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One Woman's Journey Tour 1999

Interview: Olivia Newton-John shares her 'Journey'

The singer's concert tonight is part of her first U.S. tour in 16 years

Wednesday, August 4, 1999

By BYRON BECK, Special writer, The Oregonian, Portland Newspaper OR

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4

Where: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway Tickets: $29.50-$49.50

Olivia Newton-John is a survivor. Both personally and professionally, she has been able to withstand more than just changing musical tastes.

The singer and actress, who grew up in Australia, has been an American sweetheart for two generations. Tonight she brings her mellow yet "physical" brand of music to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for a nearly two-hour show she calls "One Woman's Journey."

We caught up with this down-to-earth 50-year-old just before her 12th performance on her current national summer tour -- her first tour in the United States since 1983.

Q: Your 1998 album "Back With a Heart" marks a return to your pop-country roots. What was it like returning to Nashville to make the album?

A: It was great, but that was quite a while ago. This tour isn't a promotion for that album or anything. I'm just out sharing my own personal journey.

Q: This is your first tour in many years. What can we expect this time out?

A: It's the songs I like the best, but not in any particular order. I take you through my career and the different phases of it. It's a mix.

Q: What music do you like to listen to when you're not performing?

A: I end up listening to what my daughter listens to (Newton-John gave birth to Chloe Rose in 1986). She likes 98 Degrees and Britney Spears. I like to listen to Andrea Bocelli.

Q: Now that you are back on the charts, can we expect a return to the big screen like "Grease?

A: Actually, I am doing a movie at the end of this tour. It's an independent project by a playwright friend of mine, Del Shores, called "Sordid Lives." It's quirky and funny and I have a singing part. I play a tough Southern singing ex-con.

Q: You have strong ties to our state (Newton-John married Oregon native Matt Lattanzi in 1984 and amicably separated from the actor in 1995). What are your memories of Oregon?

A: Berries. I loved eating blackberries right off the bush. It reminds me of England. And I love the outdoors -- Oregon has a wonderful smell.

Q: You have become a goodwill ambassador for the environment. Do you have any pets or pet projects?

A: Animals offer unconditional love. I have three cats and three dogs. I'm also actively involved in many projects, including the Children's Health Environmental Coalition and issues regarding breast-cancer awareness.

Q: You are a breast-cancer survivor (Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. She has been in full recovery for more than six years). What does it mean to be a symbol of survival for women all over the world?

A: I feel fortunate and lucky every day. What else can I say?

Q: As for the tour, are you having fun yet?

A: It's a long show, but I'm really enjoying it. I am surrounded by an all-Australian band, except for one Texan. That makes me feel safer and more relaxed. Not to say I don't get nervous, but not like I used to.

Q: And lastly, Olivia, if someone on the street walked up to you and suddenly said 'I honestly love you,' how might you respond?

A: (Newton-John laughs) Thank you. You don't know me, but thank you.

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last updated January 13, 2003