If there was one thing Tina Arena could count on while growing up, it was that there would be music wafting throughout the Arena household, filling the air with a richness matched only by the aroma of her mother’s cooking.
There’d be songs by Diana Ross, John Lennon, Barry White and Barbra Streisand, nestling alongside Italian folk and classical music.
Given this upbringing it was, perhaps, inevitable that Arena would graduate from dancing in the sunroom to performing in front of millions of Australians as a member of Young Talent Time.
Three decades on, Arena’s latest album, Songs Of Love & Loss, is a tribute to the songs she grew up with.
“I just sat down one day and did a list,” Arena said of choosing the tracks for the album.
“I’d wake up at 11 o’clock at night or 2 o’clock in the morning and have an idea and write it down. It was an incredibly simple process, it’s been the most fluid record I’ve ever done in my life.”
Unlike most recording sessions, those for Songs Of Love & Loss were planned around Arena’s schedule and carried out in a variety of London studios, often late at night.
The London Symphony Orchestra operates in perfect harmony with Arena’s voice on the likes of Dusty Springfield’s I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself and Burt Bacharach’s The Look Of Love.
Ask her which of the songs, if any, proved most intimidating, and she answers without pausing.
Man With A Child In His Eyes [Kate Bush] was scary ’cos it’s such an extraordinary piece,” she said.
The Look Of Love was terrifying, Everybody Hurts [R.E.M.] was scary as well, because it’s a relatively recent song. But to me it almost concludes the record and the themes of the record – that recurring theme of loss and love.”
With dates in late December in Sydney and Melbourne to support Songs Of Love & Loss, and a new French-language album due next year – not to mention her duties as a mother and a wife – life shows no signs of slowing down for the singer. No wonder she doesn’t know what the next 12 months hold in store.
“No idea,” Arena said. “It’s literally one step at a time in our business. If there’s a public out there that wants to see or hear me, it will continue.”
Songs of Love & Loss is out now. Arena will perform at the Sydney Opera House on 2, 3 and 5 January. Tickets: 9250 7777 or www.sydneyoperahouse.com.au.

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