How do most of the 70-year-olds in your life spend their time? Probably relishing retirement, be it putting up their feet or enjoying social activities with Probus friends.
Marcia Hines recently joined the septuagenarian club, but in true superstar form is midway through her 50th anniversary tour, aptly named Still Shining.
With a host of dates scheduled throughout spring in regional NSW, Marcia has already seen a great deal of Australia thanks to five decades of performing - although not as much as the Leyland Brothers, she laughs.
Often touring a few months at a time with long-time manager Peter Rix, Marcia recalls life on the road as being pretty intense. Touring at 70 however, looks a little different. "This regional tour is great, because it's only on weekends," says Marcia, who is based in Sydney. "So I get a relatively normal life with my friends and family, and hang with my (six) godchildren, and that's really nice."
Calling for a chinwag (she sets the tone from the get-go, prefacing the interview with, "let's just chat") not long after kicking off her Still Shining tour, Marcia is no stranger to living out of a suitcase - a double-edged sword if ever there was one. "I do love touring and I'll be very honest I don't pack light - I never will, I'm a chick," she laughs. "You never know what you're going to need, but you just sort of work it out as you go - the worst bit is leaving something home that I should have packed."
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Over the years Marcia says she has forgotten to pack so many things, she's accrued multiples of stage essentials such as make-up. She's quick to nominate this as one of the worst aspects of touring - so what's the best? "Performing," she says without missing a beat. "After all, that's why I'm there."
During her 50-year career, Marcia has released 22 albums, selling 2.6 million copies, with countless chart-topping singles and multi-platinum records globally. She moved from Boston to Sydney when she was 16-years-old to perform in the 1970 Australian production of Hair, before starring as Mary in Jesus Christ Superstar, the first African-American woman to play the part in the musical's history.
In 2007 she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and received the Order of Australia in 2009 for services to the Australian entertainment industry as a performer, judge and mentor.
Indeed, the 50th anniversary concert tour is a fitting way to reflect on this impressive journey. "Peter and I put together the repertoire that would work the most," she explains. "After all of this time recording, we had to work out what songs would work out the best in this Still Shining tour and it's working very nicely. I've also put two new songs in that I recorded, and they're being well received. You never know - you hope that when you're doing a new song it'll be well received, and it's been a wonderful reaction. I'm enjoying it immensely and the audiences have been wonderful."
Also on tour are Chris Luder, a contestant in the second season of Australian Idol, (Marcia was a judge on the television program for seven consecutive years and the pair remained friends), her long-time collaborator Ron E Jones and percussionist Stef Furnari - "girl power!," she exclaims after listing the ensemble she works very closely with.
There's something very special about the kindness and the warmth of a regional audience.- Marcia Hines
How does she maintain her stamina? "I sleep when I can," she says. "My instrument is me, so I try and take care of that. I don't drink or smoke, I try and stay healthy, and exercise when I can. They say doing a concert is like running a marathon, so we're running a couple of marathons a week at the moment."
Performing at the Albury Entertainment Centre in November, the regional city holds fond memories for Marcia from tours gone by. "I actually had a boyfriend in Albury Wodonga (in the late 1980s, early 90s) and nobody knew we were there, but we'd hang out," she says.
By and large, regional audiences are Marcia's favourite kind. "The thing about regional areas is people actually appreciate that you go out there," she reflects. "I think a large part of my success is Peter worked that out very early in the piece. It's important to perform for the audiences that want to see you and want to hear you. I love the cities, don't get me wrong, but there's something very special about the kindness and the warmth of a regional audience."
The other aspect of touring regionally that Marcia loves? The op shops! "All those country areas have better op shops than the city could ever dream of," she says, trying to schedule time at each stop to hunt for clothes or bric-a-brac. "I don't really lock myself away, I want to experience where I'm going," she says. So if you spot Marcia perusing racks of vintage treasures and you're tempted to approach her, she says please do. "If you see me, let's have a chat," she laughs. "It's a beautiful thing."
Marcia Hines' Still Shining tour hits the Albury Entertainment Centre on November 11. For details and tickets, visit alburyentertainmentcentre.com.au.
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