Tina Arena (born Filippina Lydia Arena on 1 November 1967) is an Australian singer, songwriter, musical theatre actor, talent show judge, television and radio personality and record producer. She is one of Australia's highest selling female artists and has won several awards, most notably six ARIA Awards and the World Music Award for best-selling Australian artist, which she received in both 1996 and 2000. One interesting fact is that one in four Australians owns a Tina Arena record. She has sold over eight million records worldwide. Arena appeared as a judge on the 2012 revival of Young Talent Time in Australia. The original 1977 series made her a household name. 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 writer, Cameron Adams for the Herald Sun.
Arena was born to Giuseppe and Franca Arena, Italian immigrants living in the Melbourne suburb of East Keilor, Victoria. She has two sisters, Nancy and Silvana. Her family calls her Pina which evolved into her stage name, Tina. Arena entered Essendon's St. Columba's College, Melbourne in 1980 and graduated in 1985.
1974-1983: Young Talent Time:
Arena began her career as a 7-year-old, singing live on the variety television show Young Talent Time. Even as a young girl she was known for her powerful voice and stage presence, but she dropped from sight for several years following her Young Talent Time tenure, working the club circuit alone and in bands and also appearing in musicals.
1988-1991: Strong as Steel:
In 1987, at the age of 20, she was reinvented as a raunchy disco diva with the national Number 3 platinum selling single "I Need Your Body". It gave her a successful album, Strong as Steel, and more hits, but for Tina this was a momentary digression, as this was not a music style or image with which she was comfortable with.
After a couple of years, Arena broke the stigma of a TV childhood and carved out a successful solo career with Columbia Records. The David Tyson-produced Don't Ask was Australia's biggest selling album of 1995 and one of the biggest selling album by any Australian female singer to date. Don't Ask sold over five million copies worldwide and was certified 10 times platinum in Australia.
1997-2000: In Deep and Notre Dame de Paris:
The follow-up album, In Deep, produced by Foreigner's Mick Jones, was also a multi-platinum success. The singles "I Want to Know What Love Is" and "Burn" even had minor success in some U.S. airplay charts and Arena's songwriting abilities were particularly well noted in Nashville where a number of pedigreed country music artists have since covered her songs, 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").
Arena's collaboration with Marc Anthony, "I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You", from The Mask of Zorro soundtrack, gave her a new kind of European success, tipping the scales of her success in France where both the song and the album became Top 3, which the album peaked at #3 and was certified 3× Platinum in France. Her first French single "Aller plus haut" has sold 1 million copies in France and peaked at #2 on the French singles chart, her second French single "Les trois cloches" was released in 2000, which peaked at #4.
An attempt by Sony to "break" Arena into the American market prompted the release of "If I Was a River", penned by Diane Warren, prior to In Deep's release there. The single was not particularly successful despite numerous promotional appearances on television shows such as Donny & Marie, but in 1999 she met label-mate Donna Summer who asked her to join her in concert to sing "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)". The duet was well received and subsequently released on Summer's live album Live & More Encore.
Regardless of her recording achievements, musical theatre has always remained more than just a sideline for Arena. Her performance in the Australian production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, while still in her teens, was applauded by the show's producer, Andrew Lloyd Webber. She has since made acclaimed appearances in the UK production of Notre Dame de Paris, as Esmeralda, and as Sally Bowles in the Sam Mendes-directed Cabaret in 2002. Arena returned to the London stage in April 2007, starring as Roxie Hart in the hit West End production of Chicago.
2000: Sydney Olympic Games:
During the opening ceremony, Tina performed the anthemic song called "The Flame".
2001-2002: Just Me:
Despite her international success, Arena's popularity in Australia had begun to wane with her fourth album Just Me failing to match the success of Don't Ask and In Deep, but still managed to certify Gold in Australia and France. The album spawned a Top 10 ARIA single and #1 Australian radio airplay single, 'Symphony Of Life'. Tina performed the track at the closing of the Gay Games, when the international sporting event was held in Sydney.
2003-2005: "Never (Past Tense)" and Greatest Hits (1994-2004):
A foray into dance music in 2003 was also successful when Arena was featured on The Roc Project's "Never (Past Tense)" which reached #1 on the United States Billboard dance Top 10. This marked 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. The track was also featured heavily on the US TV series Queer as Folk and on the soundtrack album. Arena performed the Tiësto remix of "Never (Past Tense)" along with a new remix of "Dare You To Be Happy" live at the official Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras afterparty in March 2005. Arena is also being regarded as one of the gay icons of this generation.
In 2004, Arena released her first compilation album greatest hits album and release a new single Italian Love Song, peaked at #33 on the ARIA Charts, became her last single peaked in the top 50. After that she had a subsequent tour in late 2004-early 2005.
2005-2007: Un autre univers:
Her debut French language album Un Autre Univers was released in December 2005 and was yet another Platinum milestone for her there, riding high in the French charts for well over a year and featuring the award-winning single "Aimer jusqu'à l'impossible" which peaked at #3 on the French charts and stayed in the top 5 for over 10 weeks. The song received the award for Song Of The Year in France. A second single "Je m'appelle Bagdad" is released in June 2006, peaking at #6.
2007-2008: Songs of Love & Loss:
Arena's sixth studio album titled Songs of Love & Loss was recorded independently and self-financed as she no longer had a recording contract in Australia. The album was eventually released on 1 December 2007 after a new deal was struck with EMI Australia. The record was primarily made up of torch songs originally recorded by women in the 1960s and 70s such as 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 in December-January: three at the Sydney Opera House and two at Melbourne's Hamer Hall. The album peaked at #3 on the ARIA Top Albums chart and was nominated for the ARIA Award for Best Selling Album.
2008-2009: 7 vies and Songs of Love & Loss 2:
While Arena was still promoting Songs of Love & Loss in Australia, her first French single in two years, "Entends-tu le monde?", was made available to French radio. The video was shot in and around Sydney during the promotional tour of her home country and went on heavy rotation on French music television channels upon its release. The song was the first single from her sophomore French album 7 vies which was released on 28 January 2008 and debuted at #12 on the official French charts, her highest debut ever in the country. The single "Entends-tu le monde?" was physically released on 11 February 2008 and debuted at #10 on the French charts, becoming her sixth top ten single there.
August 2008 saw Arena performing with Andrea Bocelli during his Australian tour. The two performed well received 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, which was released on 15 November 2008. For this album, her vocals were recorded live with the London Studio Orchestra, again conducted by Hale.
Alongside fellow Australian singer and songwriter Darren Hayes, Arena appeared as a guest judge during the London auditions of Australian Idol's sixth season. The episode featuring Arena and Hayes aired on 27 August 2008. She again appeared 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 in support of her album Songs of Love & Loss 2 and also appeared as a surprise 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)" at 3 am accompanied by Alison Jiear on the latter.
2009 also saw the release of Arena's first French greatest hits album, The Best & le meilleur, and The Peel Me Sessions, an album of original material recorded in 2003 and later materialised as an official release.
2010-2012: Young Talent Time Revival and Australian Symphony Orchestra Tour:
A live CD and DVD was released in Australia on January 2010, The Onstage Collection, where the album peaked at #22 on the ARIA Top 50 Albums chart. The live record marked Tina Arena's 8th Top 10 album on the ARIA Australian Artist Chart as well. On 24 July 2011, Arena sang the Australian National Anthem on the podium of the Tour de France after the victory of Cadel Evans. Arena has been confirmed as a judge on the upcoming French version of The Sing-Off. She also appeared as a judge on the 2012 version of Young Talent Time in Australia, twenty-nine years after her final regular appearance on the original series. She has just also finished her sold-out 2012 Australian Tour to which Anthony Callea was a special guest. This year also saw the release of her fourth CD/DVD media set called 'Symphony Of Life' recorded from one of her sold out concerts in Melbourne.
2013-present: Autobiography and a new English album:
Due to the success of the tour, Arena plotted five extra shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra for February and March 2013 as part of her 'Encore Concerts'. Arena will be releasing an autobiography to coincide with the release of a brand new English album of original material.
In 1996, Arena married her manager Ralph Carr. In 1999 they divorced. In 2000, Arena began dating French artist Vincent Mancini, sometimes credited as Vincent Hare. Together, they have a son Gabriel Joseph, born 17 November 2005. The family travel between France, Australia and the UK, but have been based in Paris since 2008.