in France and another number-one hit in Belgium. From May that year she lived in London while she appeared in the lead role of Esméralda for the stage musical, Notre Dame de Paris during a six-month run. Carr, by now her ex-husband, had claimed in Business Review Weekly (2000) that Arena was paid $200,000 per week when she was performing in Notre Dame de Paris.
Arena sang “The Flame” (written by John Foreman) at the 2000 Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics on 15 September. Seven Network covered the national broadcast across Australia, which become the highest rating TV telecast in Australian history. John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Vanessa Amorosi, Human Nature and Julie Anthony were some of the other Australian artists who appeared at the opening ceremony and contributed to the various artists’ album, The Games of the XXVII Olympiad: Official Music from the Opening Ceremony (September 2000). She recalled, “When I sang at the Olympics, I cared about the fact that I was Australian. And I was touched because I was an ethnic girl, of ethnic blood but that WAS Australian. Because I was born here, this is where I grew up, this is where I learned everything.”
At the ARIA Music Awards of 2000 in October the singer-songwriter received an Outstanding Achievement Award. In the following month she issued her first compilation album, Souvenirs, which reached the ARIA top 40.
2001–07: Just Me, “Never (Past Tense)” and Un autre univers
Arena’s fourth solo studio album, Just Me, was released on 12 November 2001 and debuted at No. 7 in Australia; it reached the top 50 in France and top 70 in Switzerland. She co-wrote tracks with Nile Rodgers (Madonna, Diana Ross), Desmond Child (Ricky Martin, Aerosmith), Robbie Nevil (Earth, Wind & Fire), Mark Hudson (Eric Clapton, Cher), Victoria Shaw and Peter-John Vettese (Dido, Paul McCartney). The album explored different genres, containing more upbeat tracks as opposed to her two previous studio records which featured her soprano voice on slow pop ballads. Although written after the divorce from Carr, she said that the record is not angry nor bitter but rather a “celebration of womanhood”. It was certified gold by ARIA and by SNEP (France).
To promote Just Me she showcased it for 150 people, mostly Australian TV and media personalities, in Melbourne. The record provided four singles including, “Symphony of Life” (September 2002), which peaked at No. 8 in Australia and top 50 (as “Symphonie de l’âme”) in France. In November 2008 she performed the track at the closing of the Gay Games, when the international sporting event was held in Sydney. She was featured on 2 (November 2002), a duets album from Olivia Newton-John for which the pair recorded an uptempo track, “I’ll Come Runnin'”.
In March 2002 Arena posed for a semi-nude photo shoot by James Houston for Black+White magazine. She explained, “This shoot isn’t about shock value, and it’s not porn, it’s an elegant, understated and honest exercise in challenging my sexuality and learning to love myself again.” She appeared in Cabaret in August that year in Sydney in the lead role of Sally Bowles.
In April 2003 Arena and US electronica group, Roc Project, released a dance music single “Never (Past Tense)”, which reached No. 1 on the US Billboard dance top 10. The single included seven house and electronic dance music remixed versions by various DJs. This was the first time three performers associated with Young Talent Time were simultaneously in the chart’s Top 10 with Dannii Minogue’s “I Begin to Wonder” and Kylie Minogue’s “Slow” also appearing on the chart.
“Never (Past Tense)” was used on the US TV series, Queer as Folk, and on its associated soundtrack album (2003). The singer-songwriter performed the Tiësto remix with a new remix of “Dare You to Be Happy” live at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras after party in March 2005. By 2014 she had performed at the Mardi Gras for a fourth time: she is one of the gay icons of this generation.
In October 2004 Arena released Greatest Hits 1994–2004, her second compilation album, which peaked at No. 10 in Australia. The compilation provided a newly recorded track as a single, “Italian Love Song” (November), which reached the top 40. After its release she left the recording label, striking a new deal with Sony Music BMG, France. She embarked on an Australian national tour in late 2004 to early 2005 to support the album.
Her debut French language album, Un autre univers was released in December 2005 and gained a platinum certificate from SNEP in February 2006, it reached No. 9 on the French charts and remained for 78 weeks. It provided a single, “Aimer jusqu’à l’impossible” which peaked at No. 3 on the French charts and stayed in the top 5 for over 10 weeks. The single peaked at No. 1 in Belgium and was a top 20 hit in Switzerland. The song received an award for Song of the Year in France. A second single “Je m’appelle Bagdad” was released in June 2006, peaking at No. 6 in France and No. 8 in Belgium. The third and final single from the album, “Tu aurais dû me dire (Oser parler d’amour)” (English: “You Should Have Told Me (Dare to Speak of Love)”), was issued in October.
Arena toured France, including two concerts at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin in Paris. She performed her French hits and some of her Australian repertoire. In July she appeared on The Footy Show where she performed, with fellow Australian singer Kane Alexander, direct from Munich’s Prince Regent’s Theatre.
In 2006 she appeared on various European TV shows to promote the album and has appeared in Night of the Proms, Star Academy, Fête de la Musique, Les Enfoirés and the NRJ Music Awards where she performed her single, “Aimer jusqu’à l’impossible” (English: “Love Even the Impossible”, November 2005) backed by her French contemporaries: Anggun, Leslie Bourgoin, Amel Bent, Nâdiya, Lââm and Natasha St-Pier.
2007–09: Songs of Love & Loss 1 and 2
Arena returned to the London stage in April 2007, starring as Roxie Hart in the West End production of Chicago. Her sixth studio album, Songs of Love & Loss, was recorded independently and self-financed as she no longer had a recording contract in Australia. It was issued on 1 December 2007 after a new deal was struck with EMI. It has torch songs, originally recorded by women in the 1960s and 1970s, including by Dusty Springfield and Diana Ross, and the arrangements featured a full string orchestra conducted by Simon Hale. A promotional tour of Australia, in early November, included appearances on Dancing with the Stars and Sunrise. Five concert dates backed by a 35-piece orchestra were held over December to January: three at the Sydney Opera House and two at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall. The album peaked at No. 3 on the ARIA Albums Chart; at the ARIA Music Awards of 2008 it was nominated for Best Selling Album.
While Arena was promoting Songs of Love & Loss in Australia, she shot a music video in and around Sydney for her next French language single, “Entends-tu le monde?” (English: “Do you hear the world?”), was made available to French radio and music TV channels. It appeared on her second French language album, 7 vies (28 January 2008), which debuted at No. 12 on the official French charts, her highest debut in the country. “Entends-tu le monde?” was physically released in February and debuted at No. 10 on the French charts, becoming her sixth top 10 single in that market.
In August 2008 Arena performed with Andrea Bocelli during his Australian tour. The two performed duets of “The Prayer”, “Canto della Terra” and a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. Prior to the tour she had been in the UK recording her eighth studio album, Songs of Love & Loss 2, it was released on 15 November 2008, which reached No. 12 in Australia. For this album, her vocals were recorded live with the London Studio Orchestra, again conducted by Hale. On 27 August 2008, alongside fellow Australian singer and songwriter Darren Hayes, Arena appeared as a guest judge during the London auditions of the sixth season of Australian Idol. She appeared again as a guest judge, on 16 November, while she was in Australia to promote, Songs of Love & Loss 2.
In March 2009 Arena toured Australia and appeared as a guest performer at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras party singing a medley of “Aimer jusqu’à l’impossible” and “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”, accompanied by Alison Jiear on the latter. She travelled to South Australia to co-headline with US musician, Chris Isaak, at Barossa Under the Stars, an outdoors concert. Also in March 2009 her first French language compilation album, The Best & le meilleur (English: The Best & the best), was released. The Peel Me Sessions, an album of original material recorded in 2003, was also officially released in May 2009.
2010–12: Young Talent Time revival and Australian symphony orchestra tour
In January 2010 Arena and Irish singer, Ronan Keating (of Boyzone), were co-headliners for an outdoor concert festival, A Day on the Green, at Swan Valley. They performed tracks from their latest respective albums and were supported by Australian Idol season 4 winner, Damien Leith.
A live CD and DVD was released in Australia in January 2010, Live: The Onstage Collection, where the album peaked at No. 22 on the ARIA Albums Chart. The live recording was her eighth Top 10 album on the ARIA Australian-only Artist Chart and was also promoted and sold during Arena and Keating’s concerts. On 24 July 2011 Arena sang the Australian National Anthem on the podium of the Tour de France after the victory by Australian cyclist, Cadel Evans. In 2011 she was a judge on the French version of The Sing-Off.
Arean appeared as a judge on the 2012 version of Young Talent Time in Australia, 29 years after her final regular appearance on the original series. After judging the talent shows, she finished her national Australian tour backed by various Australian symphony orchestras with Anthony Callea as a special guest. Arena detailed working on the tour: “They are precious, those moments where the orchestra swells behind you, they are difficult to describe in words and from an adrenalin perspective it is a sensational feeling.” In November 2012 she issued her fourth live album released on CD and DVD, Symphony of Life, recorded at one of her Melbourne concerts. Arena’s management is Beebox.
2013–14: Reset, Now I Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars Australia
Due to the success of her Symphony of Life Tour, Arena added five extra shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra for February and March 2013 as part of her Encore Concerts. In July she performed two concerts at the Queensland Music Festival. One of these was a solo show backed by the Queensland Youth Orchestra performing her own hits and covers; and the other was with local artists, Christine Anu, Anthony Callea, Rick Price and Katie Noonan paying tribute to the Bee Gees.
She released her first English language solo studio album in eleven years, Reset, on 18 October 2013, which peaked at No. 4 and became her sixth Top 10 album in Australia. It was released in both standard and a deluxe editions (with three extra tracks). It was certified gold in three weeks and then platinum in December 2013. Its lead single, “You Set Fire to My Life” (September), included both studio and acoustic versions; as well as three official remixes by Cosmic Dawn, The Slips and 7th Heaven – it reached the ARIA top 40. The track “Only Lonely” featured in Channel 7’s Home and Away promo, which also reached the top 40. Also in October 2013 Arena published her autobiography, Now I Can Dance, written with Jude McGee, to coincide with the release of Reset and is now on its 4th reprint.
Arena performed at G’Day USA Los Angeles Black Tie Gala on 11 January 2014. On 14 March she appeared on Sunrise and performed “You Set Fire to My Life”. Also in March the singer-songwriter appeared on So You Think You Can Dance Australia to perform her single, “Reset All” (December 2013), which was accompanied by a routine from two previous winners of the series, Jack Chambers and Talia Fowler.
In May 2015 Arena issued Songs of Love & Loss in France. Her eleventh studio album, Eleven was released on 30 October 2015. It was preceded in September by its lead single, “I Want to Love You”. She premiered that track on Dancing with the Stars on 4 September. On 25 October 2015 ARIA announced that Arena was due to be inducted into their Hall of Fame in the annual awards ceremony in November. Arena told Cameron Adams of News Corp Australia that “[she was] still yet to decide if she will perform at the event, and has no clue who will induct her… ‘I’d like it to be someone who knows me. I haven’t written a speech yet. I’m not sure if I will. I feel I need to speak from the heart.” In mid-November ARIA announced that she would be inducted by Kylie Minogue, also a Hall of Fame inductee and a former Young Talent Time contestant.
Arena possesses the vocal range of a soprano.She is multilingual: she speaks and sings in English, Italian and French; and also sings in Spanish.Her singing style is characterised as between R&B and ballad.
Numerous media and musical contemporaries have praised Arena’s skill as a world-class singer. Music journalist Ed Nimmervoll said that she “has a voice that can give you goosebumps”, while news journalist Kate de Brito says that it is “smooth and musical even when she talks.” Cameron Adams of the Herald Sun says she has a “beautiful voice telling a beautiful story.” William Yeoman of The West Australian commented that “Arena’s voice is redolent of both youthful pop and mature cabaret.” Limelight Magazine says, “Tina Arena is a performer with a supreme voice, boundless range and energy, and charm to spare.” Kelsey Munro of The Sydney Morning Herald says that her voice is “strong, smooth and pitch-perfect.” According to Heidi Maier of Tom Magazine, it can be described as “remarkably strong”. She also said, “Tina Arena has a powerhouse voice and when she hits her marks, she hits them with forcefulness and verve.” Spiritworks Australia says, “Whether she’s singing spine-tingling renditions of contemporary classics by Lulu, Dusty Springfield or Blondie or her self-penned hits Sorrento Moon, Chains or Burn, Tina Arena is acclaimed as one of the world’s most versatile and magnificent vocal interpreters. Her voice is smooth, rich and streaming with emotion.”
The Queensland Music Festival team says, “Tina sparkles with vivacity and class, possessing an outstanding vocal range and a voice that belies her petite stature – endlessly powerful and always resonant with heart and honesty.” Queensland Music Festival artistic director, James Morrison said “Tina Arena has one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard.” Time Out magazine had a brief description of Tina’s voice as it says, “Tina Arena truly boasts two incredible assets – her voice and her versatility…” Melbourne’s 89.9 Light FM declared that Arena is “undisputedly one of Australia’s finest voices”. Sharyn Hamey, an online music reviewer says that “Arena has an angelic, beautiful and a powerful voice.”
Fellow Australian celebrities have praised Arena’s vocal prowess with Delta Goodrem saying, “Her voice has strength whilst keeping its feminine warmth to draw you in.” Melbourne singer/songwriter, Michael Paynter hailed Arena as “simultaneously the most natural and supernatural female Australian voice ever. She is technically and emotionally perfect, but somehow always has enough of a sniff of imperfection and rawness to make you not only believe every word, but be hanging off them too.” Ricki-Lee Coulter also says that “She has so much control and power”. Missy Higgins also commented that, “Tina Arena is one of our best singers ever. She could sing the balls off anyone, and she’s miniature.” Brian Mannix says, “Tina Arena has a tasteful voice. She sells the lyrics with her big voice but never over-sings.” Birds of Tokyo frontman says, “Tina Arena can sing the shit out of anything, and do it in four different languages!” Anthony Callea added, “Technically, she is faultless and her tone is unique and warm. I love that she goes against all the ‘singers’ rules’ – I’ve seen what she eats and drinks before a gig!” Darren Hayes also made an effort in letting the public know that Arena’s voice is one of his favourite voices in Australia through Twitter.
Arena’s musical influences include Barbra Streisand, Carole King, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Aretha Franklin and various Italian singers. She also admitted that in a non-musical perspective, Princess Diana inspired her and called her “a great role model for women”.
Arena’s tracks have been covered by country music artists, including Wynonna Judd (“Heaven Help My Heart”, “Love’s Funny That Way”), Jo Dee Messina (“Burn”), Pam Tillis (“If I Didn’t Love You”), Terri Clark (“Unsung Hero”), Kellie Coffey, Kathie Baillie (“Love’s Funny That Way”) and LeAnn Rimes (“You Made Me Find Myself”).
Younger artists have covered Tina’s songs in singing competitions as well, such as the winner of the second season of Australian Idol, Casey Donovan who recorded Arena’s “Symphony of Life” for her album For You and both Filipino artist Sarah Geronimo and Australian Anthony Callea who admits to be a fan of Arena’s, recorded “I Want to Know What Love Is” including the bridge that was written specifically for Arena’s version. Sarah De Bono who came in at fourth place when she joined The Voice Australia also recorded Arena’s (“If I Didn’t Love You”). Filipino artists Nina and Christian Bautista recorded a duet version of “Burn” that appeared on Nina’s album Nina Live! while Regine Velasquez did a live performance on Philippine television. Erik Santos and Sheryn Regis also recorded their version of Arena and Marc Anthony’s duet, “I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You”.
In April 2013 she was voted Australia’s all-time greatest female singer and third greatest singer overall in an industry poll conducted by Australian music journalist, Cameron Adams, for the Herald Sun. As of July 2014 she has sold over 10 million records worldwide.
In December 1995 Arena married her then-manager, Ralph Carr; they divorced in 1999 and settled their financial and contractual matters in February 2002. According to Alexandra Carlton, in October 2015, “the marriage left her feeling ‘disconnected’ and unhappy, and began with Carr’s anger over her refusal to allow their wedding photos to be sold to a magazine, and culminated in an antagonistic divorce that she’s since described as a ‘shitfight’. They don’t speak today, but Arena says she doesn’t regret the relationship. ‘What you gonna do? Worry about the mistakes, wrong decisions?’ she scoffs. ‘At the end of the day, you were meant to make those. You do your greatest growing through the pain’.” Arena is one of Australia’s highest selling female artists.
Arena and French artist, Vincent Mancini (sometimes credited as Vincent Hare), began dating in 2000; the couple have a child. During her career she has lived in Australia, United States, France or the United Kingdom.
Arena’s autobiography, Now I Can Dance, published by HarperCollins, was released on 14 October 2013 in paperback and E-book format. It is billed by HarperCollins as “Honest and intimate, funny and frank, Now I Can Dance is the long-awaited memoir from the very special, much-loved singer, songwriter and pop diva, Tina Arena.” She told Kathy McCabe of News Corp Australia that “I don’t need to put a book out to put food on the table. It started to dawn on me in the last year that I have had an unbelievable life and I want people to know it’s been hilarious, there’s been a lot of laughter in my journey.”
Arena supports non-profit charities, including, in 2013, as an official patron for a charitable organisation, Soldier On, which assists mentally and physically wounded Australian soldiers. The singer said: “It’s vital that Australian soldiers have access to support when they return from overseas, and ‘Soldier On’ will make a much needed difference in the lives of wounded veterans and their families. ‘Soldier On’ is the first charity of its kind in Australia and I am honoured to be a Patron.”
In July 2013 she performed at the Melbourne Asbestos Cancer Fundraiser, which donated funds raised to support Mesothelioma research undertaken at the Olivia-Newton John Cancer & Wellness Centre and the Austin Hospital, Melbourne. She was also a participant, with partner Damian Whitewood, in the 13th Australian season of Dancing with the Stars which commenced in September 2013 and nominated Barnardos Australia as her charity; the pair finished in third place.
Arena took part in Australia’s biggest TV charity appeal, Telethon, in Perth on 20 October 2013. On 21 December 2013 she opened Sydney’s annual Carols in the Domain concert with “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and performed her single “Reset All” at the closing of the event.
In November 2014 Arena released a cover version of the 10cc’s 1976 song, The Things We Do For Love, with money raised going towards the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
- Studio albums
List of some notable TV appearances Arena has made over the years.
|1977–1983||Young Talent Time||Herself||“Tiny” Tina Arena as she was fondly called started her career in this show before becoming an international recording artist.|
|1984||Young Talent Time 1984||Herself||After leaving the show in 1983, she came back as a special guest the year after.|
|1986||The Flying Doctors||Miss Broken Hill||An Australian drama series where Tina Arena played as Miss Broken Hill|
|1991||All Together Now||Vanessa||An Australian sitcom where Tina Arena played as Vanessa|
|1994||Australian Music Awards||Herself||Arena performed the first single from Don’t Ask, “Chains”|
|1995||AFL League Grand Final||Herself||Arena performed “Waltzing Matilda”|
|1995||Waltzing Matilda: The Song That Shaped a Nation||Herself||Video documentary|
|1995||Top of the Pops||Herself||Guested on this TV show singing and promoting singles from her second album, Don’t Ask.|
|1995||Hey Hey It’s Saturday||Herself||Arena performed “Wasn’t It Good” to promote her second album, Don’t Ask.|
|1996||World Music Awards||Herself||Arena won the world’s best selling Australian artist award and later performed her hit single, “Chains”. Celine Dion gave Arena a standing ovation after the performance|
|1997||ARIA Music Awards||Herself||Arena performed the first single from the In Deep album, “Burn”|
|1997||Midday||Herself||Arena performed her hit single, “Burn”|
|1998||Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration||Herself||Arena performed “Whistle Down the Wind” as a tribute to Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber for his 50th birthday.|
|1998||The Donny & Marie show||Herself||Arena performed “If I Was a River”|
|1999||VH1 Presents Donna Summer: Live and More… Encore!||Herself||Arena performed “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” with the late Donna Summer. The performance and the song received praises from the media and was later included on Summer’s live album, Live & More Encore.|
|1999||Fox Studios Australia: The Grand Opening||Herself||Arena sang a version of “My Heart Will Go On” and performed with Marcia Hines and Kylie Minogue as well.|
|2000||2000 Sydney Olympics||Herself||Worldwide broadcasting was done for this event as Arena sang the Olympic song, “The Flame”|
|2000||NRJ Music Awards||Herself||Arena won Best New International Revelation, beating Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and Lauryn Hill. She performed her French hit, “Aller plus haut” afterwards|
|2000||World Music Awards||Herself||Arena performed a song called “Live (For the One I Love)” from the Notre Dame de Paris soundtrack album. Elle Macpherson presented Arena the award for the world’s best selling Australian artist|
|2000||ALMA Awards||Herself||Arena and Marc Anthony gave speeches after accepting the award for Best Song in a Motion Picture for their duet of “I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You”. Jennifer Lopez presented the award to Arena and Anthony|
|2001||ARIA Music Awards||Herself||Arena performed her song “Soul Mate #9” from her Just Me album|
|2001||Rumba! Festival||Herself||Arena performed songs from her Just Me album such as “Soul Mate #9” and “Symphony of Life”|
|2001||Channel V||Herself||Arena talked about her single “Soul Mate #9” and her performance at the 2001 ARIA Music Awards|
|2001||musicMAX||Herself||Arena talked about recording her album Just Me while showing snippets of her music videos and her in the recording studio|
|2001||The Ray Martin Show||Herself|
|2001||Young Talent Time Tells All||Herself|
|2002||Opening of Walt Disney Studios Paris||Herself||Arena sang the classic Disney song, “When You Wish upon a Star”|
|2003||Pepsi More Music: The DVD Vol. 1||Herself||Featured her song “Symphony of Life”.|
|2003||Young Talent Time: The Collection||Herself|
|2004||Australia’s Funniest Home Videos||Herself||Arena performed “Italian Love Song”, the first single from her compilation album Greatest Hits 1994–2004|
|2004||The Cream at the Carnival||Herself||Arena did an interview about her career. This interview was done on her birthday as well as she was presented with a birthday cake|
|2004||Good Morning Australia||Herself|
|2004||Zu & Co live at the Royal Albert Hall||Herself||Performed “I’m in Trouble” with Zucchero Fornaciari|
|2005||Live 8||Herself||Performed “Come Together” with Craig David and her own French hit single, “Aller plus haut”|
|2005||La Méthode Cauet||Herself|
|2006||Fête de la Musique||Herself||Arena performed “Aimer jusqu’à l’impossible”|
|2006||Le village des enfoirés||Herself|
|2006||Tout le monde en parle||Herself||Appeared as guest in 2001, 2003 and 2006|
|2006||Samedi soir avec…||Herself|
|2006||La chanson de l’année||Herself|
|2006||The Footy Show||Herself||Performed the song, “Timeless” with Kane Alexander|
|2007||Sunrise||Herself||Arena performed “To Sir With Love” and “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself”|
|2007||La Caravane des Enfoirés||Herself|
|2007||The Morning Show||Herself||Arena talked about her success in Europe and the Australian tour she would embark on|
|2007||La chanson de l’année||Herself|
|2007||Getaway||Herself||Appeared as guest in 2005 and 2007|
|2007||Dancing with the Stars||Herself||Performed “To Sir With Love” to promote her then album, Songs of Love & Loss|
|2008||Mornings with Kerri-Anne||Herself||Over a week, the program aired Arena doing several live performances of singles from Songs of Love & Loss 2|
|2008||Les secrets des Enfoirés||Herself|
|2008||The Morning Show||Herself||Arena talked about her Knighthood honour and to promote her then-new album, Songs of Love & Loss 2|
|2008||Australian Idol||Herself||Arena appeared as a guest judge together with ex-Savage Garden member, Darren Hayes. She later on appeared as a mentor for the Idols’ Choice week to the remaining top 3 contestants|
|2008||RocKwiz||Herself||Arena performed a duet with Jeff Martin. The two performed a rendition of a Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel track called “Don’t Give Up”|
|2009||An Audience with Tina Arena||Herself||Arena performed songs from her Songs of Love & Loss albums as Australian media and other celebrities watched and asked her questions in between performances|
|2009||Talking Heads||Herself||Arena talked about her life and career and how proud she is being an Australian|
|2009||Vive les comédies musicales!||Herself|
|2009||Plus de vie||Herself||Arena performed “Aimer jusqu’à l’impossible”|
|2009||Les Enfoirés font leur cinéma||Herself|
|2009||Spicks and Specks||Herself|
|2010||Sunrise||Herself||Arena performed “Wasn’t It Good” in support of her album Live: The Onstage Collection|
|2010||Postcards||Herself||Arena discussed about her concert tours, her favourite cafes in Melbourne and promoted her album, Live: The Onstage Collection|
|2010||Today Show||Herself||Arena discussed her trips to France, Young Talent Time and promoted her album, Live: The Onstage Collection|
|2010||ARIA Hall of Fame||Herself||Arena inducted former host of Young Talent Time, Johnny Young to the ARIA Hall of Fame. She also performed a song called “Here Comes the Star”|
|2010||Good News Week||Herself||Arena performed “The Look of Love” and promoted her then-new live album, Live: The Onstage Collection|
|2010||Who Do You Think You Are?||Herself||The episode showed Arena traveling to Italy to find out more about her ancestral roots and family secrets|
|2010||Hey Hey It’s Saturday||Herself||Arena performed “Only Women Bleed” to promote her album, Live: The Onstage Collection|
|2011||Sidaction||Herself||Arena performed her version of “Call Me” from her album, Songs of Love & Loss 2|
|2011||A Current Affair||Herself||Arena talked about her Young Talent Time 2012 stint as mentor and judge|
|2011||Flood Relief Appeal||Herself||Arena performed “I Only Want to Be with You” to raise funds and support for the flood victims of Northern Queensland|
|2011||Le Grand Studio RTL||Herself||Arena performed a duet with Gérard Lenorman for their French single, “Voici les clés”|
|2011||Le plus grand cabaret du monde||Herself|
|2011||Dans l’oeil des Enfoirés||Herself|
|2011||2011 Tour de France||Herself||Arena performed the Australian national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair” as Cadel Evans won the competition|
|2012||So You Think You Can Dance||Herself||Arena’s songs were used during performances of the contestants. In 2011, “Everybody Hurts” was played and in 2012 “Nights in White Satin” took the turn|
|2012||Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation||Herself||Arena talked about her then-current role as a judge and mentor on the revival of Young Talent Time|
|2012||Young Talent Time||Herself||Arena appeared as a mentor to the new YTT team and a judge for the talent quest portion of the show|
|2012||APRA Music Awards||Herself||Arena and Tex Perkins performed the Gotye hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know”|
|2013||Today Show||Herself||Arena talked about her upcoming Australian tour and showed snippets of her in the studio recording her album, Reset.|
|2013||Dancing with the Stars||Herself||Arena won third place during the 13th season of the Australian franchise.|
|2013||Sunday Night||Herself||The episode features Arena traveling the streets of Paris and the Outback while talking about her album, Resett.|
|2013||Sunrise||Herself||Arena talked about her album, Reset.|
|2013||The Morning Show||Herself||Arena talked about her album, Reset.|
|2013||The Daily Edition||Herself||Arena talked about her album, Reset.|
|2013||The X Factor||Herself||Arena performed the first single, “You Set Fire to My Life” from her album, Reset and was also a mentor for this episode.|
|2013||Studio 10||Herself||Arena talked about her album, Reset.|
|2013||Carols in the Domain||Herself||Opened the show, performing “O Come All Ye Faithful”|
|2014||Sunrise||Herself||Arena performed the first single, “You Set Fire to My Life” from her album, “Reset”|
|2014||So You Think You Can Dance||Herself||Arena performed her single, “Reset All” from her album, “Reset”|
|2014||Logie Awards||Herself||Arena performed “Only Lonely” during the ‘In Memoriam’ tribute|
|2015||Aria Awards||Herself||Arena was inducted to the Hall Of Fame by the Veronicas, Jessica Mauboy and Kylie Minogue|
Arena has won several awards, including seven ARIA Awards and the World Music Award for best-selling Australian artist, which she received in both 1996 and 2000. In 2009 she was awarded the Knighthood of the Order of National Merit by the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, for her contributions to French culture. She is the first Australian to have received that order of state. In November 2015 she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame at the annual awards ceremony.
- List of Italian Australians
- List of people from Melbourne
- List of Australian composers
- List of Australian women composers
- ARIA Music Awards of 1995
- ARIA Music Awards of 1996
- ARIA Music Awards of 1998
- ARIA Music Awards of 2000
- ARIA Music Awards of 2008
- Lallo, Michael (12 September 2014). “Lunch with Tina Arena”. smh.com.au. Retrieved 13 September 2014.