Back in the spotlight.
TINA Arena has added a new skill to her CV – taxi driver.
For the first time in a decade, Arena has spent several months introducing her six- year- old son Gabriel to the joys of her hometown, Melbourne.
‘‘ He is absolutely loving it,’’ Arena, 44, says. ‘‘ I am a taxi driver these days. I spend my life driving him and his mates around to play footy and soccer or just hanging out. He’s at a fun age, he’s developing his personality and it’s hilarious most of the time. Most of the time . . . ’’
Arena’s temporary relocation from Paris is to accommodate her return to
Young Talent Time, the feel- good family TV program that launched her career when she joined in 1974. This time around she’s judging the new generation.
‘‘ I knew when I decided to join the show it was going to be life- changing and I haven’t been disappointed,’’ Arena says. ‘‘ I’ve been inspired by a bunch of gorgeous kids. Nobody wipes the smile off their face in the studio. I’ve not been in a situation like that before. It’s incredibly rare what we’re living with on
YTT. And it’s been very emotional going back to the show. It was overwhelming for me. Particularly the first episode where the original cast went out on stage and paid respect to the show’s heritage. It was a powerful moment.’’
Too busy to bother about the show’s haters on Twitter and Facebook harping on ratings, Arena is following her judging ethos and focusing on the positives.
‘‘ I understand all that social media has a place, but it’s very easy to say what you like when you’re sitting behind a screen and no one can see you.
‘‘ I don’t take any notice. The show is what it is. It’s a show that was done 40 years ago, totally ahead of its time. It was done with good intentions. It’s still being done with good intentions. As a judge, you can say what you feel very honestly, but you don’t need to put somebody down. That’s not the right thing to do to kids. That’s not part of my character. I was a little girl up on that stage once singing. I’m pleased I was never ripped apart. Why would I want to do that to anybody else?’’
Her son visits the YTT set with his mum during the Sydney recording sessions each weekend. ‘‘ Will he follow in my footsteps? I’m happy for him to do what makes him happy. He’s got a good little voice, but I want him to follow his own destiny. It’s his call, not mine.’’
YTT follows Arena judging on the French version of US a capella reality show The Sing Off. She’s confident
YTT will return next year and could be up for a second bout.
After this season of YTT ends, Arena will embark on another orchestral tour, mixing in her own hits with choice covers such as Don’t Cry For Me Argentina and
Cry Me A River. ‘‘ For me to explore those songs that already have a life is amazing. To be able to tell them in the context of a symphonic orchestra is like being in the best car you could possibly drive or a Boeing. And having it all to yourself.’’
This year Arena will also finish her first album of original material in more than a decade. ‘‘ It’s a bunch of stories I’ve lived the last seven or eight years. It’s like a travel diary of different places, observations and journeys. I’ve loved writing it. It’s not something hit FM stations will play, but I’ve been very happy with the evolution of my career taking its natural pace.’’