Tina Arena Biography
Last updated: 03/02/2012 11:00:00 AM
Born in Moonee Ponds, Victoria, on November 1 1967 to Franca and Giuseppe Arena. Philipina was inspired to sing after hearing her sisters record of the song You're My World. She quickly learned the words off by heart, and she then sang the song at a relatives wedding in the Springvale Town Hall. It brought the house down. Her family soon realised that she had a gift. So after a lot of nagging, Tina went to singing lessons. She had a well known teacher and often a lot of her students would go on to compete on an Australian show, 'Young Talent Time' hosted by Johnny Young. At the age of 7 she performed as a contestant 4 times and winning 3 heats. She became known as "Tiny Tina" Arena (Philipina's nickname was Pina, and changed to Tina for show business).
Tiny Tina was a favourite on YTT, she was given the best work experience possible, getting to record, release records and perform live every week. Sadly, like any kid on TV, she got a hard time at school. Unfortunately, at the age of 16 it was time to go, and gave her final performance singing The Way We Were and McArthur Park. Tina went to school to try and have a normal life with her friends and complete her HSC (higher school certificate) and have a go at a normal job as an insurance clerk. That did not last not last long, and Tina soon realised her destiny was with music. In 1985 Tina released the catchy pop tune Turn Up The Beat, but there was no follow up album. The next few years were spent singing TV jingles and being a support at for Lional Ritchie's tour.
In 1987 Tina scored the role of Renata role in a production “Nine -The Musical”, and had 1 solo song but was required on stage for the entire show. Tina struggled to be taken seriously, as all that the record companies could see was the 'Tiny Tina' tag. She suffered rejection from every major record company in Australia and was sadly advised to change her name and lose weight. Thankfully, t'was advise Tina did not take. A small record company called 'Avenue Records' teamed with EMI and realized her potential and gave her that long awaited record deal.
1989 was spent performing in a 10 month stint in the David Atkins production, 'Dynamite!' and recording her debut album. This debut album was titled 'Strong As Steel' and spawned one of 1990’s highest selling singles (I bet those major record companies were sorry now!), 'I Need Your Body'. Accompanying the single was a raunchy video clip which defiantly left the Tiny Tina image for dead. The song went to #3 and was then followed by the gold certified album 'Strong As Steel'. Strong As Steel peaked at #22 on the ARIA charts. A couple more singles were released from the album, but didn't achieve the same success. 1991 was filled with club dates around Australia and writing for the next album in Los Angeles.
In 1992 Tina signed up with SONY Music and manager Ralph Carr. He thought she was going no where fast, so initially encouraged Tina to write her own music if she wanted to work with him. 1993 was the year Tina appear in the Australian hit musical, 'Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat', as the narrator. With the money she earned, Tina flew to LA, USA, to write more songs and record with some well known producers for her first SONY album. The result was “DON'T ASK”. Before its release Ralph decided to do a smart thing and release a single before the album to create interest in the album. This single was 'Chains'. A song about being driven to complete frustration and the relationship of Tina with this business. And it worked. It went to #4 in Australia!!! The album was released on November 11th, 1994 and sold out by the truck load and went gold, then platinum within a few weeks.
In January of 1995, the second single 'Sorrento Moon' was released and experienced similar chart success. Tina got engaged to Ralph, the man behind Tina Arena. Soon enough is was time to release the next single, 'Heaven Help My Heart'. You could not get away from Tina in 1995 and 1996. She was everywhere! One of Tina’s moments of glory was defiantly the ARIA awards. Tina swept up 5 awards and made history by becoming the first female artist to win both song of the year and album or the year (check the awards page for more details). She was ecstatic. Almost a year later after the album was released, though it was riding high in the charts - it finally peaked at #1due to her frequent appearances on Australian TV shows like Good Morning Australia, Hey! Hey!
It’s Saturday, Midday, IMT, drawing hundreds of viewers, not to mention the hype from her upcoming tour. The record stopped Madonna's much anticipated 'Something To Remember' album from debuting at #1. Another dream came true, Tina was asked to perform Waltzing Matilda and Advance Australia Fair at the 1995 Grand Final in front of gazillions of people world wide. But then the moment fans had been waiting for, a national tour was finally announced! It was to take Tina to many venues all around Oz, including many small and large towns and many major cities. They could not have thought of a more appropriate name - “You Asked For It Tour...”. All tickets sold out, and then encore performances, 'You Asked For More ... The Encore' were announced at 3 capital cities. All shows sold out once again.
During the tour, Wasn’t It Good was released including 3 live tracks from the tour. After a while, she married her manager (name one singer who hasn’t?) Ralph Carr. The wedding was meant to be a secret, but Ch.10 news managed to catch Tina going into the chapel. To cap off 1995, Tina was announced as Australia's highest selling female artist in history baby! And Don't Ask was the highest selling album of 1995 & 1996. Her last performance in Australia was at the Australia Day Concert before backing her bags to head overseas.
After the HUGE success of Don't Ask in Australia, it was time to crack Tina into the overseas market. First stop was England. After her performance on the legendary British show Top Of The Pops, 'Chains' charted at #6 in Britain, and made the top 10 in Ireland and Holland. Her performance was one to remember, most artists on the show mime to their tunes, however Tina showed she could cut it live and done just that.
Next stop was the United States. After an exclusive showcase, SONY America announced they would make Tina their priority artist. Chains became the most added song to radio in US history making some 200 stations in its first week. However, due to lack of promotion it and consequently low single sales, it only just managed the top 40. SONY urged Tina to record a cover of Show Me Heaven specifically for the US market, but sadly didn't make a dent in the charts.
But back in Australia many radio stations were playing imported versions of 'Show Me Heaven', but Sony refused to release it here because it was only for the US market. It was a fantastic opportunity missed. To cap this era off, Tina released a home video called “Don’t Ask - The Shortfilms” which goes through the whole process of Don't Ask and all the video clips, and was narrated by none other than Tina! The video actually went Gold. Tina flew back to Europe to attend the World Music Awards where Tina was awarded the 'highest selling Australia artist' (in history!)
After a long wait, talks of the next album were amounting. The only release in site was 1 song on the 'One Fine Day' soundtrack which featured the song 'Love's Funny That Way'. Much talk and hype was circulating about Tina's next album.
. . . Those rumors finally amounted to something, and a new song called 'Burn' was released to the air waves. It became the most added song to Australia radio in history (due to its Pop/Adult Contempory cross-over). The single debuted and peaked at #2, Tina's highest single position thus far. Soon, the single generated enough hype and the release date for the album, 'In Deep', was announced. After a postponement in August ‘97, a follow up to Don't Ask was finally released. It had been 4 years since the last album. ‘In Deep' was definitely a Tina album, with a mixture of big ballads, light rock songs and folksy pop tunes. 12 tracks listed, but at the end of the last one Stay, there’s a secret one. The album entered the charts at #1 and went Gold on pre-orders alone, another record set by our Tina.
In Deep was the first album by an Australian female artist to debut at the top of the charts, and signified a change in the music industry. No more would albums have to slowly rise to the top spot, but it is something we have some to expect, that big names, a lot of publicity can debut at #1 now. In Deep was produced by the legendary talent of Mick Jones, who also had the early 80’s hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is” which consequently Tina done a remake of, hers was slighty more uptempo. After a ridiculously long wait, the 2nd single “If I Didn’t Love You” was released. This proved to be a bad mistake, it barely dented our charts and wasn't a favourite amongst fans. Another tour was announced, “In Deep Live”.
Not to the scale of 'You Asked For It', however it proved yet another sell out! The concert was televised on Channel 9, and was overly edited. Then the fan club got us hyped up about an In Deep Live video, but this never happened. Now I Can Dance was the third single from In Deep and surprisingly done better then the second single, peaking at #13. In Deep was now 4x platinum, thus solidifying her place as Australia's highest selling female artist. Leafelts appeared throughout every SONY Music home videos and included a picture of In Deep Live. Now you explain that one???
Soon it was off to Europe and the USA to promote the album. Over in England Tina did an interview with a UK Men's magazine and was quoted on some comments she made about the other female Aussie singer Natalie Imbruglia. The press soon picked up on it in Australia and conveniently quoted it out of context to create a scandal for Tina. This incident generated a lot of negative press. The next single released was the Mick Jones's cover which did even worse in the charts. This song may have done a lot better if Sony promoted it and it had a better video clip. If I Was A River, a new song penned by Diane Warren was recorded, and Sony had to foot the bill of $1million for the video clip. The clip was shot along the Nile River in Egypt (for you quick ones, that’s why it was so expensive) and was directed by Pierre Baronie (Tina's long time art director).
While in Europe, Tina was asked by James Hornor and will Jennings (of Titanic fame) to sing the theme song with Ricky Martin for the movie 'The Mask Of Zorro'. Ricky Martin was said to be really looking forward to working with Tina, but unfortunately had to back out due to his commitments with the World Cup and success. Marc Anthony replaced him. The single REALLY took off in Europe, particularly became a colossal hit France. The single went to #3 and #5 in Holland, while the soundtrack went to #7, and soon everyone became interested in Tina. Sony decided to concentrate their efforts of Tina's new found success in France and released 'I Want To Know What Love Is' which experienced even more success. Tina made quite a name for herself over there, and Tina was in demand on every French TV show and radio station.
France was now a priority market, and Tina treated them to 2 French tracks on her album, 'Aller Plus Haut' (To Go Higher) and 'Les Trios Cloches' (Three Bells Ringing - Edith Piaf cover). Aller Plus Haut (To Go Higher) was the next single and just missed the top spot, but still reached platinum status, while Les Trios Cloches experienced similar success. Surprisingly, both tracks made it to #1 in Belgium. In Deep went on to sell 1 million units in France alone. With her continually growing fan base in France after the Mask Of Zorro success, Tina played 2 shows in Paris. This ultimately caught the eye of the Notre Dame de Paris organizers, and they offered her the part of Esmeralda in the English version of the musical.
Behind the new found success in France, Tina and Ralph filed for divorce. The news was broken through Australian trash mags 'Woman's Day' and 'Who Weekly'. During all this Tina performed at The Party In The Park for the Princes trust, Top Of The Pops and UK Lottery Show and was signed to play Esmeralda in the English version of 'Notre Dame de Paris'. This show was a huge success in France and was set to make its West End debut in England. Opening night seemed to be a show stopper, Tina receiving rave reviews and standing ovations throughout. Tina came back to Melbourne to perform on New Years Eve.
Once again, Tina was invited to attend the 2000 World Music Awards. She performed 'Live For The One I Love' from Notre Dame de Paris and won 'Highest Selling Australian Artist due to the 1 million in sales in France. Her performance remains one of the best yet! While the prospect looked very dim for her to sing at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, it finally became very real on August 9th! She flew in from London to attend the press conference, with fellow Aussie stars, Olivia Newton-John, John Farnham, John Williamson, Julie Andrews & Vanessa Amarossi. Tina's song is scheduled to be the final, titled "The Flame", which was penned by John Foreman, the musical director of Good Morning Australia. It has been studio recorded to be released on a special Olympic CD compilation, including the other stars above and would be released on September 15th.
The way the media has been with this on (newspaper articles every day!) it looks like we are ready for a repeat of the 1995 Tina Arena hysteria! Tina flew back to England to finish her run in Notre Dame de Paris and flew back in time for the Olympics. Tina's performance was amazing, and her dress received just as much attention. It was designed by Australian designer Fiona Scanlan. Unfortunately, NBC in America edited out Tina's performance to fit the Olympic Ceremony into their 2 hour telecast, which is really sad as that may have been her big break in the US. While in America, Tina was approached by an American country singer called 'Jo Dee Messina' who had done a demo of 'Burn'. She asked Tina for permission if she could do a cover of it. Lucky Tina said yes, because it gave her an American #2!
After a wave of success overseas, the Australian market had been greatly lacking. Tina thought it was time to show Australia what she had been doing for the past 3 years. Souvenirs, a collection songs that were released to overseas markets only. It included fantastic cover art, multimedia and track listing. The tracks were divided into 3 sections, Film/TV, Live/Stage and Overseas. Souvenirs debuted at dismal #37 and only lasted in the charts for 3 weeks. This album was for the fans though. We also got a string of in-store sign-ins, of which your webmaster got the privilege of meeting our idol at the Melbourne one!! Tina was announced to be the Australian ambassador at Melbourne Fashion Week. Her duties included wearing nice clothes, attending fashion parades and doing interviews on radio, TV and in magazines.
Tina took time out for a well deserved break. She flew to LA to write more songs and start recording for the next album. This album was set to take Tina in a different direction. She wrote some songs with Desmond Child (Ricky Martin fame) and it was produced by Nile Rodgers (Madonna: Like A Virgin fame). Come September 2001, and the new song 'Soul Mate #9' was released to radio. SM9 is a dancey, catchy pop tune, perfect for radio today, but radio didn't take too well to it. It debuted at #54 on the national airplay chart and gained momentum very slowly in the lead up to the release. Tina performed SM9 on the 15th Annual Aria Awards and Rove [live], and appeared on The Panel, Today and the Ray Martin Show. The single debuted at #22, which is very out of Tina fashion, but was still very good considering the slow momentum of airplay. However, the album, Just Me, debuted at a very impressive #7 in the ARIA charts and #47 in the French charts, with no single, airplay or advertisements. This is Tina's first album o
f new material in more then 4 years and is strongly tipped to be a big winner at next year's Aria awards.. Let's see how Australia takes to the new Tina Arena.
and the journey continues ....