Full Name: Tina Arena
Original Name: Filippina Arena
Profession: Singer
Birthday: 1st November 1967
Place Of Birth: Melbourne / Australia
Marital Status: Single
Descendance: Italian

March, 2001
By Glen Hosking 
Melbourne, Australia

"I come from very humble beginnings. My parents were immigrants, they came to the country with no money, and without a concept of the language. My mother always told me that you must always believe in your dream, and you must follow that dream. However, great things don’t come easily, and if they do come easily, someone will take it away from you. You must work hard child, because that’s the only time you ever respect it" Tina Arena, August 1997.

Fillipina Lydia Arena was born on the 1st of November, 1967 in Melbourne Australia. Known as Pina to her family, she adopted the stage name of Tina in the early part of her career. Tina, the daughter of Sicilian immigrants, who migrated to Australia from the small town of Valguarnera is said not to have spoken English until she was five. Tina is the middle of two sisters, Nancy the older, and Silvana the younger, and the close family grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds.  01.jpg (65507 bytes)
02.jpg (28200 bytes) Tina’s entrance into the performing arts began in the early 1970’s, when she reportedly heard her older sister’s record of Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘You’re My World’. Tina played the song continuously, and learnt the words by heart. Weeks later, as a flowergirl at a relative’s wedding, she sings the song before an appreciative audience. After enjoying the applause, Tina pesters her mother to let her enter a television talent quest. She wins three of her four performances, and the show’s produces subsequently ask her to join the cast of the show as a full-time member. At only seven years of age, Tina joins the iconic ‘Young Talent Time’ (YTT), a weekly Saturday Night television program. For the next seven years, Tina appears weekly in lounge rooms across Australia. 

At this early age, Tina exhibits the characteristics that later become the hallmarks of her performing persona – a souring voice, meticulous lyrical phasing and amazing confidence. Each week, Tina performs to audiences of up to 4 million people Australia wide, and becomes known as ‘Tiny Tina Arena’. Throughout her time on the show, Tina records a large amount of material, the most notable of which is the album ‘Tina Tina and Little John’ which she recorded with fellow cast member John Bowles. As the show’s protocol enforces, at the age of sixteen, Tina leaves YTT. Her YTT finale performance of Donna Summer’s ‘MacArthar Park’ is incredibly well received, and sparks a great deal of media attention. Indeed this is a sign of things to come. cowboy.jpg (72542 bytes)

Tina often talks about her time on YTT as a double-edged sword;

"……it’s given me perspective on every part of the business – we got to sing, we got to dance, we got to record – you couldn’t get a better grounding". "I don’t think that I would have come this far if it wasn’t for those early beginnings"………."like anyone you speak to who’s had childhood beginnings, the audience has seen you go through puberty, they’ve seen you go into adolescents, they’ve seen me enter womanhood. They’ve watched my growth".

06.jpg (6221 bytes) After leaving YTT, Tina embarks on a solo singing career as an adult performer. Tina’s first release as an adult solo artist is the single ‘Turn Up The Beat’ in 1985. The single is produced by Australian rock legend Brian Cadd, and its release sees Tina appearing on many Australian variety programs as an adult singer. However, the single does not achieve chart success, and no follow up album is released. 

Tina then concentrates on completing the final years of secondary college. This includes appearing in the school productions of ‘Sweet Charity’ and ‘The Boyfriend’. Whilst she is studying, Tina is invited to support pop legend Lionel Richie on his Australian national tour. Tina said of the experience;

"Supporting Lionel was just unbelievably, he was great. I enjoyed it immensely".

After finishing school, Tina seeks out further recording work, but is ostracised by the industry that has been so supportive of her in the past. She approaches every Australian record company, but the child-star albatross hangs around her neck, and she is rejected by every one of them. She is told to loose weight and change her name. 

Tina defies the advice, and seeks work on anything she can find, such as working for a short time as a clerk for a Melbourne Insurance Company. She also records a number of advertisement jingles, such as Haymes Paints, Ollies Trollies and Movieland, a jingle that is still heard on radio throughout Australia today. Tina talks openly about how she coped with the rejection from the music industry;

"I went into a shell. I crawled under a rock. I lost an enormous amount of confidence. My spirit had really been thrown around. But I never lost sight of the dream and the vision that I had as a very young girl, and all I ever tried to do was follow that dream."

Tina’s pursuit of her dream pays off when she scores the exhausting role of Renata in the critically acclaimed stage production of ‘Nine’ alongside John Diedrich. The role involves Tina appearing on stage throughout the entire performance, and also sees Tina join the cast in recording the soundtrack, where she performs the song ‘The Grand Canal’. 07.jpg (174193 bytes)

Tina is now starting to be taken seriously as an adult performer, and this is aided by her many performances throughout Australia with a number of the nation’s top bands. The most notable of these include the highly respected nine piece band ‘Network’, where she performs to packed houses at Melbourne’s Grainstore Tavern, as well as David Hirschfelder’s (John Farnham’s musical director) 22 piece Jazz orchestra at the Melbourne Metro nightclub.

Tina then scores a role in the World Premier of David Atkin’s musical production ‘Dynamite’. The production tours Australia for 10 months throughout 1990, and features both original and cover versions of songs linked together by a simple storyline. Writer Tony Sheldon is full of praise for Tina when he talks about how his involvement in the production evolved; 

"When they asked if I would be interested in a project using the talents of the mysteriously under-rated Tina Arena, I said no without any hesitation."

08.jpg (16851 bytes) The production involves a lot of dancing, and sees Tina performing tunes such as ‘River Deep, Mountain High’, and ‘Man in the Mirror’. Atkins said of Tina’s performance; 

"Tina has a Judy Garland-like quality. She radiates energy – it’s there in her voice and in her ability to interpret that music in a way that can move a crowd…."


next page >>