Guest ProfileGuest Profile: Olivia Newton-John
Born in Cambridge, England in 1948, the youngest child of Professor Brin Newton-John and Irene, daughter of Nobel Prize winning physicist, Max Born, Olivia moved to Melbourne, Australia with her family when she was five. By the age of fifteen, she had formed an all-girl group called Sol Four. Later that year she won a talent contest on the popular TV show, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” which earned her a trip to London. By 1963, Olivia was appearing on local daytime TV shows and weekly pop music programs in Australia. Olivia cut her first single for Decca Records in 1966, a version of Jackie DeShannon’s "Till You Say You’ll Be Mine." In 1971, she recorded a cover of Bob Dylan’s "If Not For You," co-produced by John Farrar, who she continues to collaborate with today.
Her 1973 U.S. album debut, "Let Me Be There," produced her first top ten single of the same name, with Olivia being honored by the Academy Of Country Music as Most Promising Female Vocalist and a Grammy Award as Best Country Vocalist. This proved to be only the beginning of a very exciting career. Her countless successes include three more Grammys, numerous Country Music Awards, American Music Awards and Peoples Choice Awards, five #1 hits including “Physical,” which topped the charts for ten consecutive weeks, and 15 top 10 singles.
In 1978, her co-starring role with John Travolta in “Grease” catapulted Olivia into super-stardom. This film led to the production of the most successful movie musical soundtrack in history, featuring the duets "You’re The One That I Want" and "Summer Nights," with Travolta, as well as her mega-hit, "Hopelessly Devoted To You." The film was re-released worldwide in 1998 in celebration of its 20th anniversary to even more acclaim, a true testament to the film’s timeless quality. Her other film credits include “Xanadu,” “Two Of A Kind,” “It’s My Party,” and “Sordid Lives.” She followed that success, by co-starring with her daughter, Chloe, in the Showtime movie, “The Wilde Girls.” Clearly following in her mother’s footsteps, Chloe has recently signed her first record label contract.
Olivia’s appeal seems to be timeless. With a career spanning more than three decades she is still a vibrant, creative individual that is adored by fans across the world. Throughout her career, the much-loved star, who danced with Gene Kelly in “Xanadu,” hosted the popular internationally syndicated “Wild Life” television show, was bestowed an O.B.E. (Order Of The British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth in 1979, has held many humanitarian causes close to her heart, particularly since the birth of her daughter Chloe in 1986. She served as Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Programme and in 1991, the Colette Chuda Environmental Fund/CHEC (Children’s Health Environ-mental Coalition) was founded after the tragic death of Chloe’s best friend from a rare childhood cancer, with Olivia serving as National Spokesperson for ten years. Ms. Newton-John’s devotion and shared commitment to CHEC’s mission and goals enabled the organization to receive worldwide attention and support. (For more information visit www.CHECnet.org.)
Her charmed life has not been without its share of upset. In the 90’s, Olivia successfully overcame her own battle with breast cancer, which inspired her self-penned and produced album, “GAIA,” her most personal album reflecting upon her experiences with cancer. She used these experiences to gain greater self-awareness and became a positive inspiration to millions of people battling cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, Olivia has become increasingly well known and respected for talking openly about her battle with breast cancer and for promoting public awareness of the importance of early detection. Her personal victory against cancer led her to announce her partnership with Austin Health and the creation of the “Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre” (ONJCC) on the Austin Campus in her hometown, Melbourne, Australia. The ONJCC will provide a comprehensive range of services and facilities for cancer treatment, education, training and research. (For more information visit www.oliviaappeal.com)
Olivia continues to give back to the community generously and has been acknowledged many times by charitable and environmental organizations for her ongoing efforts, among them: the American Red Cross, the Environmental Media Association, the Women’s Guild of Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center, the Rainforest Alliance and Concept Cure. Olivia promotes breast health awareness and has introduced the “Olivia Breast Self-Exam Kit,” an aid to help women perform self-exams with more ease and confidence (www.liv.com).
In the new millennium, her interational recognition continued to grow. She was invited by the Vatican on behalf of Pope John Paul II to perform at the Jubilee Celebration for the Sick and Healthcare Workers. Olivia was thrilled to perform at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics to an estimated global viewing audience of four billion people. Adding to this Olympic experience is what Olivia feels is one of her most memorable moments – the honor of carrying the Olympic Torch during the Olympic Torch Relay. Her passion for Australia was ignited again when Olivia reunited with friend and business partner, Pat Farrar, to promote the Koala Blue brand with distinctly Australian wines to proudly bring “the taste of Australia” to the rest of the world. Her healing spirit also led to the opening of the GAIA Retreat & Spa in her homeland of Australia (www.GaiaRetreat.com.au).
Olivia shows no signs of slowing down with recording. In 1999, her album, "Back With A Heart," garnered her an Emmy Award for her songwriting. In 2000/2001, Olivia released her only live album, "One Woman’s Live Journey," followed by “Magic - The Very Best of Olivia Newton-John,” which celebrated thirty years of recording. And if that wasn’t enough, she also released her first holiday album, “The Christmas Collection.” In 2002, a CD of duets simply titled, “2,” was recorded in Australia and features a host of talented Ozzies along with a couple of her American friends, followed by “Indigo: Women of Song,” a tribute to some of her favorite female performers.
The CD “Stronger Than Before,” release in 2005, features songs of inspiration, courage and hope that relate to the complex emotions cancer patients and their loved ones experience. A portion of the CD’s proceeds benefit cancer research.
Her latest recording, “Grace and Gratitude,” a CD for relaxation to promote spiritual balance and physical and emotional healing, was released in September 2006.
In 2002, Olivia was inducted into the prestigious Australian Music Hall Of Fame at the 16th Annual Aria Awards. Her latest honors include receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award by friend John Travolta at the G’Day L.A. Ball in 2006.
Olivia was also appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia by the Queen for her “service to the entertainment industry as a singer and actor, and to the community through organizations supporting breast cancer treatment, education and training research, and the environment.”
With her current “Grace and Gratitude” concert tour, ongoing projects and philanthropic endeavors, Olivia’s worldwide popularity is as strong as ever!