IT’S no secret that Tina Arena has performed at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Party a few times — four occasions, to be exact.

Not that she’s complaining: the pint-sized singer-songwriter loves every minute of it.

“There’s always an incredibly loyal, wonderful, well-dressed and colourful crowd,”she told the Star Observer.

“They’re just fun, they’re unbelievably receptive.

“I think it’s the element of surprise and the fact they’re always up to doing something a little bit different, there’s always a bit of a twist, whatever it may be… people go out with the intention of celebrating and having a really good time.

“If you’re a performer you can’t really ask for a better crowd.”

Last year was a big year for Arena. Within a period of a few months, she competed in Dancing With The Stars, released her 11th studio album Eleven, her musical legacy was recognised with an induction into the prestigious ARIA Hall of Fame, and she moved back home to Melbourne after nearly 20 years abroad.

As one of Australia’s most-loved singer-songwriters, she has sold millions of records both here and abroad, won seven ARIA Awards, has been awarded the French National Order of Merit, and more recently, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia.

This year will mark her fifth appearance at Mardi Gras, and while she won’t perform at the party, she has two other intimate shows lined up. The first is a concert at Mrs Macquarie Point as part of the The Harbour series on February 25, while the other is at the State Theatre on March 4 as part of her national tour.

For an audience of no more than 1000, Arena’s harbourside concert will feature a stage custom-built for Mardi Gras with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as a backdrop. Her State Theatre concert will host a different set list, but she wouldn’t reveal any more details about both performances.

“I don’t like to let the cat out of the bag,” she joked.

Arena experienced a surge of goodwill late last year after she used her ARIA Hall of Fame acceptance speech to criticise the ageism of commercial radio.

While she predominantly spoke about women, she said her sentiments could resonate with singers and musicians who are of diverse sexuality and gender.

“Why they do it, I don’t really have an answer, but… I think it’s really silly to not add music that comes from women that have something very honest and progres- sive to say,” she said.

“It’s incredibly sad that commercial radio just targets a specific demographic, when it’s pretty much proven today that radio formats that are a collective, that play a spectrum of music, tend to have a lot more success.”

With Arena’s Italian cultural background in mind and many European countries currently undergoing selection processes for their Eurovision 2016 representatives, the Star Observer asked if she would consider representing Australia when it competes in the song contest for the second year in a row.

“I probably wouldn’t close myself off to something like that, but, you know, it’d be very dependent on the situation and the song,” she said.

But for now, she was looking forward to some down- time once her national tour ends:

“I’m going to take a break, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Tina Arena will perform at The Harbour on February 25 as part of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Details: mardigras.org.au

For details on Tina Arena’s national tour, which ends March 12, visit tinaarena.com/tours

This article was written with Alistair Kitchen and Cameron Colwell.





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The Star Observer is a proud media partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

For all of Star Observer’s Mardi Gras coverage, click here

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**This article was first published in the March edition of the Star Observer, which is available now. Click here to find out where you can grab a copy in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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