Tina Arena is back this year with new music and heartfelt performances. Darcy Watt speaks to the legendary singer-songwriter about family, home and music.


How does it feel to be returning to Adelaide alongside other artists to share stories of family/linked generations?

It’s a privilege to be able to take on the role of Artistic Director of Adelaide Cabaret Festival for 2022. It’s an incredible team and this country is full of incredible talent, many of whom I’m thrilled to be performing with as part of the show, Songs My Mother Taught Me. I cannot wait to return to Adelaide and share my most loved childhood songs, while listening to the incredible stories of family heritage from my fellow artists, including Jess Hitchcock, Lior, Thando, Wendy Matthews and Sophie Koh.


Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Tina Arena says her artistic direction for the show has been influenced majorly by multiculturalism and memory. They will be key themes that will appear throughout the show. Photo by Jai Vasicek.


Your performance Songs My Mother Taught Me begins with the line: “No matter where you go or turn, you will always end up at home.” Where in the world do you feel most at home?

Australia is where I feel most at home. While I have travelled an enormous amount and still enjoy travelling, Australia is my home. It’s where my family is.

Do you think people appreciate the arts more now in a ‘post pandemic’ world?

I think the arts have always been loved but, perhaps there is a newfound appreciation. Cabaret is a fantastic genre to encourage conversation, and the festival really is a place where people can come together and share their artistic ideas.


Tina Arena

Tina Arena is the Artistic Director for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and you can also expect performances from her this coming June. Photo Callum Sims.


What’s one of your favourite songs and what memories does it conjure up for you?

I’m fond of the song ‘Caruso’ by Lucio Dalla, which has a beautiful story. Every time I sing this song, it’s a story I can completely relate to.

From an early age you had a lot of multicultural influence in your life. Has your upbringing inspired this show and the diverse group of performers?

Yes, very much so, the idea for this show was to celebrate the multiculturism of this country, which is spectacularly rich in diversity. Telling stories of family heritage is a beautiful thing. I have no doubt audiences will relate to it.

What are you looking forward to most about performing at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival?

I’m most looking forward to hearing about people’s childhood memories in the performances, and performing something very intimate and personal in Songs My Mother Taught Me. I’m also excited that everybody can just get back to doing what they love to do most: for people to come back to their craft and be able to do their craft in front of an audience, and for that audience to enjoy the beauty and energy of live performance – that’s vital to us all.

Who has been the biggest influence over your musical artistry?

There hasn’t been one specific person. I’m influenced by many greats including Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Mina, to name a few.

Can fans expect any new music to be released from you?

Yes, new music will be coming this year and I’m excited about sharing it.


Tina Arena

Tina Arena, Adelaide Cabaret Festival Artistic Director 2022 will bring to life Songs My Mother Taught Me. Photo Bernard Gueit.


Do you prefer to sing ‘Chains’ or ‘Sorrento Moon’?

I enjoy singing them both! They are very different songs and conjure different emotions.

Where is your favourite place to perform?

I’ve been fortunate to perform in so many beautiful venues and theatres across Australia and the world, including Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall in London. One of the most magical and memorable places I’ve performed was at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which is overlooked by the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. It was one of the most stunning venues I’ve played in, and there was something so magical about being in an almost 2000-year-old outdoor Greek theatre playing to an audience of 5000 people. The acoustics were magnificent. I really do feel very much at home when I perform in Europe, as I do in Australia.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2022

Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs at Adelaide Festival Centre and Her Majesty’s Theatre from June 10-25. For more info and tickets see adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au.

If you enjoyed this interview, click here for more from our Aussie stars

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